Should I be planning other events throughout the week? Welcome Cocktails? A group excursion? This is definitely one of my most frequently asked questions – and for good reason! How many events should you be planning for a 7 day trip? Is there a balance between making your guests feel cared for and not annoyed? I know wedding couples tend to be busy enough trying to “do it all”
Everyone’s travel style is so different. On one hand, this might be someone’s only vacation and they want their own time (either to lie on the beach or keep busy with excursions). You definitely don’t want to fill their time so that they don’t get a chance to do whatever they like to do on their vacations! Not to mention, it would get pretty expensive if you plan on hosting private events or group excursions every day. That being said, your guests have traveled far and wide to see you and they will appreciate some extra time guaranteed with you throughout the week. They are excited to celebrate with you!
The Middle Ground
I think three events is the absolute tops, and I would consider making one of these three optional! If you think about your typical week-long vacation, two of the days are “lost” with travel so three is a happy middle ground (but maybe a bit too much for some which is why I would consider making the third event optional).
One event that I think you should strongly consider, is hosting welcome cocktails for your guests. Some of your guests may not know anyone else and having this early enough in the week ensures that they will at least recognize a few familiar faces around the resort over the next week. This is also a great opportunity to hand out welcome bags (if you are planning on handing them out!).
Money Talk (& Etiquette)
If you are panicked thinking you are maxed out with your wedding budget, don’t worry. These extra events can be as extravagant as you like (but they don’t need to be!). Etiquette wise, any event you organize, you should be paying for. So if you are thinking a Sunset Catamaran would be the perfect group excursion, prepare to organize (and pay for it) ahead of time. If you want a private event on the beach for welcome cocktails, set aside some room in your wedding budget for that.
Maxed out on your wedding budget? We can get creative. Telling everyone to meet at the lobby bar for 7 pm is easy (and included in your all inclusive package). Some resorts will even let you book a reservation at one of the a la carte restaurants in advance. Some resorts will charge for this reservation but some will do this for free so it is worth asking!! Even just committing where you’ll be will make guests feel like they have “somewhere to go” if they prefer a little more direction.
So, What Should You Plan?
A Welcome Event
I touched on this a little earlier but to me, this is the only one that is an absolute must. Whether you organize a beach cocktail party (expect to pay the resort for this), a welcome dinner (if the hotel will let you reserve tables) or just meeting at a certain bar at a certain time – it doesn’t really matter what you choose! It just gives your guests a chance to mingle with one another so they will see familiar faces throughout the week (especially for those guests who may not know anyone else attending!).
A few things to keep in mind:
- This is better on the second night. Not everyone travels well and might not feel up to it. This is especially true when you have guests coming in from different cities as their arrival times will be different. People like a chance to get settled.
- This is a great time to hand out welcome bags, if you choose to have them! The resort will often charge a “distribution fee” to put them in the guests rooms on your behalf, and to be honest, the delivery is usually inconsistent anyway.
- Be a good host! Arrive early and mix and mingle with your guests. Make sure to take special care introducing guests who don’t know anyone else.
Other Ideas (The Sky is the Limit!)
Just a reminder, I think the rule of three is appropriate here. In my humble opinion, you should make the welcome event and wedding more “mandatory” (not the right word choice.. but you get the idea), and have any additional events more optional/casual (with an RSVP still required, of course!). Below are a few ideas you might want to use!
Rehearsal Dinner: Resorts don’t usually offer a typical wedding rehearsal but if you would like one, you can always arrange it! Decide if you want just the wedding party and family there, or the whole group and make plans accordingly. Usually for Destination Weddings, it is usually considered general etiquette to invite everyone.
Beach Day: Remember earlier, when I said even telling guests where you’ll be makes them feel a little better? Commit to having a beach day one of the days, or tell guests you will be at the adults only pool the day after the wedding! Wherever you’ll be then guests will feel “in the loop” and like they can stop by and celebrate with you at their leisure.
Morning After Brunch: Mornings are always casual and are almost always “buffet style” at the resorts. Just commit to a time and let your guests know when they can join you for breakfast and Congratulate you on the fabulous wedding last night.
This is the most If this doesn’t fit in your budget, don’t worry. You have still planned an incredible wedding and you guests are likely thrilled to be there. If you do have room in your wedding budget, the payoff can be incredible though. It is a great way to show your guests how much you appreciate them making the trip.
A few ideas, that make for great group excursions are:
- A Sunset Catamaran: Personally, I love this as a final “goodbye” event. It doesn’t need to happen at sunset either! When it comes to Catamarans/Yacht excursions, their are sunset cruises, lunch excursions, the list goes on! There are boats that take you to small islands and let you get off and party or there are boats with snorkel equipment. The sky is the limit!
- A “Theme” Park: Popular in Mexico are Xcaret, Xplor, Xel-Ha, etc. No matter where you go, there is likely a theme park or something that will have a little “something for everyone” on your list.
- Coco Bongo: Have more of a young crowd? Coco Bongo or other popular bars make for great bachelor/bachelorette parties while you are down there! NOT before the night of the wedding, please.
Have you chosen a destination or resort for your own wedding yet? I would love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or head to my contact form here. I would love to chat about how I can help make sure your Destination Wedding is exactly as you pictured. If you don’t know me yet, I will offer up a quick reminder that I don’t charge any service fees: I get paid directly from the resort or tour operator we book with. It is the perfect situation: truly a win-win.
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