It's not uncommon for a bride and groom to live in one part of the country and get married in another region. For example, I know of an engaged couple who live in New York, but are planning to be married in Seattle later this year. They are in the midst of planning a destination wedding, relying heavily upon the assistance of a local wedding coordinator. Moreover, half of their guests will fly into Seattle from across the country.
How do you make out-of-town guests feel at home while coordinating and participating in one of the biggest days of your life? With a little forethought and careful consideration, it's not as hard as it sounds.
Contact several hotels in your local area, and ask about reserving blocks of hotel rooms for your guests, at special group rates. If your out-of-town guest list isn't too lengthy, you might even check with a couple of local bed and breakfast establishments to see what they have available. In addition, you might check with friends and/or relatives to see who might be able to accommodate a guest or two for a couple of days.
Have information handy about hotel room blocks or other accommodations well in advance of your wedding date for your guests. You might consider sending out-of-town guests a 'Save The Date' card a few months before the wedding. This enables them to plan ahead, and increases the likelihood of their being able to share in your celebration.
While invitations are traditionally mailed out six weeks before your wedding, you should mail invitations eight weeks in advance for out-of-town guests. For international guests, mail invitations ten weeks ahead of your wedding. If you are expecting elderly guests, make sure that they have transportation to and from the airport, ceremony, reception and any other wedding events they attend. You might want to assign this task to a family member, close friend, or member of your wedding party.
Placing a gift basket or special care package in their hotel room is a fantastic way to say thank you and welcome to out of towner. Include a schedule of wedding events, a list of local attractions and items which are uniquely your hometown. Match the specific items to the guest's tastes and interests as much as possible. Also, be sure to include a handwritten welcome note from you and your fiancee, thanking each guest for sharing in your special occasion.