By: Kristen Castillo
There’s a reason San Diego is considered America’s Finest City. We’ve got fantastic weather, sand and surf, as well as cityscapes, culture and nightlife. This city has something to offer everyone and wedding guests know that.
Face it, when guests get an invitation to a wedding in San Diego, they won’t hesitate to RSVP fast with a Y-E-S and start packing flip flops, sunscreen and summer clothes for their trip to this gorgeous area we call home.
Weekend weddings are so appealing because they’re pleasant and practical. Your guests already love and support you so they’ll definitely attend your wedding. Add in a few days of leisure and they’re hooked. After all, in our busy lives, a weekend getaway is just what many of your out of town guests need.
Jamie Cheng of the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa says the site is “perfect” for a weekend wedding in San Diego. “Surround your guest with spectacular sunsets, white sandy beaches and the sights and sounds of nature – all in one place,” she says. “The Catamaran is on the beautiful bayside overlooking the sparkling waters of Mission Bay.”
Terese Bernier of Loews Coronado Bay says 75% of brides marrying at the resort have weekend weddings and 95% of the families of the bride and groom stay there too. Many wedding guests check in on a Friday and checkout on Monday. Most resorts will also allow blocks of rooms to be reserved by your weekend guests.
That means you have three to four days to wow your guests. So go ahead and show them what an amazing place this is to live and play.
Give your guests ideas on where to stay, where to eat and what to wear. They’ll think they only need shorts and t-shirts, but as a local you know it’s also a good idea to pack a sweater and jeans for the cool, yet ideal San Diego evenings.
Give them brochures on places to see during their visit such as Seaport Village or Old Town. If you know out of town guests are golf lovers, get them a list of local courses, tee times and if possible, coordinate a round of golf for a few friends.
“At La Costa Resort and Spa, stunning amenities and picturesque views add to a memorable celebration of true love,” says Heidi Baldwin of La Costa Resort and Spa, which is located on 400 acres and has indoor and outdoor banquet facilities that can accommodate up to 1,700 guests.
Whenever possible, give guests a few options. For example, try to secure a group discount at a hotel or two in different price ranges but in the same area, such as two hotels in La Jolla or two hotels downtown. Give them the hotel name, rate info and tell them about the area’s offerings, such as dining and transportation.
You can create a wedding website to keep out of town guests up to date as you plan your wedding and they plan their weekend in San Diego. Use the website to list travel options, dining and shopping suggestions and to post photos and descriptions of what you and your guy love about San Diego. If you’re a beach girl, snap and post a photo at your favorite beach; if you enjoy a local brewery, include menu suggestions.
Check the site and your email often to make sure your guests have the most up-to-date information and answer any questions they have as they plan their trip.
“We’re doing a lot of welcome parties with fire pits and marshmallows,” says Bernier of Loews Coronado Bay who notes that welcome parties are growing in popularity because it’s such a nice way to give guests a warm welcome.
Show out of town guests how much you appreciate their time and travel by remembering them with welcome bags when they arrive. You can customize the bags anyway you want. Consider a few snacks such as nuts, gum and energy bars; pack some water and mini bottles of wine and don’t forget to include maps, itineraries and anything else your guests may want, like a schedule for the Padres’ games or a list of sightseeing options near the hotel.
While your guests are visiting, make sure you take care of them as much as possible. If you can, try to arrange transportation for their visit. You can pick them up at the airport, arrange for a shuttle to ferry guests to and from the wedding or you can provide transportation back to the airport for their departure.
Meal Quality Time
In addition to welcome parties, include out of town guests in wedding weekend musts like brunch and the rehearsal dinner.
“Everyone wants their rehearsal dinners to look different than the wedding,” says Bernier. “We have the pool marina side and people do Mexican dinners or Hawaiian dinners.”
Brunches and lunches can be a great way to get the group together at the end of the weekend for a thank you and a farewell. Catamaran’s The Atoll Restaurant offers a Sunday brunch with a variety of seafood, an omelet and waffle station, as well as a carving station featuring prime rib, turkey, ham and pork.
So Much to Do
Allow out of town guests the freedom to enjoy San Diego on their own, but give them some group time options too. Plan a picnic at a local park or beach for out of towners, family and friends. Everyone will appreciate your gesture and it’ll be a great way for them to get to know new people.
Check with your planner, your venue’s contact person and your guests’ hotels to see how they can assist you to make your guests enjoy their stay and feel at home.
“Our guest amenities provide everything for the traveling family,” explains Cheng. “Our property consists of so many activities on site and is a short distance to many San Diego attractions. Shopping, dining, the beach, the bay, all within walking distance.”
During their non-group time, guests can use the weekend to get pampered with yoga classes and spa treatments – think Vichy showers, facials and massages. For brides who want a bachelorette party or a girls get-together, La Costa Resort and Spa offers celebration packages which include a 50 minute treatment, spa lunch and full day use of the spa facilities.
Guests can get active with surfing lessons, swimming, tennis matches and golf outings. Don’t forget — there’s always the option to relax poolside with a good book and a great cocktail!
“They tend to stay here because we have so much to do like bike rentals, the beach, and the kids’ club activities like treasure hunts and pizza making classes,” says Bernier. “Kids stay busy and the adults can relax.”
Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa offers many kids activities too including daily bird shows, kids’ camps featuring crafts and cruises on Mission Bay in Sternwheelers.
La Costa Resort and Spa is ready to entertain kids also with a variety of activities such as their radical reptile show, splash landing pool, Kidtopia kids club and Vibz game lounge, as well as “dive-in” movies and s’mores roasting.
Your wedding is the most special day of your life. But who says you can’t prolong the party by hosting a wedding weekend? You and your guests will have a blast and that means your event will be talked about for years to come. They’ll remember your hospitality, the laughs they had and the relaxing visit they enjoyed in San Diego. How sweet is that?