San Diego is a bit of a destination wedding town already, with many events being planned by couples who do not call California home themselves. But even for those of us who are locals, planning the big day often means inviting most of our guests from out of town. So how do you help those guests to make the most of their trip, recognizing they have traveled just for you.
The trick is to do a little planning before the invites ever even go out. Once you have selected a venue, inquire with local hotels about availability and special group rates. If you are getting married at a big resort, try securing a block of rooms with your package – even if you can just get a few, it help the wedding party and your parents to be able to stay onsite. If you are planning on having a large wedding, reserve room blocks at two or three different levels of hotels nearby and include that information both on your wedding website and with your invitations. This will allow your guests to have a few options to choose from, without having to do the research themselves.
Put together a wedding itinerary with your coordinator for the days leading up to and following your “I Do’s”, letting your guests know what to expect and when they can plan on seeing you. Include important details such as directions to the events they are invited to and times when meals will be served . Post this to your wedding website, but also have it printed for inclusion in a guest packet that will be waiting for each of your out of town friends and family when they check into their hotels.
Other items of importance to include in this guest packet might be a list of local attractions they may want to check out, and restaurants near the hotel they shouldn’t miss. Pick up a few local brochures if you can, as well as area maps to help your friends and family get around. Make sure to include some of your favorite spots as well, allowing your guests to get a taste of what your life in San Diego looks like.
Along with the guest packet, think about leaving something small for your guests upon check-in to express you appreciation for their travel. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant; a few water bottles and perhaps some coupons to local eateries, or some must-have beach accessories. If you can, personalize gift baskets to your guests. Include aspirin for the travelers you know are going to make the most of this party, and coloring books for family members who may have brought children. The point is to leave something behind that will let your guests know how truly grateful you are for their presence.
Consider organizing a shuttle that can get guests to and from the hotel on the big day, allowing them to drink at the reception if they choose without having to worry about driving back to the hotel. If there are opportunities for you to assist with transportation during other parts of their trip (perhaps recruiting some of the wedding party to handle a few of the airport pickups and drop-offs) your guests are sure to appreciate that as well.
By putting a little additional effort into your pre-wedding planning, you can make sure your friends and family enjoy their vacation and know how appreciative you are.
Jennifer Dery is an internationally known photographer based in San Diego, CA.
She specializes in documentary-style story telling that emphasizes the emotion and connection of everyone involved.
View more work on the website: jenniferdery.com