How many activities am I expected to plan for out-of-town guests?

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Are my guests expecting me to pick them up at the airport? (By: Bryan Minear)
My fiance and I are getting married in Los Angeles, where we live. But almost all of our wedding guests will be traveling from out of town. Lots of them have never been to LA before, so I'm going to provide them with guidebooks and other location info.

It's a family-only wedding, so it's a pretty small guest list. But with such a small, family-only turnout, how much do our guests expect to see us outside of the wedding day while they're in town?

I know you traditionally invite out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner, but I'm hoping to keep that immediate family-only since that's when our parents will be meeting for the first time.

Would a brunch the day after the wedding be enough? Or should I try to plan activities?bethyd

Okay y'all, whatchu got? What are you planning for your out of town guests? Or are there any out of town-ers who want to share some excellent activities that were planned for them?

Comments on How many activities am I expected to plan for out-of-town guests?

  1. We are having a “destination” wedding it’s on Vancouver Island so it’s a mini destination. We had planned in putting a welcome basket in the hotels for those out of towners with a list of things to do and see. We are also planning a family gathering/gift opening the day after and then a fishing trip/spa day that guests are welcome to join after that for anyone choosing to make it more of a holiday. I didn’t really think about other then that and those out of tone guests wanting to see us etc. thanks for reminding me!

  2. The last time I went to a “destination” wedding the bride and groom had a list of local activities on their website (a group of us decided to go river tube-ing the Sunday after the wedding). They also had a pre-wedding ceremony groomsmen hosted cocktail hour scheduled at the ceremony site, which I thought was a brilliant idea because 1- I got a drink 2- it ensured all of the random out-off-town friends-who-might-otherwise-be-late like me got there on time 3- it gave me a chance to hang out with the other out-of towners who were there.

    • Yeah we did a pre-ceremony cocktail hour too! Best decision ever! Everyone’s a little boozed up and extra emotional 😉 This needs to be a thing.

  3. We are getting married in Maine, and all of our guests are from out-of-town. We are doing it on Labor Day weekend to give them the option of making it into a nice long weekend for themselves. Like you, we are keeping it small (50 people), so I consider everyone pretty much “immediate” family/friends. We will invite everyone to a “rehearsal dinner” with lawn games, etc. the night before and then, the day after, we are doing a casual drop-in breakfast at a family member’s home. We have a section on our wedsite with “Things to Do” suggestions but other than that I don’t really feel obligated to do more.

    I think it’s totally optional whether to invite everyone to dinner the night before, but you are right that, if they are coming from out of town and it’s a small wedding anyway, it might make sense to invite them to the rehearsal dinner – plus it would give you a chance to spend a little time with everyone. Our parents have never met either so I totally get where you’re coming from, but I don’t mind having everyone at the dinner (and it might even make the meeting less awkward since it won’t just be them!). Maybe have your parents meet at a private “cocktail hour” before the rehearsal dinner so that they get their time to meet but then invite everyone to the dinner itself? That said, I think it’s totally fine to not invite everyone if that’s what you want or if there are budget restrictions.

    Bottom line: Your wedding is your thing, and it is not required to be choc-full of entertainment for out-of-town guests (…and really most people are perfectly capable of figuring out things to do on their own.) You should do whatever you feel is best for you!!

  4. If you want to be able to include out of town guests in some sort of rehearsal-dinner type thing, you can get creative in how you orchestrate your parents’ meeting. You could always do an early quiet dinner where your parents meet and then have a cocktail and pizza party afterward. Or maybe even do lunch with them before the rehearsal, because the rehearsal dinner will likely still include your bridal party, grandparents and other assorted people that will distract your parents from getting to know each other.

  5. I went to a wedding in St. Louis a couple weekends ago- my friend didn’t have any activities for out-of-town guests, but on her wedding site, she did put a list/links to ‘top things to do’ (and noted which were free!). It made selecting what to do while I was there very easy! So even if you don’t organize activities, per say, doing some of the background research and suggestions for your guests will go a long ways!

  6. We had a destination wedding of sorts, where 2/3+ of the guest list traveled for many moons to get to the (beautiful) middle of nowhere Wyoming. We felt obligated to have more than one 6-hour event, plus we wanted to hang out with all these awesome people more!

    So, we did a group hike Thursday afternoon plus dinner out that night, an extended-family brunch on Friday, a welcome BBQ party for the whole guest list Friday night, the main event Saturday, and a bagel breakfast Sunday morning. It was a BUSY week but so so great to spend all that time with our favorite people. And we kept things pretty DIY and casual, so it was relatively affordable.

    • Ooh, I would have never thought of a group hike — free and awesome! Great idea.

      • I coordinated a professional conference (in Colorado) that included a group hike as an option. Such a western-mountainous states thing to do. 🙂

        • As a Colorado bride I love this! Though I’d have to be kind to me sea-level flat-lander family/friends. 😉

    • I live in Tucson where there is GREAT hiking and I really want to organize a group hike as well. How did you arrange transportation to the hiking spot? I don’t want to make all our guests feel like in addition to hotel and airfare they also have to rent a car.

  7. We had a “destination” wedding in our old college town and dealt with this a few different ways:

    There was a section on the website with a map and a list of restaurants and other nearby activities. There was also a group email list that people could use to arrange transportation and outings among themselves.

    We rented a vacation home with our wedding party and suggested that others do the same. This gave us and our guests time with each other without everything having to be scheduled. Those who didn’t go that route ended up mostly in the same hotel and were able to plan activities with each other.

    We made our rehearsal dinner an open invite family picnic at a state park that lasted several hours. Guests were able to mingle and many of them made plans to go on excursions together after meeting at the picnic.

    My bridesmaids put together a tubing trip down the local river as my bachelorette; but the groom thought it sounded like so much fun we ended up inviting everybody.

    The important thing to remember is that these people are adults. Its up to them to decide how they want to make the most of their trip. Some people are genuinely happiest hanging out in their hotel rooms for the majority of the stay and shouldn’t feel pressured to attend too many activities. The more adventurous guests are used to making their own fun and will go out and explore whether you schedule something or not. If you want to do something as a group, then do it. Just don’t over-stimulate yourself with activities and become exhausted because you are worried about “hosting” every second that your guests are there.

  8. We have a majority of out of town guests, as well. My current plan is to get brochures for different things around the city and put them into the welcome bags at the hotel. This way, I don’t have to actually plan out every event and people can go off and do whatever they feel like. I’ll also be putting together a list of places we like to eat at and putting that in the bags as well. This way, when we’re doing family things, our other guest have things to do.

  9. As a bride I planned two extra events for our guests. As a guest who has attended two out-of-town weddings and will be attending another in a few months I absolutely do no expect anything other than to attend the wedding. If a couple decides to organize other activities, great! Otherwise, I’m perfectly content entertaining myself.

    • This. I absolutely expect that a bride and groom will be so busy with wedding related stuff that I expect nothing more than to attend the wedding.

      As our wedding is on an accommodation site where everyone will be staying the night, we’re doing a next morning brunch and then we’ll be heading away that afternoon. I’ll leave programmes with fun things to do in the area, but I’m sure people can entertain themselves 🙂

  10. I don’t think most of it falls on you two to schedule, as long as the door for opportunity is open. I’m linking to the local attractions (a couple of pretty cool parks, some wineries and breweries, a ski place with an areal obstacle course, a shooting range, spa, etc.) on the Wed Site and will probably see what people are interested in via Facebook Group closer to go time. But the idea that every minute of that weekend should be scheduled, I think, is a dangerous one to get sucked into.

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