An ode to the wedding weekends: weddings that go all weekend long!

Guests hanging out around the campfire at my wedding, hour 30 of 48. Photo by Megan Hill of Hello Super Studios.
Guests hanging out around the campfire at my wedding, hour 30 of 48. Photo by Megan Hill of Hello Super Studios.

Oh, wedding weekends. Yes, I'm biased because I had one, but they are awesome. AWESOME! A wedding that lasts all weekend long makes your wedding more than just an evening event, or a so-called "special daaaaaay" … it provides your guests with the gift of time. Time to really get to know each other. Time to visit with you and your partner. Time to really explore a space and a landscape. Time not just to eat and drink and dance, but time to talk and sleep and share.

I went to a wedding weekend last month in Marin County, and a chunk of the guests stayed at a hostel together. We all paid for our own accommodations and took care of our own food for the weekend, but by being in one space from Friday until Sunday, it allowed us the opportunity to get to know each other outside of just ceremony/eating&drinking/dancing. By the end of the weekend, I was hiking to the beach with a fellow guest I'd only just met a couple days before, giggling like old friends.

Yes, organizing a wedding weekend can be complex and intimidating… You're not just thinking about one meal; you're thinking about four or five. You're not just thinking about reception decor, you're thinking about where everyone will stay. You're not just providing a list of things to do in the area — you're actually doing them with your guests. Your wedding party or band of merry helpers aren't just helping you get ready for the ceremony — they have titles like "Sr. Camp Counselor" or "Logisticator Extreme."

Complexities aside, wedding weekends don't need to be more expensive. It doesn't have to be about flying all your guests to a pricey destination and feeding, housing, and entertaining them for three days. As all of you who've read my book know, our wedding was a $6000 affair where most guests camped in the woods at my mom's commune. We've featured wedding weekends that have happened at campgrounds and summer camps, rural B&Bs, family properties, and more.

That said, there are a few important factors to keep in mind when considering a wedding weekends:

  • Guest comfort (We made sure older and non-camping family members had accommodations.)
  • Sociability (Our friends & family are a social bunch and love chatting. If your community of friends&fam are known for being introverted, forcing them to hang out for three days might not feel right.)
  • Micromanaging (For control freaks, it can be a challenge not to try to schedule every minute of the weekend or feel like you're responsible for every minute of every guests' experience. If you're too Type A, a wedding weekends may be a serious challenge.)

But if it makes sense for your personality, and your community, and your wedding? Oh man, wedding weekends are some sweet times. Want to see a few awesome examples? Check our wedding weekend archive.

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  1. I envy people that can/would hang with their nearest and dearest for so long. Unfortunately, my family is a testy bunch. There would be fights, hurt feelings, and probably blood spilled by the end of it all. Hell, I don't think we'll get through the reception without it.

    Well, that and I'm as introverted as a person can be without becoming a turtle. A rehearsal dinner and after-morning brunch feels like way too much interaction for me. I'll have to grit through them and stare at my feet a lot.

    5 agree
    • I feel the same way about my family. My friends would totally be for something like that, but with my family I think I'd rather cut off my arm with a rusty spoon then hang out with them for a weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

      3 agree
  2. We're doing a 'weekend wedding' thing, too. Kind of. In Hawaii. We have family coming from all over the world, but mostly Australia and the US. It's a midway point, most have never been to Hawaii and it's over 4th of July weekend, so many are thrilled to be able to take an extended vacation for the holiday. Sure, it's difficult for many, especially cost wise, but likely they'll be the ones not attending. We picked a resort that includes a holy buttload of amenities and activities so to add to our guests' comfort.

    1 agrees
    • We're doing pretty much the exact same thing. Our wedding's on a Thursday, though. ๐Ÿ™‚ And we're just renting a house!

      1 agrees
        • We ended up finding a place through vrbo.com. It took a *lot* of calling around to find a place that allowed weddings (even small ones like mine), though! Thank goodness my mom helped me, as time zones are a bitch (I live in Australia, which is problematic).

