Extended weddings are a growing trend. These are a fantastic opportunity to enjoy spending time with your loved ones, as the actual wedding day is often filled with so many activities – from the photo shoot to the cake cutting – that you might not get enough time to spend with your guests.
Here are some ideas for events that you could add to the wedding day to create an extended wedding:
A rehearsal dinner
The rehearsal dinner is a fantastic opportunity for the key members of the wedding party to meet up, sometimes for the first time, and for the bride and groom to hand out thank you gifts to their wedding party.
The name comes from the fact that the rehearsal dinner traditionally comes after the wedding ceremony rehearsal, not because the couple thinks it is necessary to practise eating a dinner! Organising it on the evening before the big day means that members of the wedding party travelling from out of town are more likely to be able to attend it. On top of having the immediate family and the bridal party, you could think about inviting those that will hold a significant role on your wedding day such as your minister or priest and photographer.
Usually the groom’s parents host this event, but this is not necessary and depends more on who is footing the bill for the rest of the wedding. A good restaurant is traditionally the venue for a rehearsal dinner, but if you have a lot of guests a buffet dinner or barbecue at home could be more appropriate. During the dinner, short toasts by the bride and groom should take place, as well as by members of the wedding party.
A welcome party
Welcome parties work best when you have a number of guests coming from far away, or even from abroad, and you want to greet them as they arrive. Arrange your party one or two days before the special day itself depending when your guests will be flying in and don’t forget to ask your local guests to attend as well. If half the guests are discussing the lovely welcome party the night before, guests that didn’t attend will feel very left out.
You and your partner may host the party, or ask your parents to, depending on whether they also host a rehearsal dinner. It doesn’t matter how formal your wedding will be, a welcome party can be relaxed, fun or casual. A cocktail party is the kind of event you should be aiming for.
A goodbye brunch
A goodbye brunch can really finish off the wedding celebrations in style unless you are flying off on your honeymoon straightaway after the reception. You can organise the brunch at a parent’s house if it is nearby, or ask to hold it at the hotel where you or the majority of your guests are staying. Brunch can be far less formal that the ceremony and reception itself, and quite a few couples want to theme it to match their honeymoon location.
Don’t start brunch too early, you’ll want a lie-in yourselves and those that have been partying all night might not get up in time. Try to make sure it coincides with hotel check out times; you don’t want the guests having to wait for it to start when they would rather be getting on their journey back home.
Other ideas for extended weddings
Guests travelling from far away may well combine your wedding with a longer holiday, and you can help them make the most of their stay. Having a game of golf with guys, or a meeting up at a local spa with the ladies can be a fantastic way to socialise with your guests. Provide them with some information about the local area beforehand and offer to organise sightseeing tours or visits all the places of interest. Don’t think you must limit your planning to the wedding day itself; there are countless ways you could extend your wedding to ensure it is truly memorable for yourselves and all the guests.
With plenty of venues across the UK that offer exclusive hire for your special day where you can also take advantage of the venue and grounds, some places now offer the option for hiring the venue for a long weekend allowing you to extend your wedding celebrations with your close friends and family. You can make use of the venue’s facilities, relax before and after the wedding and best of all you get to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Weekend weddings are becoming more and more popular in the UK, as it gives people time to be able to unwind and enjoy the surroundings with those special people and also catch up with family and friends and the opportunity to meet new friends.
A day out
You can always arrange a day out with your wedding guests where you can share a special day with each other, this could be arranged a day before the wedding or the day after. It is an excellent opportunity to be able to get you and your guests together and spend some time together, whether that’s experiencing something new like quad biking or just day trip out on a boat with the bubbly flowing. With endless options, you will be sure to find something that will suit your varied guests.
It’s the night before the wedding and everyone is getting ready for that special day. You can take advantage of this and get the wedding started early by having a pre-wedding dinner, this could be very casual and just be a garden BBQ or you could arrange a meal at a local favourite restaurant, whatever you decided it’s just about being able to spend some special time with your family and close friends. It is a great way to start your wedding celebrations, just remember everyone does need to be up early for the wedding day so maybe try not to make it too much of a heavy night – that’s what the wedding evening is for.
Some couples are now taking pre-honeymoons as well as honeymoons. We all know planning a wedding can be stressful and time-consuming, it can be hard to just relax and take some time out together. A pre-honeymoon is perfect to be able to just step away for a couple of nights before the wedding and enjoy your time together and relax before the big day. Depending on where you’re having the wedding you could just go stay in the hotel a few nights before the wedding or if it’s a local wedding you’re having then maybe book yourself into a hotel that’s not too far away but enough that you cannot be hassled by anyone, after all it is a break for you both.
Joint Stag and Hen Do
So you have already had your separate Hen and Stag parties but you could always extend this and get together for a joint celebration. You could be that you do an activity together and add a bit of competition between to the two groups or you just arrange a BBQ and drinks. It is another good excuse to get together and enjoy each other company with a few drinks and plenty of laughs.
A lot of couples do not tend to go on their honeymoons straight after the wedding, it could be that funds haven’t allowed it so your honeymoon will be happening at a later date or that work commitments are getting in the way. A mini-moon is a FAB way of getting your break together as husband and wife straight after the wedding to just unwind after the stress of all the wedding planning and be able to just enjoy each other’s company. It does mean that you do have the option of being able to do this straight after the wedding so you can extend your wedding celebrations just that little bit further. There are plenty of places in the UK that are perfect for a mini-moon depending on what you require.
Extended wedding stay abroad
A destination wedding is what you have decided on for your wedding celebrations, more and more couples do choose to get married abroad and will include either part of their honeymoon or all their honeymoon into this. What is nice about a destination wedding is that your family and close friends come out for a few days to the location to spend a couple of days before and after the wedding with you, making it the perfect opportunity for a group holiday which is something that can be hard to arrange with everyone. As the couple, you get to enjoy some sunshine and relax prior to the wedding and also spend some quality time with those loved ones that have joined you to celebrate your special day. Once the wedding day is finished and your guests leave to head back home, it is then your opportunity to either move onto a new destination or area so you can enjoy some time together as husband and wife and start your honeymoon together.
Wedding reception after an abroad marriage
Having decided to get married abroad it does sometimes mean that a lot of people are unable to attend your special day, which is one of the downsides of destination weddings. Many couples will have limited numbers for their destination wedding and then will include in their wedding budget an evening reception back home so that all the people that were unable to attend can still share their special day. Depending on the couple you can do as much or little with this wedding reception, it could just be a party to get everyone together, or you can get another wedding cake, first dance, photos and go the whole hog so that people can feel like they have still been part of your special day. The one thing that is great with this wedding reception back home is that you get to wear your wedding dress again! And who doesn’t want to get all dressed up and looking like a princess again?
There are many options for extending your wedding celebrations further and it all comes down to budget, venue options and what type of wedding you’re having. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend some extra time with your loved ones and make your wedding celebrations last just that little bit longer.
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