By: Merry Mayor
When you think about it, the main goal of all the days filled with planning the perfect wedding and reception is to make great memories for you, your families and your guests.
But some guests deserve extra special attention—namely those that have traveled from distant cities, states and at times even countries to share this special time with you.
Here are a few ways to ensure your out of town guests remember your wedding as fun and hassle-free.
First, of course, you will want to take care of the essentials—hotels and transportation. No, we don’t mean you need to cover their hotel and travel costs. But couples should at least provide their out-of-town guests with information about hotels. Give travelers possible hotel options in a wide range of prices and locations. Even if your wedding and reception is taking place outside of the city center, you may also want to offer guests a downtown hotel choice.
If you have a large number of guests coming from the same city, see if you can negotiate a discount rate with one airline. You can also block rooms at a couple of hotels in various price ranges so that your guests have a choice when it comes to spending money on their accommodations.
Pre-planning information regarding travel and hotel bookings is traditionally not included in the invitation. Instead, include it under separate cover in a fun newsletter format, being sure to include San Diego attractions and highlights, or post this information on a personal wedding Web site. You may also want to include rental car information in this newsletter.
Your Guests’ Arrival
After a long flight, what your guests will most likely need is a little TLC.
If possible, arrange for a close family member or friend to pick up out-of-town guests at the airport. They can even give them a mini-tour of the city and help get them settled.
If this isn’t an option, don’t despair. A full-service hotel can be your best ally in making your guests comfortable. Many hotels will provide free shuttle service between the airport and the hotel.
In addition, concierges can take care of a lot of the little problems that come up, for example, if your aunt forgot to pack a slip to wear with her dress, or your grandfather’s glasses broke.
Even if you won’t be able to spend as much time as you like with your out-of-town guests, you can let them know that you are thinking of them and are thrilled they traveled a distance to be a part of your special day.
A nice touch is to have a special gift basket waiting in their hotel room. While including sightseeing information and edible treats are always good bets, why not personalize it a bit? What you include will of course depend on your budget, but start by identifying your guests.
Is he or she a reader? You might want to include several magazines—don’t forget one local magazine such as San Diego Home and Garden—or a gripping thriller or new political book. Whatever you think might catch their fancy.
Maybe you will want to take this chance to pamper your cousin with a massage or pedicure by including gift certificates for the hotel’s spa service. For the consumate shopper, you may want to include a list of the hot shopping sites and where the best bargains can be found.
For those traveling with kids (or even those without kids!), include small games that are easy to travel with such as Set, Wizard, or Quiddler. Each has won multiple awards, sells for less than $10, and will also keep the kids and adults of all ages entertained.
Cherish This Time
Weddings are an occasion to spend time with those you love. Yes, of course your newly minted spouse is important, but ensuring that you have time to cherish with your out-of-town guests is also key to getting the most out of your wedding celebration.
While it may be difficult to add another social event to your already crowded calendar, try to include your out-of-town guests wherever possible. If you have the budget, invite them to the rehearsal dinner. This also gives them the chance to meet and socialize with your wedding party and soon-to-be spouse’s family.
Depending on your guests and your relationship, you might even consider including them in some of the last-minute preparations you will inevitably have.
Wedding Day Logistics
If you have a large number of people arriving from out of town, consider hiring a shuttle or bus to transport all of your guests. This will allow them to relax and enjoy your wedding and reception and even drink a few cocktails without worrying about having to drive afterwards.
If you have just a few out of town guests, a nice idea is to arrange for a family member or close friend to pick them up and take them home.
Remember Them with Words
A gracious touch is to mention these special guests in a toast at your wedding, letting them know how much it means to both of you that they were able to be there.