  3. Our ceremony band (The Grapes of Love Volunteer Folk Choir) were a group of our closest and most musically talented friends. They came on a Thursday for our Saturday wedding to arrange and rehearse the 5 songs for our ceremony — which turned it into an unofficial Weekend Wedding for them! It was really fun. A few people became really great friends after participating, and we're even talking about a reunion campout/jam for them sometime soon!

  4. My husband and I are originally from Texas but we currently live in Philly. Without a doubt, we knew we wanted to get married back in our home-state. However, our family and friends are spread out all over the place (both coasts & Mexico). We knew that it was asking a lot to travel so far but we tried to make the best out of the entire weekend.

    We rented a huge house in Austin for the fraction of the cost of a banquet hall and had plenty of karaoke parties and cook-offs the entire weekend. I'm not saying it wasn't stressful and the term "herding cats" was definitely evident for some parts of the weekend, but one of my favorite memories is seeing friends and family hanging out together and having a good time.

    I think it was some of the advice given on Offbeatbride that says that a wedding is basically you're first time hosting a family reunion and that's how I like to think of our wedding weekend. If it's in your time and budget constraints, I would definitely suggest trying to coordinate a weekend, especially if many guests will be traveling from afar.

    4 agree
  5. We're having a Sunday morning wedding with a Brunch reception at Disney World in Orlando. We did this for several specific reasons:

    1. Only 4 of our guests live in our state with us. Anywhere we would have held our wedding would have been a destination wedding for 90% of our guests.

    2. Cheap flights to Orlando during value season abound, so it's actually cheaper for people to fly there than to us in most cases.

    3. Value season at the resorts + wedding discount == good room deals for guests.

    4. It's Disney World. Our guests can hang out with us around the resort for the weekend prior to the wedding. We can go hang out at Downtown Disney and shop. They can just chill by the pool, or they can go to the parks. They can have as much togetherness or freedom as they desire. There's also free transportation from the airport to the resorts and from the resorts to the entertainment. And.. Kid friendly.

    For us, this is an awesome opportunity to spend a whole weekend with our friends and family and for some, they are opting to turn the wedding into a vacation and enjoying some time there on their own either before or after the wedding.

    For those who just want to have a more traditional fly in/wedding/leave, they can also do that since they can fly in on Friday night and leave Sunday after the reception ends at 3pm if they prefer that and not miss work at all.

    We wanted something that would afford people a lot of flexibility as far as how much they wanted to do and when.

    I'm not scheduling every moment of the weekend either. I plan to tell our guests where we will be on Saturday and Sunday after the wedding and they can choose whatever is most convenient and fun for them to do.

    I love the whole weekend wedding concept; I just agree that you should give your guests as many options to make it convenient and comfortable for them as possible and to let them know that you don't expect them to spend the entire time if they are not up to it. It's all about showing the love to everyone involved.

    3 agree
    • What's nice about this, too, is that you do NOT have to buy park tickets to "go to Disney World." There's a lot to do in the World that does not involve setting foot in the parks. Including eating some GREAT meals at some first class restaurants. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1 agrees
      • Yep, that was the idea. If people want to go to the parks, discounted tickets are available. If they have no interest, then there's shopping, restaurants, other entertainment, or just the pool and a fruity drink. Either way.. there's *something* they can do.. or not.

  6. I love the idea of a weekend wedding as well, at least as a guest! As a bride I would have hated it, but that is because I am the introverted one in the family lol. As a guest, as long as it wasn't "event-orientated" (aka you have to have lunch with everyone on Friday, then dinner, then dance, then breakfast Saturday morning, then ceremony, then dinner then dance then brunch Sunday) and more casual, I think it would be blast. Makes it more about the community and less about just the couple. I know for some couples it really is just about the couple (nothing wrong with that either), but I like the community-aspect of marriage too.

    That said, I may have come into the article biased because the pic of the bonfire reminded me of s'mores. MMMM smores!

  7. Ours was "sort of" a wedding weekend. We did a Friday night, and a lot of people came in Friday afternoon and then left first thing Saturday, but many more stayed the weekend. We went wine tasting with friends Saturday afternoon, and my uncle hosted a cookout later in the day for the two families (and any other guests who stuck around and wanted to come by). It was really nice, and there was no pressure to stay the weekend if you didn't want to.

