How to Survive an Entire Wedding Weekend

A wedding isn’t just a half hour in a church or temple and a few hours of dinner and dancing. For most couples, it’s just the centerpiece of a long weekend. And you need to prepare for extended time with family and friends from out of town. Here are some important things to consider when filling out your guest list and arranging three to four days of activities.

Brush up on your hosting skills. You’ll need to host a welcome party, a rehearsal dinner, your wedding itself, your reception, possibly a late-night after-party, and a morning-after brunch or picnic. 

Limit the number of guests. Everyone will be invited to your ceremony and reception, but you can limit your other gatherings to a select few — the bridal party for one event, the out-of-towners for another, etc.

Who are you feeding? It’s up to you or your parents to provide meals for everyone at your reception and your rehearsal dinner. Your guests are on their own for any other events. You may want to choose a hotel that hosts a Sunday brunch where everyone pays at the door, so guests can arrive when they’re ready. If you’re having an after-party, everyone should know it’s a no-host, with a cash bar, so you’re free to leave when you get tired. More after-party tips here.

Who needs hotel rooms? When you get a feel for the number of out-of-town guests, find a hotel near your reception site (maybe your reception will be in the hotel itself). Reserve a block of rooms, then notify everyone to call the hotel and book their reservations under your wedding. You reserve, they pay. 

Give people something to do. You won’t be face-to-face with every single guest for the entire weekend. Do some research to find cool activities for your guests. Cities like Chicago have museums, beaches, concerts, sporting events, zoos, parks and lots of other tourist-friendly attractions for your visitors. Compile a list of them, with phone numbers and web site addresses. If you have a wedding web site, post the list there; otherwise, mail or email it.

Don’t forget the kids. If children are invited to your wedding, be sure to have some chaperoned child-friendly activities, so the adults can enjoy some grown-up time with each other. More kid-friendly ideas here.

Have a “plan B” for bad weather. Try to limit the number of outdoor events over your wedding weekend, or have alternative locations already selected, and let everyone know in advance where they are. That way, they won’t be caught off-guard, feeling left out. Will your Sunday picnic be ruined by rain? Nope. Just find a nearby buffet restaurant that can handle a crowd without reservations. More weather tips here.

By arranging activities that don’t require your presence every minute, you’ll have plenty of relaxing quiet time to yourselves, while still ensuring that your guests have a great weekend.  

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2017 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company. 

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