Make the Party Last: Tips for a Weekend-Long Wedding
One of the trends I’m seeing more and more of this year is the extension of a wedding celebration from a day to remember into an unforgettable weekend-long party. From a planning perspective, this obviously comes with a lot more in the way of complexities and logistics to think about, but it’s a trend that I’m 100% on board with.
Not only does making your wedding a weekend affair give you more time with your friends and loved ones – some of whom you probably don’t get to see very often – but it gives you so many more opportunities to blow your guests away with creative, thoughtful and fun touches that reflect you and your partner.
Planning a weekend wedding takes an awful lot of thought, but here are some of my top tips and things to think about to help get you started.
Your venue choice is the most important element when planning any sort of wedding, but for a weekend wedding it becomes even more crucial to get it right. You want to look for something that offers:
Flexibility: a team that understands you and your desire to do your day your way.
Versatility: a variety of spaces that you can transform into different ‘zones’ during the course of the weekend (more on this later)
Comfort: ideally your chosen venue should have enough accommodation on site to put up at least your close family and bridal party, if not more, to allow for the party to flow better and not be constrained by curfews and the need for taxis and many different hotel bookings.
Exclusivity: Safety in the knowledge that you won’t have to share the venue with anyone else across the weekend is a must.
You can read about some of my favourite venues at the moment in this post, which more than meet the above criteria, and would make a fabulous backdrop for your party-of-a-lifetime.
The key thing when planning a weekend wedding is for the party to be well mapped out. You want an event that’s multi dimensional, with a real sense of pace, so that your guests aren’t overwhelmed, over-stimulated and exhausted by lunchtime on Saturday!
Picture the weekend like a hill. Your ceremony, wedding breakfast and ensuing after party are at the top of the hill, on the Saturday. It’s then about creatively building up to that peak with the events you plan for the Friday night/Saturday morning, and relaxing and winding down after it on the Sunday, bringing you safely to the bottom of the hill without too much of a headache!
Keep this pace in your mind as you think about every aspect of your weekend – from the food to the music and the other entertainment.
For example, if you’re planning a live band to play you into your first dance as husband and wife and get the party jumping on the Saturday evening, consider an acoustic soloist for the Friday to build your ambience and set the tone. They could even play a set involving some relaxed, acoustic versions of the songs on your party playlist.
Your wedding breakfast (regardless of whether you’ve gone for traditional banquet or funky street food style catering – see my post on some of the coolest alternative options out there here) will be the main foodie event. So, think about how you can build up to it on the Friday, and come down from it on the Sunday. Creative canapés and cocktails on the lawns on the Friday evening, followed by a relaxed brunch in one of the event spaces on the Sunday to send your guests off in style is a tried-and-tested way to tackle this, and to keep everyone well fed at all times.
GET IN THE ZONE
As well as the pace of your wedding weekend, you need to consider the spacing. Try and arrange your venue so there are areas for different moods during Saturday’s main event. Remember that not everyone is going to want to hit the dancefloor hard, so dedicate certain rooms and spaces in your venue for people to relax and chill out. It might be an elegant drawing-room space with comfy sofas and delightful piano music, or a cosy outdoor firepit with blankets and marshmallows to toast. However you tackle it, make sure these different zones are present to make conversation possible as well as madcap dancefloor moves!
Be mindful of the pace again with your spacing - keep Saturday in your head as the peak, and try not to use too many of the spaces planned for your main reception for your Friday evening event. You want to keep that big reveal for the main event if the size of your venue allows for it.
A NOTE ON STYLE
I’m not talking your bridal style here (although a range of stellar outfits is another of the perks of a weekend-long celebration), but rather the overall style of your wedding, and how you make it felt across all three days. You want to make sure that elements of your design make it into all the events you have planned, and consistency is key in order to create that effortless, luxury feel for your guests.
Talk with your stationery designer and florist about ways to incorporate your wedding style into each separate part of the weekend. It might be a monogram or a particular colour way on cocktail napkins, or hangover kits for your guests. It might be the trailing foliage from your bouquet mirrored in some smaller arrangements for the Friday evening; or taper candles dotted around the windowsills and tables in different colours for each day. Keep the idea of consistency and cohesiveness in mind as you’re thinking about each of the days to elevate your wedding and give it that subtle wow for your guests.
While we’re on the subject of flowers, a small sidebar - make sure to think about the practical side of your florals. You want to avoid wilting at all costs, so discuss with your florist whether you’ll have refreshed arrangements for each day, or whether the varieties you select will be based partially on their hardiness, and lasting power.
While a weekend wedding takes a lot of thought and many hours of organisation, the rewards that you reap are totally worth it. You’ll have so much time with your guests, many more opportunities for laughing-until-your-stomach-hurts fun, and a host of memories to last a lifetime.