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Organizing A Weekend Of Wedding Fun

May 28, 2008
It used to be that most couples had fairly low-key weddings. A ceremony in the local church was often followed by a brief cake and punch reception in the church hall, the bride changed into her going away outfit, and off the couple went for their honeymoon trip. This is no longer the case; weddings have certainly become much more opulent and large-scale (should we ride to the reception in a Hummer limo or in Cinderella's coach?), but sometimes they are only the main event in an entire weekend of wedding festivities.

The trend towards jam-packed wedding weekends has a lot to do with the distance that many guests travel to weddings these days. If your favorite cousin is flying in from Sweden for your nuptials, seeing him for only a few minutes at your reception hardly seems like enough time. Often couples will plan an entire calendar of events stretching from Thursday to Sunday. How then, to fill all that time, and communicate the details to your guests?

The first step is to get the information out to your guests early, in the form of save-the-date cards (many couples like to make a first impression with creative alternatives to regular paper - magnets are particularly popular). Get these mailed out months in advance of your wedding - even six months would not be too early for a wedding held in a busy season. This way, your guests can know to set aside a bigger block of time, including travel. It is not necessary to overwhelm your invitees with a huge portfolio of specifics at this time - the place, dates, and of course the bride and groom's names will suffice. (Guests are not expected to respond to save-the-date announcements. You should include the phrase "invitation to follow" somewhere on the card, and they will then R.S.V.P. to that.)

Once your guests accept your invitation, that is the time to send out a packet outlining all of the activities that you have planned. Make the weekend information coordinate with the rest of your wedding stationary; an envelope stuffed with photocopies just would not make the same impression. (And please do not ever invite people to special events by e-mail. It really do not do justice to them.) One caveat: although it is very thoughtful to have made arrangements for activities your guests will enjoy, do not try to micromanage their every moment. You cannot impose a minute-by-minute schedule on adults.

A typical weekend of wedding events might look like this:

Thursday - a casual lunch followed by a sightseeing tour. Many of your guests may not have arrived yet, so keep this day informal and easygoing. This would also be a good day to host a luncheon for your bridesmaids, at which time you can present your flower girl and bridesmaid gifts. It is much better to hand out your bridesmaid gifts at an intimate lunch or tea than in the midst of the much larger rehearsal dinner. For that evening, provide a list of local restaurants, clubs, etc. that your guests might enjoy exploring on their own. On this night, it is best not to plan a gathering that everyone will feel obligated to attend. This also gives the bride and groom a chance to visit with close family and friends as they start to arrive.

Friday - now things really swing into gear. You could set up an open breakfast that guests can drop into, from, say 8 - 10 am, in a suite in the hotel where most are staying. Follow that with a fun activity that will bring everyone together. You might plan a golf or tennis tournament with lunch served afterwards. For Friday afternoon, put together a list of local sites that guests can go see on their own, such as shopping, sight, or great museums. The bridal party will be busy with the rehearsal. It used to be that the dinner after the rehearsal only included members of the wedding party and immediate family, but with so many out-of-town guests these days, sometimes the rehearsal dinner is almost as large (and elaborate) as the reception. Because you will need an exact head count, do send out a separate invitation for the rehearsal dinner, which is usually hosted by the groom's family. Schedule the rehearsal dinner to start early, because the bride needs to get a full night of beauty sleep before the big day!

Saturday - the wedding day, at last! The bride and her attendants will be tied up all day with hair and makeup, but often couples do still offer something for the guests to do. Another informal breakfast would be a nice idea to start the day. After that, it depends on the time that the ceremony begins. For a 1 pm service, breakfast would be plenty, because everyone needs time to get ready. For a 5 or 6pm start time, it might be smart to plan some sort of activity, if for no other reason than to cut down on the free time the groom and his guys have to start partying before the wedding (if you have ever watched those wedding shows on tv, you will have noticed that drunken groomsmen seem to be a recurring theme!) One thing that is wonderful for the bride and her attendants, if time allows, is a private yoga session. It is the perfect way to calm those pre-wedding nerves. Then, of course, comes the main event, the ceremony and reception!

But it doesn't end there. Most newlyweds are waiting one extra day before leaving for their honeymoon, so that they can see their guests one more time on Sunday morning. Even those couples who did not plan an entire weekend of wedding fun often have a brunch the next morning. Start it fairly late (like 10am or after) so that those who had a late night have a chance to recover. The post wedding brunch is a relaxing time for the bride and groom to catch up with their friends and family. The brunch is a wonderful way to cap off a festive and busy weekend before the newlyweds head off to begin their new life together.
About the Author
Bridget loves to write about weddings and jewelry. She has extensive experience in helping brides select wedding jewelry for the bride and her bridesmaids. SilverlandJewelry.com specialises in helping find the right bridesmaid gifts .
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