6 Pre-Wedding Events That Will Get Your Guests To Show Up Early For Your Destination Wedding

Why do we want our guests to show up early? Well, as I discuss in my guide "7 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Planning a Destination Wedding" having your guests arrive a couple of days early is crucial to having a seamless, stress-free destination wedding. It's much better for your guests to have flights delayed and bags lost two days before your wedding than on the day of your dress rehearsal or even the wedding itself.

Getting a group of guests to follow these directions however, can prove to be a difficult task. That's why I advise you to plan an event at least a day (if not two days) before the wedding. My guidelines for this event are as follows:

  1. It should require little to no preparation/extra packing for your guests

  2. They need to be at the resort at a certain time to partake in the event

  3. It shouldn't add too much time and stress onto your plate as the bride/groom

So, let's dive into my top ideas for what these events can look like!

1. Sail Away for a Private Boat Party

I love this idea for multiple reasons. This is a great way to ensure your guests get there at a certain time or they will miss the boat, literally! Not to mention that boat parties are awesome and will give you another opportunity to treat your guests to a memorable experience and thank them for the money and time they are spending to celebrate your big day.

If you have finished all of your pre-rehearsal and wedding day preparations and have time to join your guests, great! Or, you can opt to use the time while your friends and family are occupied to get in some alone time with your future spouse or even some time to yourself to relax in the spa or by the pool. Your wedding, your rules!

2. Pool Party

This is a good one if you need to give your guests some flexibility to arrive at different times, but want to make it clear that there is an event for them to enjoy on that day. This will at least let them know that they are expected on a certain day, which will hopefully be enough to get them there without further nudging. You can work with your planner to reserve cabanas and arrange bottle service or whatever you would like to set up for your guests.

I would not use this option if you are having the event just one day before the wedding, because you don't want people arriving too close to the rehearsal dinner. In that case you would want to choose an event that has a hard start time that is earlier in the day.

3. Welcome Reception

You can reserve one of the event spaces at the resort to host a welcome reception. If you choose to do this, I would do it in the evening on the day before your rehearsal dinner. This is a good option if you have incentives from the resort that you want to take advantage of and want to host something for your guests but don't have the budget for an extra event.

Use this opportunity to greet your guests and express your gratitude for their attendance, while also providing a space for everyone to meet each other. If you have a small group that already knows each other, they'll have a space to meet up and say hello, and if you have a group that doesn't all know each other, they'll be able to meet the people they'll be hanging out with the next few days!

4. Leave the Hotel and Explore the Locale

Set up an excursion where your guests get to leave the resort and enjoy the beautiful destination you've brought them to. Regardless of what type of activity you choose, I would recommend a guided tour. The last thing you want to do is send your guests out on a hike and have them get lost or someone get injured.

Some ideas for excursions:

  1. A hike (good for an active group - not a great idea for differing levels of accessibility)

  2. A trip to a local market, museum, or any local attraction that your guests would like to see

  3. Zip lining, ATVs, or a biking tour (again, dependent on your guests, but good for groups seeking adventure)

5. Separate Men/Women

This is most fun for groups that are more familiar, not so much if there are lots of +1's that don't know the rest of the group. We want our guests having fun, not feeling uncomfortable and bitter that they are being forced to spend time alone with their girlfriend's friend's family. The activities will again depend on what type of group you have, but some ideas include a guys only fishing trip and a ladies only spa day, a ladies pool day and a guys beach party, guys snorkeling adventure and a ladies surf lesson.

6. Friendly Competition

This is my favorite idea for groups of guests that don't all know each other. It creates an opportunity in the very beginning of the trip to break the ice, which makes the rest of the time together more fun for everyone! This will take a bit more preparation on your part, but is something you can set up ahead of time.

A few ideas:

  1. Beach volleyball tournament

  2. Classic beer pong

  3. Beach olympics

  4. Trivia

  5. Charades

When setting up teams you can do brides side vs. grooms side, boys vs. girls, or make the teams completely random!

Keep in mind...

You know your guests best, so you'll know which activities they would most enjoy! Just remember the main purpose of this event: to get your guests to the resort with plenty of time before your wedding so you can avoid the stress of last minute travel interruptions. So, keep it fun and stress-free, and everyone wins!

For more ideas on how to make your destination wedding fun and memorable for both you and your guests, check out my blog post "5 Details That Make a Lasting Impression: Unique Destination Wedding Ideas"

If you are thinking about planning a destination wedding, download my guide "7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Destination Wedding"

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