Back in May I went to Hawaii for a friend’s wedding.
I worked with the British born, Wellington raised groom in 2009 before he moved to Sydney and later Brisbane. With friends and family all over the world a destination wedding made sense.
The couple really made the experience brilliant and the little things they did are tips for all destination weddings wherever that may be, whatever your budget and however many guests.
Choose an accessible destination for guests
Hawaii was obviously a special place for these two (it was their third visit together, including the planning trip where they chose the venue), but as a guest, Oahu was a winner in that it is easy to get to and accessible from a number of major airports. There were guests from three Australian states, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and the UK.
Send a couple of emails to ensure all on track
If your guests have never been to the destination before they’ll likely have questions about their stay as well as the wedding day itself prior to arrival and I suspect the hosts of destination weddings become a little like travel agents.
Sending out a couple of group emails will prevent an inundation of questions and stress in the lead up by answering any common queries.
Communicate things such as:
- Are any visas required for entry to the country?
- Hotel information -where is everyone staying? Is there a group discount code to use when booking? With everyone nearby we could always meet in the lobby quite quickly and count on finding at least one person chilling by the pool or on the beach out the front at any time.
- Wedding location, where to be and when to get there
- Dress Code for the wedding itself
- Whether gifts are not expected given the expense to attend the day and the logistics of taking presents to and from the destination
- Social media policy – especially important in this case given people share holiday pics widely on social media. The couple asked us not to post photos of the wedding day on social media until they were back from their honeymoon. The ceremony itself was unplugged but taking photos of the reception were fine. There’s a free app called WedPics we all downloaded prior to the event instead to share our photos with each other.
Create a Facebook message group to keep everyone in the loop
With guests arriving and departing at different times and staying in different places, the Facebook group chat was a great way of letting people know our plans and inviting others to join in. Dinner bookings, taxi sharing and outings to do touristy things were arranged via the chat.
As I knew very few people when I arrived it was cool I could see what others were up to and join in where I wanted to for outings such as to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner and snorkelling with turtles.
Plan a few group meals and activities
A destination wedding means the Wedding is not the only event of the week. Trapped is the wrong word but guests were there for a week and did need more entertainment than just the wedding.
We had a Welcome Dinner, allowing us to meet everyone as well as not having to think about where to go for dinner on day of arrival after long haul flight. There was also a Farewell Picnic and as several more impromptu group dinners and excursions. People could join in as many or as few activities as they wanted and do their own thing the rest of the time, making it their own holiday.
Been to a destination wedding? What really made the experience?