The Expert Guide to Designing a Cohesive Wedding Weekend
March 6, 2023
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Planning a wedding is a daunting task, but organizing a wedding weekend adds more layers of complexity to the process. From keeping the events in proximity to one another to having a cohesive theme for the weekend, there are many details to consider. Hiring a wedding planner, creating a schedule of events, and having a great website to share information are some of the top tips from wedding experts for organizing a memorable and stress-free wedding weekend.
Make your guests’ experience the top priority.
“When planning a cohesive wedding weekend, make the guest experience your top priority. Consider that many of your guests may be coming in from out of town and may have already endured several hours of travel. Asking guests to then travel many more miles between events and locations can really put a damper on the overall guest experience. Consider keeping events in close proximity to one another and consider also offering transportation between events to make things as easy and enjoyable for guests as possible.” – Mandy Connor, Owner, Hummingbird Events & Design
Hire a great wedding planner.
“Of course, I am biased, but hiring a wedding planner should be your first – and most crucial – step to ensuring your wedding weekend is flawlessly coordinated. A full wedding weekend often incorporates multiple events, sometimes across several venues and time frames. Having a dedicated planning team who can handle the checks and balances of vendor arrivals, setup, timing, and overall troubleshooting is imperative! The last thing you want to deal with as the bride or groom is answering last-minute calls and questions while you are trying to enjoy your celebrations. Having a wedding planner with a reliable and experienced team to support them allows you to enjoy every moment of your weekend and know that it will go off without a hitch!” – Alexandra Denniston, Owner & Lead Planner, Eventlightenment Planning
Don’t replicate events throughout the weekend.
“Don’t make the mistake of replicating events across the weekend. Host events that look and feel different from one another – repetition breeds boredom! Consider hosting a laid-back rehearsal dinner followed by welcome drinks in a separate location and for each event, consider tying into a new theme (like a tiki party, a clambake or a beach BBQ!) so that guests experience a variety of fun and exciting options throughout the weekend.” – Mandy Connor, Owner, Hummingbird Events & Design
Make the experience personal for your guests.
“Start with what you want your guests to experience. Pepper in what you + your SO would do if YOU were traveling to the region your wedding is taking place in, and how you’d explore/make the most of it. Seal this with expert/efficient communication surrounding dates, times, dress code, and what your guests can expect each day. I recommend heavily involving your stationer to create collateral that can be included in the welcome bags waiting for guests in their hotel rooms. As always, inform your wedding planning team of all your hopes and dreams as it relates to their guests’ experience – we’re here to help!” – Ashley Lachney, Owner, Alston Mayger Events
Pay attention to the details.
“Whether it’s a small group of close friends and family or an extravagant affair with hundreds of guests, there are many details that need to be considered in order to create a cohesive wedding weekend – complete with a welcome party and farewell brunch. Create an overall theme for the weekend. This will help with planning the activities and entertainment throughout the trip. Consider the flow of events. What happens first? What happens last? How do we transition from one activity to another? Where will your events take place? Will they all occur at the same location, or will you choose to host each event in a different place? You may want to consider transportation for guests if you decide to host your events in multiple locations. Make sure that your guests are aware of each event. Inform them about the time and place, as well as any important details such as dress code, transportation or other pertinent information.” – Anna Rodenbeck, Whitehead + Co.
Have a great website set up.
“Make sure that you have shared all of the information well in advance and have specified RSVP by dates so that all activities are properly booked! Also, be sure that you have a website that recaps everything so that everyone can refer back to it easily from their phones whilst on the move.” – Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, La Fete
Print a schedule of events.
“A printed schedule of events is an essential part of your destination wedding day stationery, helping your guests keep track of all the festivities and opportunities to participate throughout the wedding weekend. Not only does this give your guests a clear overview of what’s in store, but it also allows them to plan their travel around the important dates outside of the actual ceremony and reception. Including the schedule as part of your invitation ensures that your guests have all the information they need to make the most of their trip to your wedding.” – Catherine, Atelier Azure
“If you’re planning on having multiple events spanning over the course of the weekend, one of the best ways to ensure things stay cohesive in your design is by utilizing the same vendors! Ask your planner, florist, rental company, etc. if they can help with each different event leading up to the wedding. Your catering company might even have alternative menus available so you don’t repeat dishes. You can also use similar signage and color schemes throughout each event to keep each one feeling unique but still a part of the larger picture.” – Kari Dirksen, CEO + Lead Planner, Feathered Arrow Events
Come up with a central idea, style or theme.
“The first thing to design a cohesive theme for your wedding weekend is to come up with a central idea, style or theme in the first place! What do you like to do together? How did you meet? What are your favorite restaurants, hotels and cities? Bring in some of the aesthetics of those ideas to come up with the style of your wedding and that will be key in aligning everything around it so that the colors, fonts, style, music, food, patterns and timing can all be aligned. The decor should accent the venue, not go against it. If you are ever unsure of a decision, go back to your original idea and characteristics. Creating a visual document that showcases sample photos of decor and ideas to share with all of the vendors while planning will be a valuable tool, not to stick with every idea exactly as pictured, but for everyone to elaborate and build upon. ” – Valarie Falvey, Kirkbrides
Have an onsite planner.
“No matter how big or small the wedding weekend events may be, we always recommend having your planner onsite for additional coordination assistance. During a stressful time like the days surrounding your wedding, the last thing you want to think about is the details for a welcome party or what you’ll be serving at the farewell brunch. By including your planner in these types of decisions, you can ensure that from start to finish, your weekend will be organized, guests will be taken care of, and everything will be perfectly in place.” – Ari Busch, Operations Manager and Lead Planner, Bridal Bliss