Hosting a wedding in a distant locale means that you and your destination wedding guests will have a lot to choose from in the activity department. While you want to make sure that your guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of your destination, you also want to make sure that they get enough time to relax since your wedding may double as a vacation for them. So how do you find the right balance of activity and R&R? Simply let the guests do the choosing.
All-Inclusive Activity Etiquette
If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, your guests may be looking forward to the built-in enjoyment of onsite activities at no extra cost to them. Don't book a ton of excursions or dinners off-site, especially since the ones at the resort are already paid for. It is important for wedding couples to realize that the cost of the hotel and the airfare may be enough to motivate guests to hightail it to the pool bar instead of the downtown club.
Keep in mind that an all-inclusive resort can actually play host to your guests all by itself. The activity board in these types of resorts are posted by the week. Call ahead to the resort and see what shows and games they have lined up for the week of your wedding. If any of them sound appealing, you can choose a few (don't pick more than three) that you think would fit in nicely with your family and friends' lifestyles.
Beach volleyball and a Michael Jackson tribute night? Choose activities on specific days at specific times and add those to your wedding itinerary. It is best to have these in guests' gift bags when they get to the room. Make sure your guests know which ones you plan to attend and that everything is completely elective. The biggest mistake to make is to force family and friends to do the limbo with you every day; just let things happen organically.
Traditional Resort Activity Etiquette
If activities are not included, it can be a bit trickier to work in extra events at a traditional resort. Each excursion will incur extra costs. However, if you are getting married in a place that is known for its coral reefs (Belize) or its rain-forest hiking (Costa Rica), you want to make sure those activities are taken advantage of. Choose one big day out and post prices and packages on your wedding website. Then guests can RSVP ahead of time and budget accordingly.
Plan a few meals together like a big meet-and-greet meal as well as a more intimate parents' dinner, but don't pack every night full of high-end fare. Be conscientious of the guests' checkbooks and plan accordingly. Be willing to pick up the rehearsal dinner tab as well as a few drinks around the resort. Also, don't be afraid to let your guests dine on their own, as well.
Take it Day by Day
If you are the type of bride or groom that will not sit idly by without an hour-by-hour schedule and clipboard in hand, why not compromise? Plan every day to be a certain theme. The first day after travel can be the spa day. Leave spa menus in guests' bags, and let them know what time to book their first service so you can all be together. Have the next day be a beach day. Plan for everyone to hang around the beach for volleyball, bocce ball, or sun-tanning. The following day can be a golf day or a shopping in town day.
Let your guests know which day is what, and be sure to reiterate that they are welcome to skip certain outings if they want to sleep in or lounge around instead of swinging a 9-iron. It's well-intentioned to have plans for your guests, but you are not running a cruise line; you are planning a wedding. Above all, choose the right balance of activities and relaxation for yourself. The bridal couple needs to relax as much as much as the guests do, so don't forget to plan a little wiggle room in your activity schedule.
Looking for places to stay during your travels? Check out our destination wedding packages and venues.