The Weekend Wedding - Creative Ideas for Your Three-Day Celebration

Published: 19th September 2011
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One thing that surprises many of us after our wedding is how quickly the event goes. We plan and plan sometimes for months or years and then the day flies right by. Once the photos are taken and all the relatives have been squeezed, there's hardly time to take in the party, let alone enjoy it.

If you can stretch out the celebration, it will likely be well worth the extra money you spend.

Rather than celebrating a special day, many couples are now celebrating for the entire wedding weekend: perhaps starting with an informal gathering on Friday afternoon or evening, continuing with the Saturday wedding, and then wrapping up with a post-wedding brunch on Sunday.

These can be akin to family reunions and they can be great icebreakers, too. Your guests will have a chance to meet or get reacquainted in a more informal gathering the day before. And they'll be enjoying a mini-vacation of their own, which means a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone on your big day.

Here are some creative ideas for planning your own prolonged celebration:

* The first and most important rule: don't get stressed out. Don't let the Friday event be one more giant party you have to plan. Make this part of your wedding relatively informal. If you are having a formal wedding with a sit down dinner at the reception, you might want a simple informal picnic the night before. If kids aren't invited to the wedding, have a kid-friendly event the night before so everyone can catch up with the entire family.

* This ain't no bachelor party. There's a time and a place for bachelor and bachelorette parties, and, in some families, it's traditional to do these the night before the big day. Each time I've been invited to one of these weddings, though, someone ends up passing out or throwing up or getting in a screaming match in the moments leading up to your big day. This is a real buzzkill for everyone involved.

Reserve the night before your wedding for a more family-friendly event something that includes everyone, from the oldest guest to the youngest.

* Take everyone's needs into consideration. If a large part of your wedding party is elderly, don't plan a rugby tournament. If many people have small children, try to make it as family friendly as possible, or at least come up with some affordable child care options.

And keep costs in mind. If someone has to fly in to your wedding, make it worth their while by creating a weekend to remember, but don't add a lot of extra expense. Each of these other weekend activities should be very low in cost or free. And if they aren't, they should be paid for by the bride or groom or their families.

Weekend Wedding Activities

1. Play some games. Competitive sports game, such as flag football or softball, are popular activities for weekend weddings. Have fun with this so it doesn't get too competitive: members of the bridal party can wear tiaras, for example, and members of the groom's family wear their shirts backward. Don't be surprised if the sporting event turns into a wedding weekend ritual.

2. Plan a scavenger hunt. This Before the event, create a list of meaningful items and place all guests on two teams. Your list can include things such as "get a photo of the jewelry store where the groom brought the bride's ring." Or "take a photograph at the place where the bride and groom got engaged." Many wedding parties will divide the teams into the bride's side and the groom's side, but it can be more fun and more competitive, if you mix up the teams. Offer some silly prizes for the winning team.

3. Take a shopping excursion, with the goal being to fill a gift basket according to a particular theme. "Advice for the couple," for example. Each person adds an item that the couple might need in the years ahead.

4. Enjoy a group mani-pedi. All the women and men, if they are so inclined - head to a local salon to get their nails done. The guys might opt for a golf game or tennis match while the mani-pedis are happening.

5. Play at the beach. If you are near a beach for your wedding, plan a day beforehand with beach volleyball games and sandcastle building contests. In the evening, play "pass the shell." Take a large conch shell and pass it around, allowing each guests, in turn, to listen for some kind of advice for the couple. Once they hear this "advice" (which is, of course, really something they come up with themselves); then they share with the bride and groom. Someone can then take notes and write up the advice in a keepsake book for the couple.

6. Schedule a night of home movie viewing, with home movies from both the bride and groom's families. You can even make a game of this: mix up the movies and the guests will need to guess which family's videos they are watching. This can be harder than it looks.

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