Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Inviting and Caring for Out of Town Guests

Weddings bring together a wide range of people who were and are important in your life. Relatives, business acquaintances, college friends, and childhood sweethearts are all key participants in creating a magical wedding day you will never forget. In today's mobile age, however, you can't be sure that all the people who mean so much to you live within a short distance of your wedding site. (This is especially true if you are having a destination wedding or one that is a weekend away from home.)

If you are planning for out-of-town wedding guests, you need to make arrangements for their accommodations by reserving a block of rooms at a nearby hotel. If your reception is at the hotel you will probably be able to get a nice room rate for the wedding as well. Even if it isn't at the hotel, you might want to be sure that it is within easy access of the reception site.

My cousin, who attended Michigan State University, had his reception at a special site on campus, but he and his bride arranged for all of us to stay at a hotel within walking distance so that once we were there we didn't have to worry about driving and parking. This made it much easier to have a good time. Even after the reception ended, we all attended several after-reception parties at the hotel thrown by the parents, the attendants and even in the bridal suite where Chris and his wife still celebrated hours after the wedding reception was over.

Another thing you should consider before even sending out the wedding invitations is what your out-of town guests can do while they are at your wedding. For instance, you might want to include in the invitation packet an itinerary of events that will be taking place before and after the wedding day itself.

Traditionally, out-of-town guests are invited to the rehearsal dinner and any post-wedding luncheons that may be held. So be sure to include that in the itinerary along with any additional events you are having. You may arrange for any sight-seeing or golf outings to while away the hours before the actual event. My cousin had an excursion to a local casino for lunch as a choice for his guests, as well as a trip to a local beach and park for his guests with children.

Speaking of invitations, you should probably start to address your wedding invitations three months before the wedding. Ideally, wedding invitations are sent 8 weeks before the wedding – allowing guests several weeks to make travel arrangements and arrange time off from work if necessary, before sending them back to you.

Remember, you'll need to get them back in advance so you can start labeling placecards, make final head counts, etc. Ask for an RSVP date three weeks before your wedding if you sent them on time. At a minimum, send them out six weeks in advance and set an RSVP date of two weeks before the wedding.

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