Last week, friends of mine - the new Mr and Mrs Squire (pictured) - tied the knot on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. Being the guest at a destination wedding was great fun, but I really believe this was down to the bride and groom putting in a lot of thoughtful planning beforehand.
If you're organising a wedding abroad, then here are some tips to make sure your guests feel welcome and comfortable:
1. Welcome boxes or bags for your guests
Source some inexpensive paper bags or card boxes and fill with goodies. Practical ideas include a map of the local area (with asterisks marking the cash-points would have been especially helpful for us!), recommendations for things to do in the area; cycle routes, shopping malls, beauty salons, local tourist spots. Dull, but essential additions include insect repellent and plug converters! Edible treats also work well. We received bags of homemade Trail Mix, a tasty American snack, but miniature pots of preserves or homemade biscuits are other great options. Distribute the welcome packs to each hotel room.
2. Pre-wedding celebrations
Most guests will use your wedding as an opportunity to take a holiday, and are likely to arrive at the location a few days before the Big Day. This was certainly the case in Kiawah Island, and as a guest, it was lovely to be invited to casual bbq's and suppers in the lead up to the wedding. There were rounds of golf pre-booked for the boys, and reservations made at the beauty salon for the girls. By the time the wedding came around, all the guests had got to know one another, which made for an even better party!
3. Thoughtful touches for the ceremony
Consider the time of day you'll be getting married and the temperature. Ensure that guests are able to be sheltered from the sun if you're getting married around noon, when the sun is at its hottest. Hand-held fans are ideal for guests to use during the ceremony. Little bottles of water on each seat are an inexpensive but thoughtful touch, especially for elderly guests. If you're planning a dusk wedding, then the all-important insect repellent is a must. For beach weddings, arrange buckets filled with flip-flops at the entrance and encourage guests to abandon their shoes!
If you're planning a destination wedding and want to share your tips, I'd love to hear them. Send me a comment below.