Have “wedding weekends” replaced traditional weddings? Not exactly, but this trend is definitely on the rise.
Wedding weekends are one of the better ideas to come out of COVID. When big celebrations got nixed due to quarantine restrictions, people turned to micro-weddings, assembling their nearest and dearest in casual gatherings and ultra-luxe rented settings to celebrate their nuptials. Some couples, realizing how much further their wedding budget would go with fewer guests, seized on the flexibility of smaller groups, and started planning “wedding weekends”—almost like mini elopements for them and their guests.
If the wedding weekend appeals to you, here’s what you need to consider to make your weekend away an unparalleled success.
1. Pick a location that sets the right mood.
Photo Credits (left to right, top to bottom): Image 1 & 2 Alexis Chanel Photography, 3 Madison Delaney, 6 Jenny Shipley
In Minnesota, we have no shortage of beautiful places to spend a weekend. Whether you want a Northwoods Lodge with nearby amenities a la Ely or Grand Marais, a city-break in Minneapolis or St. Paul, or a lakeside wedding (from Minnetonka to Superior…and any of the gorgeous lakes in between!), think about what kind of atmosphere you want your wedding to have, and build your weekend from there.
If budget allows, you can also plan a bigger getaway. Mountains, beaches, deserts, or even foreign destinations—like a Costa Rican rainforest, or a European-inspired gathering in Montreal, are nearby enough to have an amazing weekend without the threat of severe jet lag.
2. Plan a welcome party.
Once you’ve picked the place, set aside a decent window of time for your guests to arrive, and have a casual welcome party waiting for them. This gives everyone a chance to meet each other and sets the tone for the weekend. It's also a nice opportunity to give your guests their party bags and weekend itineraries.
3. Provide a Party Bag.
Give each guest a party bag replete with things they’ll need the weekend. Northwoods? Include bug spray.
A lake? SPF.
Etsy makes it easy to get customized bottles and labels so even necessities can feel special and festive.
Make sure to include plenty of fun items too.
Snacks for their rooms, a bottle of bubbly, a small native plant to take home, pool floaties, flip flops, or even a local bird/wildlife identification book to make the most of a weekend outdoors are all cute, creative ways to ensure the weekend is memorable and just a little different.
The goal of the party bag is to set the mood, help people unwind into a vacation mindset, make sure necessities that could be forgotten are provided, and set the tone for what to expect in the weekend ahead. Use your bag to celebrate your wedding and the best of what your destination has to offer.
4. Make an Itinerary.
Offer an itinerary for the activities you expect everyone to come to. That way there’s no confusion about times or places for the wedding-related events. Your itinerary will likely include:
your welcome party (arrival day),
a cocktail hour the night before your wedding (day one),
the wedding day (day two),
and a brunch the morning your guests are set to depart (day three).
This kind of schedule gives people ample opportunities for a daytime excursion on day one (and another on the arrival day or brunch day if they come early or stay late), and it even gives them the chance to explore their own culinary interests for dinners on non-ceremony days. They’ll appreciate the time to unwind, and you’ll appreciate the break on your pocketbook.
5. Give guests (some) private time.
It’s important not to over schedule the weekend. During downtime, provide a list of local points of interest for them to explore if they want to.
You can certainly include optional activities, like a local cooking class, wine tasting, or tour, but don’t insist on the whole group being together the whole time.
Giving guests their own space means you and your fiancé will have some space, too, and that’s important. Unlike traditional weddings, where brides often report feeling the day was over before they knew it and that they had little-to-no time with their spouse, a wedding weekend offers hours enough for you and your spouse to enjoy your celebration—make sure you make the most of them!