  8. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to do a camping weekend wedding and it's so US! Unfortunately, it'd only be able half the people we truly love who would attempt to come to something like this. We're avid backpackers and campers and we have a backpacking family to so speak. It's the blood family who just wouldn't be up for it.

    I'll just drool over them here ๐Ÿ™‚ I think 4 hours with everyone is about all I could handle anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1 agrees
    • Do it anyway! The ones who aren't down just won't come camp. They will come to your ceremony anyway. At least that is what happened at my wedding. I made up a schedule of what we were generally doing, and people who were interested came with and stayed with us. Everyone else just came to the ceremony. It worked beautifully, and it was SUPER fun!!!

      1 agrees
  9. I am in the midst of planning a long wedding event. I attended my best friend's wedding weekend in Lake Tahoe and ever since then I knoew I wanted a wedding with friends and family around for more than just a day.
    We live in Iowa and are planning a wedding weekend (week for some) in PA. Some things have been pretty hard to plan and it is difficult not being there to see things or change things when places don't work out. BUT- as far as guests go…our families and some close friends are so excited to make the trip. Most are making a vacation out of it (carpooling in large groups) and my fiancee's sister is helping with the housing. My sister actually told me she was more excited about it than their family trip to Disneyland! Our families are coming for the week, we are involving them in much of the last minute details (which will be many with us not being there during the planning)and I think that makes it more intimate and personal.
    We will be planning hikes, and other excursions for our guests, greeting them with welome baskets, and having many nights around the fire (much like the photo). I am very excited and become even more excited when friends tell me how thrilled they are to be going and how much fun we will have…even though the planning is hard, the time with such important people in our lives is so worth it.
    We know some will not be able to make the trip and we are having a celebration in Iowa just for that reason. Plus- I get to wear my dress twice!

    1 agrees
  10. You know we're getting married on a Friday, and a weekend wedding would fit in great. I'd never thought about it before but having an extended party into Saturday afternoon = rad time!
    I'm really excited about bring this idea to beau!

  11. I agree with Ariel that you shouldn't go if it's prohibitively expensive or difficult, especially if it's just a friend getting married, but if it's a close friend or best friend, not going sends a really negative message. Sometimes you have to go and just bitch a little (not to the bride or groom!). I don't think that bitching about someone's wedding means you don't love the friend. It's not your wedding, and you may not be that excited about everything on their behalf, but I bet even the top commenter will find some moments of joy. It's a balance.

    6 agree
    • I was invited with a boyfriend to go to a wedding in Hawaii once, and the family was still making comments over a year later how it was "so disappointing" that the groom barely had any friends there. and even his very close friend (my bf) couldn't be bothered to come. So I think it IS about knowing your guests. This particular family just didn't understand how anyone could say no to their awesome wedding location. Maybe they actually felt guilty that only the bride had friends who attended? We figured that a Hawaii wedding was their way of keeping it small and would not mind, but we were wrong.

      1 agrees
  12. My FH and I met and fell in love in Portland, OR however I am from New York (with most of my family still residing on the East Coast) and he is from the Chicagoland area (with most of his family still in the Midwest). We have decided to get married where we fell in love rather than try to plan an event remotely. To accommodate our guests, roughly 75% of which will be flying in from afar, we are having our wedding at a hotel/brewery/restaurant/movie theater just a few blocks from where we live. We also plan on adding a list of our favorite haunts in Portland to our blog so our guests that are in town for a few days can see parts of our lives. I am also anticipating some guests will be camping in our backyard that weekend. I can't wait! We've gotten positive feedback from both of our families about planning it this way!

      • Yes! Kennedy School! Oddly enough our engagement photo shoot was done at Edgefield on Halloween ๐Ÿ™‚ So far the general opinion on the location of the wedding has been, "Oh! Fun!" Which is EXACTLY what we want!

  13. This is a great post! Our weekend wedding was phenomenal. I think the key is to allow your guests to have as much "freedom" as possible. We invited everyone to come and luckily our uncle owns a bed and breakfast complete with a 20 bed bunk house in addition to the main house. All of our guests had a grand time! I agree that in order to have a low stress weekend wedding event, you must abandon the idea of micromanaging. Freedom is the key!!! Thanks again for featuring us in this post <3

    1 agrees
  14. Weekend weddings might be a great chance to socialize with friends and family, but brides (even offbeat ones) should be aware that it's asking for a lot from their guests.

