Planning Destination Wedding Events (Group Excursions Guide)


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How Many Events You Should Plan for Your Destination Wedding? Group Excursions Advice.

March 6, 2023

We are answering another FAQ this morning regarding Group Excursions (one of our favorite topics!). This topic often comes in questions like this: Should I be planning other events throughout the week? Welcome Cocktails? Group excursions? 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? Do we have to plan anything?

This post was originally published in 2020 but has been updated in 2023.

[PSSSST: So glad you found us here! It can be so frustrating to spend hours searching for wedding planning information when a majority of what you find online is either *so old* or completely geared toward all inclusive resort weddings. WE MADE THIS FOR YOU. In this 100+ page guide, there is information about all inclusive weddings (of course) but there is also PAGES & PAGES of budgeting, hiring vendors (when they aren’t all put in a nice little package for you), choosing a destination, arranging travel for your guests OUTSIDE of an all inclusive and so much more]

So, What Events & Group Excursions Should You Plan for Your Destination Wedding Week?


A Welcome Event

This is an absolute must. Whether you organize a beach cocktail party, a welcome dinner (the hotel may let you reserve tables free of charge) or simply meeting at the lobby bar at a certain time – it doesn’t really matter what you choose! The goal of a welcome event is to give your guests a chance to mingle with one another so they will see familiar faces throughout the week. This helps guests feel more comfortable right away (especially guests who may not know anyone else attending!). Seeing friendly faces is never a bad idea and this event sets the tone for the week!

Tips for Ensuring a Successful Welcome Event

  • We recommend your welcome event be hosted on the night after you arrive. Not everyone travels well and wants to be rushed to an event. You also don’t want to add stress & FOMO if some flights are delayed.
  • Welcome Cocktails is a great time to hand out welcome bags! If you chose not to hand out the welcome bags yourself, the resort will often charge a “distribution fee” to put them in the guests rooms on your behalf, and honestly, delivery can be inconsistent.
  • Be a good host! Arrive early and mix and mingle with your guests. Make sure to take special care introducing and welcoming guests who don’t know anyone else.
Welcome Cocktails

Group Excursions!

If you do have room in your wedding budget, group excursions can be a great way to show your guests how much you appreciate them making the trip. If you don’t have room in your wedding budget to foot the bill, you may want to consider planning an optional excursion anyway. Just make sure to follow our etiquette tips below!

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 Day: Popular in Mexico are Xcaret, Xplor, Xel-Ha, etc. These parks are GREAT for groups with lots of children but there is something for everyone to have a good time.
  • 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 though, please.
  • Explore local. The options are really endless. Enjoy a foodie tour, a wine or tequila tasting, visit the Mayan ruins if you are in Mexico or Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica.

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: All Inclusive Resorts don’t usually offer a typical wedding rehearsal but if you would like one, you can always ask to 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 proper etiquette to invite everyone.

Beach Day: Remember earlier, when we 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, 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.

How Many Group Excursions (or Auxiliary Events) Should You Plan?

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!

We are lucky here in Canada most guests travel for the full 7 days so you have lots of time with your family and friends. We usually say three events is the absolute tops, and you can consider making one of these three 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)

These extra events don’t have to be extravagant but really do contribute to the overall experience. 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. Even just committing where you’ll be will make guests feel like they have “somewhere to go” if they are the type that prefer a little more direction.

How Do We Organize A Group Excursion?

Depending on the style & formality, you can send a formal invitation with an RSVP option, or simply send out a group email or post in your wedding Facebook group to see who is interested in joining! Your travel agent or wedding planner can arrange group excursions that are private (like a group catamaran) or something that guests just need to purchase a ticket for (like Coco Bongo). Do NOT try to do this yourself because trust us, it is more work than you would think to keep everything organized. We also often have relationships with vendors that are local to your wedding destination to make planning easier.

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