April 21, 2021

Here Come the Out of Town Guests

It seems that there are many weddings that take place between two people that have families that are some distance apart.  Some of this is caused by college, others by friends, still others by Internet Dating sites.  If this is the case with you, you need to stop and think about not only what kinds of party favors will be at the reception or who the best man will be, but what to do with the family that will come into town.

There’s a lot of preparation that goes into preparing for out of town guests when it comes to a wedding.  I was one of them!  I’d like to share with you some tips– do’s and don’ts if you were– when planning for these out of town guests.

Don’t Overplan

If your family is coming from a long distance, keep in mind that they will have to have some recuperation time.  They may also want to take in some of the local sites.  This means that you may have to go a little easy the first few days as they get accustom to their new surroundings.

Do Spend Time With Them

The odds are that there is one family that you are near and see all the time, and the other you hardly see.  It’s the nature of what happens as a relationship grows.  Find out what the family from out of town is planning on doing, and do some things with them.  If you have too much scheduled for the events leading up to the wedding, let them know and get them involved.

Remember that your family that is coming to visit has traveled a long way.  Chances are that you’ve spent a considerable amount of time with your new family, and will do the same after the wedding.  Your family will probably feel awkward around your new family, so you should go out of your way to make time to be with them.  This is the last time that you’ll be under the headship of your parents.  Make it special for them.  I’m not saying that you can’t do group events.  What I am saying is make sure that your out-of-town family has time with you (and your bride-to-be if you want) that isn’t also in the presence of your new family.

Don’t Cancel Events

We know how hard you’ve been working on your wedding.  We know that you have a schedule and things that you want to do with us and with the whole new family.  That being the case, we may or may not be expecting to have certain things happen according to your schedule.  If things change, keep us informed or have an alternative.  Things are chaotic as it is– and those of us from quite a distance are not in our own houses, we don’t know the area, and so it might take us a little longer than you natives!

Do Plan For Naps

If the family that is coming from a distance has young ones, the odds are that these young ones will need to take a nap.  The last thing that you need is to have your little ring bearer or flower girl cranky or misbehaving because they haven’t gotten the sleep required.

That goes for the grown-ups too. If it has been a long trip, if there has been a lot to do, or if (as usually happens) we’ve been spending long nights up with you talking, reminiscing, playing games, or just being there, we adults may also need to rest and recoup so that we are our best for your big day.  Besides– we all know that grandpa will fall asleep just about anywhere.

Don’t Hype Expectations

Make sure that everyone knows where they are staying, how much is planned, and what to expect.  You know the area.  You know the traffic.  It’s your friends and (new)family that they may be staying with.  This means that it is your responsibility to accurately reflect the situation that they will be coming into.

Keep in mind that each family will have special requirements.  They will desire certain things to be just so.  You can’t please everyone, but the fact that you tried to do your best will be remembered.

Do Relax

Last tip– this is supposed to be a joyous time.  It’s a time to remember, since you will be saying your vows for your entire lives to each other.  You will be embarking on a new adventure together, but after the wedding flies by and you come home from the honeymoon some things will change, some stay the same.  It’s an event, but keep it in scale.

Don’t Make Everyone Sit For the Photographer

There are certainly some photos that you’ll want to get.  There are some for the out of town family that they may never get again– like complete siblings, things of that nature.

Make sure to plan what photos you want in advance.  Get a list, and make sure that the groups that are important are there, but don’t keep those that are in very few in the dark.  Publish the list that you want to get with times that you think you need the people to be there.  They will be grateful that you took the time so that they didn’t have to sit around and wonder if their hair is still in the right place since the last time they looked in the mirror.


Keep these things in mind when you’re planning your wedding– especially when you have out of town guests.  They’re coming a long way to see or be a part in your special day.  They need to feel like they made the right choice, that they are still a part of your life.  The time you spend with them is invaluable.

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4 thoughts on “Here Come the Out of Town Guests

  1. Wow, have you taken to reading Bridal magazines? This is excellent advice, wish I’d had it way back when…

    Going along with what you wrote, the morning of my niece’s wedding…for which we’d traveled all night the night before (12 hr drive)…she carved out an hour to meet all the family for breakfast. I wouldn’t have had time for that on my wedding day, no way! It meant a lot to me, that amidst nerves/panic/hair appts and a reception hall that hadn’t been decorated yet…she made time for us. I’m so glad she did because the wedding was a whirl and of course we didn’t get any other time to chat about all the “fun” stuff.

  2. I agree with Mary, this is excellent advice. I know when we traveled to another state for my sister’s wedding, we were all so tired and all we wanted to do was rest. But, we arrived the day before and there was little time for that.

  3. Reading this makes me even more convicted I want to keep it simple when time comes. Less fancy stuff, more spending time with family.

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