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9 Ways to Be a Good Host for Your Destination Wedding Guests

Asking your nearest and dearest to travel to a destination wedding can be a big burden that cuts your guest list way down. Make it easier for your important guests to attend, and enjoy themselves, by following these tips:

1. Know your guests.

Before you settle on a location and hotel, think about the people you're inviting and whether they'll enjoy your chosen destination as much as you do. Family members who have barely ventured out of their hometown may not be comfortable in a place where no one speaks English; and a casual crowd may resent spending a lot for a stuffy five-star hotel.

2. Consider guests' finances.

Ask yourself whether your must-have guests can afford the cost of the flights, hotel and entertainment, especially with the weak dollar and soaring air fares. Instead of asking everyone to fly to an exotic locale, you may have just as much fun at a fabulous spot closer to home. You might even want to put aside some money from your budget to help a cash-strapped essential guest.

3. Give plenty of notice.

As soon as you choose a location and date, set up your website and send out save-the-dates. Your guests will be grateful for all the time possible to arrange vacation time and start budgeting for the trip. The bigger the outlay of time or money, the more advance notice you should give - up to a year in advance. This is even more important if your wedding falls during a major holiday or the resort's peak season, when booking transportation and accommodations is harder and more expensive.

4. Lock in discounts.

You should be able to secure group rates at your chosen hotel and may even be able to arrange for bargains on airfares if a large number of guests is coming from one destination.  Nearly all hotels will discount rates for a multiple-room booking -- contact the hotel's group sales coordinator to work out a deal. And of course your travel agent - that's us!- can be a big help with this. Put the discount details on your save-the-dates or wedding website.

5. Give guests plenty of destination information

Guests tend to do less research for a wedding trip than they would when planning a vacation on their own. Help them out by putting extra details about the destination in your save-the-date mailing, or on your website. Good info to include: local tourism board websites and contact details; recommended activities and restaurants; the wedding itinerary; event specifics and pricing on activities you aren't hosting; details on how to get around; a driving map and/or airport-transfer suggestions; a packing list; and expected weather conditions for that time of year.

6. Consider special needs and interests.

As you make your plans, try to picture the celebration from several different guests' viewpoints, looking for details that may need tweaking to make everyone comfortable and happy. For instance, you may need to make sure your outdoor ceremony is accessible to your grandfather who has trouble walking; or get recommendations for nearby nightclubs for the younger guests if your resort closes early and you know they'll want to party late. 

7. Get help with the hosting duties. 

No matter how much advance information you give, you should still expect some issues once your guests arrive. Since you'll be busy with your own last minute details, enlist help with the extra hosting duties.  Your onsite wedding consultant can do this, if you have one. Otherwise, ask a few of your most organized and responsible guests to serve as assistant hosts and divide the responsibilities among them so no one has to spend all their time looking out for others.

8. Give a warm welcome.

Make your guests feel welcome at once by arranging a special greeting when they arrive. If a large group of guests is flying in at the same time, arrange for a bus or minivan to pick them up at the airport, and have cold beverages on hand for the ride. Make sure the hotel front desk knows when to expect your guests, and request early check-in for those who need it. Deliver welcome baskets to your guests' rooms prior to their arrival so something is there to greet them.

9. Entertain your guests, but don't go overboard.

Of course you want to show off your locale, and destination centered group activities are a great way to do that. But leave your guests some downtime too. Avoid scheudle overload by planning just one or two group events per day. That'll leave your guests time to enjoy a little R&R or do a bit of exploring on their own.

And remember, we're always here to help you arrange the details of your destination wedding, so you and your guests can relax and enjoy.

Don Fuchs November 26, 2014