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

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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.

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

  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.

    • 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 🙂

  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.

    • We’re doing pretty much the exact same thing. Our wedding’s on a Thursday, though. 🙂 And we’re just renting a house!

        • 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.

  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.

    • 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. 🙂

      • 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 🙂 I think 4 hours with everyone is about all I could handle anyway 😉

    • 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!!!

  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!

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