News flash: Contrary to popular belief, your wedding day is not all about you. Insert gasp here.
Hear me out. Because you've got guests coming from near and far to celebrate you and your beau, making the day all about you is not really an option. It's important to make the day as seamless for your guests as possible, so they feel appreciated for their efforts and want to party with you all night long—there's no better way to ruin a wedding than to have all your guests looking for an out after dinner is served. (well, there probably is a better way . . . see here, but let's hope that doesn't happen to you.)
The best way to show your appreciation is to take a few small measures to make your guests feel welcome. Here's my advice.
1. Provide them with a schedule.
Whether you opt to include this on your wedding website or send out a separate itinerary card to your "yes" guests, it's always quite helpful for your guests to know where they should be and when. My husband and I recently attended a wedding in Ireland, and the host did an exceptional job of keeping the guests apprised of the activities. Two days after our RSVP "yes" card hit the post, we received an itinerary in the mail with dinners, golf, and flight suggestions. It made planning an international getaway much easier. Also, be sure to have a reminder of said events in the hotel room upon their arrival. So to summarize: Treat your guests like they have no clue what's going on—more often than not, even if you hit them over the head with it a head of time, they still don't.
2. Thank them ahead of time.
I've written about this before, but a gift acknowledgment card was one of the best investments we made prior to our wedding. So many of our guests commented on how grateful they were to know that we actually received their gift and they remembered to send one. Call me crazy, but as a wedding guest, I often forget if I got a gift as I head down the aisle to my seat. (I have a tendency to order it right when the invite arrives and then six weeks later as I'm walking into the wedding I don't remember if I purchased it or not.) If you plan to save the thank you notes until after the wedding, this is an especially good idea.
3. Choose hotels that are convenient.
No guest wants to travel far between the hotel and the ceremony, the ceremony and the reception, and the reception and the comfort of their bed. Try to pick a spot that's centrally located to avoid the logistical nightmare that could otherwise ensue. If you can't avoid the distance, try to provide transportation and be very clear about departure times (refer back to point one and treating your guests like they've no idea). A tip: Coordinating transportation schedules is when hiring a wedding planner really helps.
4. Pamper them with a welcome basket.
Out-of-town guests inevitably get hungry in their hotel room. Whether it's late night munchies after a day of revelry or a coveted afternoon snack, keep them satisfied. Try leaving local treats in the room that mean something to you and your beau. If it's a Minneapolis wedding, think about setting some Honeycrisps out alongside a packet of Funky Chunky. Both are local favorites that your guests are sure to appreciate.
5. Suggest a gathering place a day or two before so you get a chance to talk to everyone.
The "welcome party" is becoming increasingly more popular. Many couples suggest a bar close to the rehearsal dinner venue that out-of-town guests should visit around when the dinner ends. That way, you'll have a chance to pop in and say hi to guests who traveled longer distances and show them you appreciate their coming. A note of advice: Set a departure time before you even go in and make sure your wedding party knows said time. You'll want to stay all night, but you've got to get your beauty rest!