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Your wedding will fly by in the blink of an eye, so why not make an entire weekend of it? The best weddings tend to take place outside of just the ceremony and reception. While, yes, the vow exchange is the highlight of the weekend, adding welcome drinks or a post-wedding brunch can be really nice ways to acknowledge your guests’ time. Whether you’re having a destination wedding, or you just want to make sure people arrive to their hotels with a festive beverage, it’s possible to plan the ultimate wedding weekend on any budget.

As with all wedding planning, it’s helpful to remember the times that you’ve been a guest at friends’ weddings. What made your weekend special? What did you love most about the events or gestures that took place outside of the ceremony and reception? You might have appreciated that going to a brewery the day after a wedding allowed you some time to actually sit and chat with the bride and groom, or you may have loved the sweet gift bag you received upon arriving at your hotel. From start to finish, here’s how to plan a truly epic wedding weekend for you and your partner and for your guests.

1. Plan One Thing For Your Guests’ Arrival

While the days of inviting everyone to your rehearsal dinner are long gone, if you have a lot of guests coming in the night before your wedding, it’s nice to plan a little something for them. Whether that’s an official welcome drinks, or if you just have your hotel greet each guest with a glass of champagne, a pre-wedding gesture is a great way to get everyone in a festive mood. Low on budget? Suggest a local bar you can all meet up at after the rehearsal.

2. Have Something Waiting For The Guests In Their Rooms

You could organize a small gift bag full of snacks for each guest, because you know your hotel is a bit rural. Or, you leave a sunscreen with a welcome note in each room, because you’re getting married somewhere super sunny. The gift itself can be small, but leaving a little something for the guests staying in the hotels you reserved blocks at is incredibly sweet.

3. Offer An Activity For Your Guests

Let’s say you’re getting married in the evening on a Saturday night, but you’re getting married in Maine at your old summer camp, and guests are going to be hanging around all morning without much to do. Organize swimming or hike for them! If you’re having any kind of destination wedding, offering an opportunity for a group activity like a yoga class or even just lawn bocce is a nice way to allow guests to bond.

4. Plan An After Party

If you’re getting married in a city, choose a bar that all of your guests can meet up at afterwards. There’s no need to reserve space or pay for anyone’s drinks, but oftentimes guests are ready to continue the party long after the venue kicks you out. Is there a nearby dive bar? Even better. Everyone will be ready to relax and drink cheap beer after being dressed up all day.

5. Do Something The Day After The Wedding

You could host a traditional brunch, or you could plan something more involved, like a winery tour. No matter what you do, it’s just nice to give you and your guests an opportunity to chat outside of the wedding, and eventually, to say goodbye. Again, this can be as simple as offering a brewery for everyone to check out in town. It doesn’t have to be a giant cost to be special!

Written by: Kimmy Foskett