These days, when travelling and living abroad is so much more accessible, chances are that at least some of the guests at your luxury UK wedding are going to be from overseas. While they’ll no doubt be delighted to receive an invitation, attending a wedding abroad is a major commitment of time and money, and one that often goes unacknowledged. It’s so important that those who travel from afar are well received! Here are my top tips for making their experience of attending your international wedding as easy and welcoming as possible.
Give them as much notice as possible
One of the most important things to do when you have international guests on your list is to let them know about the wedding a long time in advance. A year’s notice is ideal, but a minimum of at least six months is advisable. They will need to book flights (nobody wants to pay late premiums!), arrange leave from work and possibly childcare, and make travel plans. Save the Dates can be sent out anywhere from 9-12 months before the event, so as soon as you have a date secured for your international wedding, put in an order with your stationer. If you won’t be sending out Save the Dates (or they won’t be ready early enough), it’s perfectly acceptable to notify overseas guests of the date via email or phone first, so they can start making arrangements.
Details, details, details!
The more information you can give travelling guests, the better! Be clear about dates, places and timings, and update them as needed. Create a wedding day (or weekend) itinerary with a complete rundown of the events on and around the big day. You can either send this to guests, or place it on your wedding website (better yet, do both!). You may also want to include additional information like dress codes, optional events, and local highlights.
Make it easy for them
Guests may be travelling a very long way to be there with you, so any help you can give them will certainly be very much appreciated. Find out what transport is available from the airport or train stations, and research additional on-the-ground information like car hire options and taxi numbers. You could also try to arrange group lifts with other guests, especially for nervous travellers. Accommodation is another area where you can be of assistance. Recommend a few places for guests to stay (at different price points) that are near your ceremony and reception sites. You may also wish to enquire about block bookings at local hotels. Finally, some information about local restaurants and attractions if guests are planning to stay for a while will also be a great help.
Give welcome gifts
Although more common for American weddings, a welcome note or gift is a lovely touch. There’s nothing nicer than arriving jet-lagged and travel weary and finding a sweet surprise in your hotel room! Your international guests have travelled a long way to celebrate with you, so make them feel appreciated. A handwritten note and small gift will start celebrations off on the right foot!
Acknowledge their attendance
I grew up as an expat, travelling extensively throughout my childhood and again in my adult career, and it’s tiring! However, the stress of travel tends to wash away when the occasion is worthwhile. Most people understand that you’ll be busy on your wedding day and won’t expect to spend much time with you, but make sure to speak to each of them at the reception, even if it’s just for five minutes. Another easy way to make them feel appreciated is to thank them for making the trip in your speeches. Be sure to mention all of them by name, to make them feel extra special!