Choosing your wedding locations can be a difficult decision, but one that should be made early! Are you curious why I say location(s), plural? Several locations are typically considered for a most memorable wedding weekend event! Let’s think about it from an out-of-town guest’s perspective. A portion of the guest list is likely from out of town, whether that be extended family, immediate family, or college friends. When out-of-town (OT) guests arrive, first they will need to check in to a hotel, or lodging location, for the wedding weekend, likely on a Friday night. Most hotels have a 3:30 pm or 4:00 pm check in time. These times must be considered if guests are expected to then proceed to the rehearsal and/or rehearsal dinner following their arrival. So, location #1 is the hotel / lodging location, with time and proximity to wedding events considered. Let’s continue with the flow of wedding weekend events from the OT guest perspective.
They’ve traveled a distance, located the hotel, checked in, and now need to attend the rehearsal. (Guest gift bags are a nice touch and can be given to the hotel staff in advance to distribute to these guests who reserved a room under the wedding block. The bags, or baskets, may include some water, small snacks, an itinerary, and directions, specifically to make the wedding weekend comfortable for OT guests.) The rehearsal should be held on site of the ceremony, whether that be a church, wedding facility, farm / barn, or home. 5:00 / 5:30 pm is a reasonable time for the rehearsal, allowing time for check in and transport to the location, which hopefully is strategically close in proximity. Rehearsal typically takes one hour when a coordinator is present and a detailed timeline of the weekend has been created. Location #2 is rehearsal site and now our OT guests are hungry! What’s next?!
The rehearsal dinner venue will be location #3. This venue may or may not be the same as #2. Couples may rehearse in a church and then proceed to a restaurant for the dinner. Couples may rehearse on the farm and then have a dinner catered there (getting extra use of their rented tent, tables, and chairs). Either way, the plan should be clear in the itinerary with directions included. 6:30 / 7:00 pm is a common time for the rehearsal dinner. All traditional rehearsal dinner speeches and gifts can be completed in a reasonable amount of time so that everyone can get their rest for the big day!
It’s wedding day and here’s where things can get tricky! The wedding party will have their own agenda, already communicated by the bride and groom. Typically, the groom and groomsmen will be at a designated location (#4), while the bride and bridesmaids are getting hair and makeup done at a salon or separate designated location (#5). When planning, transportation and breakfast must be considered. Prior to the ceremony, there are usually two assigned “getting ready” rooms, which are on-site, but separate, to keep the groom from seeing the bride. Speaking of the ceremony (#6), this may be the first item on the agenda for OT guests not in the wedding party. Depending on the start time of the ceremony, OT guests may need some breakfast, lunch, shopping, things-to-do options on their itinerary. For example, guests staying at The George Washington Hotel should have information about the walking mall and local near-by restaurants. Also, if OT guests are not in the wedding party, they may not come into town until wedding day! These guests may go directly to the ceremony, especially if the start time is prior to check in (another determining factor in setting the ceremony time). After tying the knot, it’s party time!
The wedding reception is only the seventh location we’ve had to consider, and this one tends to be a really big deal! If the guest list includes a large number of OT guests, one option is to have your reception at the hotel, location #1! I mentioned The George Washington Hotel as an example above and their Grand Ballroom serves as a beautiful reception venue. Planning your lodging and reception venue to be the same keeps things safe and simple for OT guests. However, outdoor / farm / barn receptions are the trend right now! If that’s your dream, no problem! Consider proximity and transportation and include specific directions with the itinerary. It is a must to coordinate how to get OT guests back to the hotel, or for some, it may be to the hotel for the first time!
And just like that, the wedding day is over in a flash. A post-wedding brunch (#8) may be considered and serves as a send-off. Sometimes the send-off takes place at the end of the reception as the bride and groom depart for their honeymoon or separate hotel at the airport. Other times, the bride and groom stay at the same hotel in a suite or “secret” room, and they attend the breakfast to thank their guests and everyone departs at the same time!
Michelle’s Main Event can help you with all of these location decisions! We specialize in planning the timeline, the itinerary, the transportation schedule, guest gift bags, and every last detail to make things go smoothly. There are so many things to personalize and so many perspectives and guest needs to consider, while unfolding the vision and the dreams of the bride and groom….and we LOVE it!