    I'm going to a weekend wedding and it is going to cost my boyfriend and me a couple thousand dollars to go. Since the location is remote and the actual wedding is happening on Sunday night, we need to take both Friday and Monday off work. On top of the costs for flights in the peak season and renting a car, we'll need to pay to stay at the guest ranch for 3 nights and eat all our meals at their restaurant.

    While I would love to spend lots of time with the bride and groom I really wish they would have made it possible for us to be a part of their wedding without asking so much of our very busy schedules. Those days I need to take off work to travel to the middle of nowhere are vacation hours I could have spent with family and friends over the holidays.

    Sorry for the venting, but I'm finding the whole "weekend wedding" idea terribly frustrating.

    18 agree
    • This is confusing to me — I've never been to a weekend wedding where you couldn't just show up for the ceremony/reception itself, same as any other wedding. Are you saying that as a guest, you're somehow required to be there for three days, or not come at all? To me, it sounds like your issue is with the location and Sunday night timing of the wedding — not the duration of it.

      That said, my rule of thumb with wedding invitations is that if it feels like it's prohibitively expensive/difficult for you to attend, DON'T GO. No one wants a frustrated guest at their wedding.

      Also, for your own privacy, I edited your comment to remove a identifying bits of info. Venting about a friend's wedding on a widely-read wedding planning blog could be quick way to lose friends. (Trust me when I say, it's happened before.)

      31 agree
      • Just because it's not required for people to stay the whole weekend doesn't mean it's easy to say no. I have friends who I wouldn't say no to, even though I would silently resent being asked to commit a whole weekend to their wedding. For some people, time isn't something they have much of to spare…and a wedding may not be how they want to spend their precious time.

        1 agrees
        • Well, I guess it's a matter of perspective. If the bride & groom don't resent you for not attending the entire weekend, then should you resent THEM for choosing something that makes them happy rather than something that's convenient for YOU? It's their wedding after all.

          I say let everyone make the choice that is best for them & harbor no resentments. If your time is as precious as you say, then you SHOULDN'T attend their wedding with your resentments.

          Better to wish them well & pass on the invite. If you can spare the time for dinner with the bride & groom later where everyone is relaxed & can enjoy each other's company, great.

          9 agree
        • @apf- that sounds like a really difficult situation to be in! Perhaps this is an opportunity to get into contact with all those people you feel you can't say no to but would resent- whether it's about their wedding, their dinner parties, or even their request to hang out. You can complete whatever's there lurking around that makes you feel like you'd harbor resentment… and then you can be fully self-expressed from then on. It sounds to me like your way of being with your friends has nothing to do with weddings and more to do with a lack of communicating your true feelings, no?

          1 agrees
    • That's more an issue with the style of the wedding than the straight fact that it's over a whole weekend though. You could equally have been invited to a weekend wedding where they'd hired a camp ground at no cost to guests and you were free to eat wherever you wanted.

      A lot of people are fond of critising themed or costume weddings because it "forces" guests to buy a costume. I like to counter by pointing out that I could pull together 2 or 3 pirate costumes from stuff I already own but a formal wedding would require buying an entire new (and typically expensive) outfit I might never find another oppertunity to wear.

      It's ultimately about knowing your guests and what they can afford/are willing to do.

      4 agree
    • We're doing a destination wedding so it's more of a 'Week Wedding' than a weekend. However I think that asking guests to travel at all is "a lot to ask" so our take is that whoever can come is welcome but we understand if people can't make it.

      I'm not sure how your friend feels but I agree with Ariel that if you can only make it for the day of, your friend should understand. And if not at all, then that's the risk we brides take by doing weddings out of town!

      2 agree
      • My fiance and I recently had to say "I'm sorry but we can't come" to his sister's destination wedding, which blew. She completely understood and didn't make us feel at all guilty, but we're sad we can't go.

        I do think that most destination wedding/weekend wedding brides are very conscious of what they are asking of their friends and family, and are understanding when people can't manage to come along.

