Planning a Wedding with Out-of-Town Guests
Our wedding is not a destination wedding. We’ve each lived in Atlanta for more than 5 years and have grown to call it home. We’re getting married at a venue that’s exactly 1.5 miles from our apartment. That’s so close, you guys. We could walk there in 30 minutes.
But for the vast majority of our guest list, Atlanta is a destination. One that requires, at minimum, one plane, two taxis and a few nights at a hotel. Let’s figure out how this happened using a Miss Hen and Mr. Rooster stick figure infographic:
I grew up in Miami and went to school in Gainesville (Go Gators!). Roo grew up in Brighton and went to school in Kalamazoo (Go Broncos!). On our 100-person guest list there’s a handful of friends we’ve met in Atlanta and a few respective hometown friends who have scattered around the country and the world, but a huge proportion of our guests will be traveling hundreds of miles from Florida or Michigan to be with us.
Not that our rowdy crew of friends and family are strangers to traveling for weddings. Roo and I have made treks to Michigan, Florida and everywhere in between for our friends’ nuptuals before.
In Brighton, Michigan at Roo’s friend’s wedding.
Yours truly getting glam as a bridesmaid in Lake Mary, Florida.
Roo (far right) with the rest of the groomsmen at his own future groomsman’s wedding in East Lansing, Michigan.
The wedding party (me on the far left) at a friend’s bash in Clearwater, Florida.
As experienced out-of-town guests, I feel like we have a good grip on what we need to do to make our own out-of-town wedding guests comfortable during our wedding weekend. It’s impacted a lot of our planning, and added some unique struggles:
- Hotels: Arranging for hotel blocks is an even more important wedding task when you know the properties you choose are going to be the home base for the majority of your guests for the weekend. We chose two hotels in the same neighborhood to give guests options, and we’ve kept in mind things like transportation and walkability when organizing events around the wedding like…
- Host a Meet & Greet: In a previous post, I talked about our not-rehearsal dinner. With so many out-of-town guests, it would have been impossible to host everyone at another formal (or even semi-formal) dinner the night before the wedding on our budget. Instead, we’ve reserved a room and some snacks at a bar and grill closeby and our guests are all welcome to join and mingle.
- Getting Info Out Early: In our experience, as soon as we set the date, lots of our guests wanted to set up their travel and lodging right away. We planned on arranging hotel blocks and setting up a wedding website with travel details, but we definitely didn’t have it ready a year out from our date when we booked the venue. Even though conventional advice suggests sending out Save-the-Date announcements and details six months out from the wedding, we’re doing it a bit sooner for the early birds to make travel arrangements.
- “The Ratio”: Every former bride and vendor has told me, “You’ll usually get a 75% acceptance rate from your invited guests.” But I just. Dont. Know. There’s too many variables. Out-of-town guests are less likely to come, right? But our 100-person invite list is actually a really tight group for us (Roo comes from a big family), and is pretty much all VVIP’s. Skimming our invite list, we can’t pick out anyone who will for sure send back a “no.” We’re using a ballpark of 90 final guests (we’ll expand our list to include ‘B’ guests if we do stay true to the 75% rule), but I’m eager to report back after the wedding with our actual acceptance rate.
It might seem like a lot of trouble, but we’re happy to do it all. Like I said, our guests are all VVIPs and a huge priority for our day is to make sure they have a good time. Are there any other challenges or considerations for out-of-town guests that I’m forgetting? The goal is a weekend full of endless fun and hospitality.