        1 agrees
  15. I'm pretty jealous of couples who could have a successful weekend wedding. The first thing that came to mind when I read this was how much my fiancรƒยฉ and I would hate being stuck for an entire weekend with his crazy family, half of whom have started ridiculous drama with me (like his sister trying to break us up twice and his mother calling me a gold-digger and saying that I'm cheating on him).

    1 agrees
  16. My fiance and I just selected a location for our weekend campout wedding. We were fortunate enough to have multiple offers of locations from friends & have chosen a ranch in Southern California that has no electricity or potable water. (Most of our friends & family live in Northern California.) While planning this outing will be complex, we feel up to the challenge since we regularly face the same challenges when we organize our theme camp for Burning Man.

    We are doing everything we can to make our guests as comfortable as possible because we know they will have to travel to attend. Fortunately the ranch is near a town with hotels and we are planning to rent a van to shuttle non-camping guests back & forth to the ranch.

    We know we are asking a lot of our family and friends to travel to get to the location. Our philosophy is that we are very adventurous people and we want to share a new adventure with our family and friends.

    We plan to put a 'vision statement' on our wedding website & in our wedding invites to help our guests understand the spirit of this adventure.

    Although we are not advertising it, we are also considering a 'wedding potluck' @ our house after the event for those people who cannot travel to attend the wedding.

  17. We had a weekend wedding and I loved it. We got married in Bellingham, between Seattle and Vancouver. But our families are from Alaska and California. So everyone was going to have to get a hotel and fly in anyway. We made it into a weekend worth of festivities by inviting everyone from out of town to our rehearsal dinner. We had the budget to do either a fancy dinner for 40 or a more relaxed dinner for 80. We chose a locally owned pizza place that had vegan options and a great bar. We also made bags that we dropped off at everyone's hotels, that included local things like Washington cherries, almond roca, Tim's chips and bees wax candles made by local nuns, as well as a schedule of what we would be up to and other ideas of things to do, ie. our great farmers market. Also the day after my mom hosted a brunch, which was mostly just left over wedding cake and food. We got a chance to visit more and to open guests with friends. It was a really nice ending. It made it so we weren't so stressed out and rushed, we got a chance to really visit with our friends and families. Best weekend ever.

    1 agrees
  18. We can't WAIT for our 'weeklong wedding' on the beach. We're lucky to have two family cottages available to us & are renting a third so that our entire guest list of 30 or so will be able to join us for as much or as little of the week as they can manage. In lieu of gifts, we're also lucky that our parents are helping our 'less financially established' guests with travel expenses. Since none of our guests live within ten hours of our current home, a destination wedding was in the cards from the outset.

    Because we're small, we were able to talk to everyone before setting a date & finalizing plans. Because of feedback from our guests, we set our date for Memorial Day Weekend to ease the burden of asking for additional time off (that way folks should be able to come for the weekend at least). Our family & friends are scattered all over the country, & since we knew any location would require travel for at least 3/4 of them, we 'did the math' to figure out a place where the fewest folks would have to fly.

    We won't be scheduling the whole week, nor will we be providing meals for everyone the whole time. Instead, all the cottages are self-catering, so we'll leave some basic foodstuffs along with directions to local groceries/restaurants & access to the couple of cars we'll have at the 'handfasting compound.' We'll also give folks a list of 'things to do' (in addition, of course, to hanging out on the beach). We're catering a 'night before dinner' & a reception & making sure that breakfasty stuff is available for the 'morning of.'

    Our guests are a diverse lot, but most of them know each other already & get on well. We're big enough that there'll be room to get out of anyone starts to drive anyone else crazy, & small enough that we can afford to make the week happen.

    Less than six months to go!

  19. We're having a wedding weekend at a summer camp that I worked at in college. Just visted the venue this weekend and it's going to be awesome! It does mean that we'll have to serve more than just one meal, and that we'll spend more time with some of the crazies than we would like. But since we're having the wedding in our home state, it's not just a wedding but an opportunity to be with family. And having a whole weekend will be much more relaxing for me…I won't have to stress about asking out of town guests to spend all that money just for our wedding; it's also a mini-vacation for them, with cheaper accomidations and some meals paid for by us. Win win!

  20. Oh my oh my. We're having our weekend wedding at a summer camp, and we are now definitely designating someone the senior camp counselor. Awesome.

  21. We have so many friends coming in from out of state that a weekend wedding seems apt. No one is required to stay, but man oh man if they want to it's going to be a hell of a time. Many of them have never been to our city, either, so it's bound to be an adventurous time.

    I personally do NOT think it's appropriate to ask guests to a wedding and to pay their own way the entire time, especially for a weekend long event. I plan to budget that ish in (feeding and accomodating them, particularly; if they go off and do their own thing that's their prerogative).

    3 agree
  22. We are planning a camping wedding with our immediate family, we are planning to go up on Friday and come home on Sunday. We decide to keep it just to our parents and siblings because beyond that it gets a bit hard about where to draw the line. Our family has been pretty excited and seems to like the idea, almost all of us regularly camp and most have a trailer, for the few that don't they will be tent camping. The difficult part has been finding a group campground that has availability for our date, so we have decided if that doesn't work we will just go up a day early to secure the sites at one of our favorite campgrounds that doesn't offer reservations. The guests can either come up the day early with us or just come up Friday as planned. Since we consider the campground our venue, we are planning to pay for the sites for everyone, as well as the food. Since most of our family has not camped at this place before we are going to send out packets with our invites with things to do and toys, like their ATV's, fishing poles, boats or kayaks to enjoy some fun while we are up there.

  23. I'm glad to see this as we bumped up our wedding weekend date and I have a year less of planning time. Thank goodness I'm not the first! <3

  24. We're having our rewedding over Labor Day weekend. Our friends will be joining us from Friday until Monday since no one has school or work that day. Luckily we have a time-share so our friends and family will be staying at our resort and we don't have to worry about coordinating meals or too much togetherness as everyone will have their own kitchens and space to retreat to.

    I have ONE thing planned for each day if guests want something to do but pretty much I want them to enjoy their mini vacation.

  25. As introverted as I am, the idea of having a weekend wedding appeals to me. Probably because my wedding will (hopefully) be the last in-state event I host before moving out of state for grad school. Also it provides an awesome casual atmosphere where your usually separate communities can come together and bond, aw I'm getting gushy.

  26. Yay for weekend weddings. We are having a sort of weekend wedding if people want to stay. We will have rehearsal dinner on the friday night (wood fired pizzas, build it yourself), with the immediate fam and our team, then all get ready together in our big house on saturday. Which I imagine will consist of the boys (and some of the girls) running off and playing video games while the fancier ones take their time getting ready. Ceremony at 2ish (although Dad the photographer doesnt like that time for photos!), then drinks, games, food (big platters of nibbles), music, and dancing. Everyone can party until they pass out, and crash in their tents. Breaky with everyone the next day (everyone can bring some to share, so easy with breakfast). Then we "ride off into the sunset" and leave the parentals to clean up the mess. Simple, casual, and fun!

  27. Gosh, this site always has some form of relief. I've been checking this site out since before I was engaged. Now that it's happened, what I thought I wanted for the big day has totally changed. I've been stressing for the past couple of months about reception venues, trying to find something more laid back like a vacation rental. I'm trying for Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur, and WOW, expensive venues and the vacation rentals don't let you do receptions. Then after pretty much defeat for the past week, I came across this article. This makes so much more sense for us. We want family. We want celebration and gorgeous photos. We just don't want the price tag or the stress of planning a big party ourselves.

  28. I love this!
    My fiance and I really just want a wedding that is a big ole party/ski weekend with our favorite friends and family. Most of his relatives are traveling from Ireland so we wanted to make sure we would have more than one day to spend with the people who are coming from far and wide for our celebration.
    We just locked down our location in Jackson, NH and couldn't be happier. It's an inn at the base of a small ski resort and almost everyone will be able to stay on-site and save the worry of transportation to/from the event. They have space for our super casual pizza party "rehearsal dinner", an amazing spot for a short and sweet (hopefully) outdoor ceremony and an amazing barn/pub for the reception. Looking forward to ice skating, skiing, firepit s'mores and lots of whiskey

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