Super September 2019

Welcome Event Ideas... Help!

ASMini914, on May 5, 2019 at 10:10 AM Posted in Parties and Events 0 12
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Hi all,

Looking for some help on ideas for a welcome event for our out of town guests... We will have ~125 people attending our wedding, and probably 100 of them will be traveling in from out of town, most of the in town guests are either in our bridal party, or a spouse of someone in our bridal party.

What we want is a small intimate rehearsal dinner with our parents, bridal party, and their dates/spouses. However, we also want to greet all of our out of town guests so that there is time to visit/say hi, and give them something to do the night before the wedding.

Looking for some ideas on exactly what we can do for a welcome event, that isn't inviting 100+ people to a rehearsal dinner! Right now we are considering having our actual rehearsal in the late afternoon (3pm), followed by a "happy hour" at a local restaurant/bar, followed by the rehearsal dinner with bridal party at a local restaurant.

Is it weird if we just host an hour or so of a happy hour (some apps, some drinks), and then leave guests to be on their own after that? Any other ideas on how this would work, or what did you do? Note: having people over for a BBQ is not something that we will do.


  • Jessica
    VIP September 2020
    Jessica ·
    One of my friends just had a DW at a resort in Mexico and all she did as a welcome was a happy hour type thing with apps and drinks the day before. I’m sure the wedding party and family did a rehearsal dinner that night, but the guests weren’t invited to that.

    I don’t think it’s your job to entertain people the whole time they are in town. If you feel compelled you could list local “things to do” on your wedding website. Near our venue there are distillery tours, hiking trails, scenic drives, an amusement park, etc.
  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Champion March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride Online ·
    An optional Welcome Happy Hour with drinks & heavy apps is a nice idea. Just keep the apps flowing in case guests arrive later due to their travel that day. 4-6 pm seems a bit short but would work. Otherwise, maybe moving the rehearsal up so the Welcome event could be 3-6 pm?

    Because we only had 15 guests at our DW, my family hosted a BBQ dinner at their rental house for everyone from 4-8 pm. Was really nice for guests to mix & mingle before our wedding night!
  • A
    Expert August 2019
    Ami ·
    We have a similar situation. We're going to have the intimate rehearsal a d rehearsal dinner and just let out of town guests know we'll be hanging out in the courtyard of the hotel starting around 8pm. Will have some drinks and play some games. Nothing formal, but a good way to see the out of town guests.
  • K
    Dedicated March 2020
    Kristie ·
    I'm in a similar situation. I've just listed some things to do around town on our wedding website.
  • Mandi
    Rockstar March 2020
    Mandi ·
    I was going to suggest a "cocktail hour", so it sounds like your happy hour idea is very similar.

    My only suggestion would be to rearrange the order.

    Maybe rehersal, rehersal dinner, then "happy hour"?

    5 PM rehersal
    6 PM rehersal dinner
    7 PM happy hour

    If you want to see most of the people, you might need more than an hour. 7pm isnt super late, and you could easily wrap up by 9?
  • ASMini914
    Super September 2019
    ASMini914 ·

    This is where I am struggling... You all have super great ideas, I was honestly hoping for a magical solution. We don't actually want this welcome event, what we want is to enjoy the rehearsal with the small intimate group that we've chosen for our bridal party. My FMIL is very adamant about the idea of this welcome event... but also won't help plan it (I even offered to give her a list of the local restaurants that could potentially do this).

    My FH and I basically aren't against seeing these out of town guests, but we both really wanted a small wedding that escalated into something much larger. We also don't want to be tied to staying out late, and we really want to be able to stay at the rehearsal dinner as long as possible. I don't think either of us have a desire to spend more than absolutely necessary at a welcome event... blah. This is the not fun part of wedding planning I guess.

    Super great ideas, thank you all for responding! I love bouncing ideas off of people!

  • S
    Expert October 2019
    Sara ·
    We have a lot of out of town guests too and knew we wanted to do something similar! We’re having a rehearsal lunch for immediate family and bridal party only (those who will need to be at the rehearsal) probably around 12-1pm at the restaurant my FH works at. Then going to the rehearsal around 4 (timeline is still being finalized lol). Then at the hotel where our room blocks are we’re having a welcome dinner for OOT guests, family, bridal party, and their dates. Super casual, just a buffet of popular local foods (pizza & wings), beer, and wine. We’re planning on starting it around 6 but possibly later and just having it be super open so people can come whenever they want. It’ll be a Friday night so I’m guessing some people might not get to the hotel until later.
  • MrsD
    Legend July 2019
    MrsD ·

    We are doing a rehearsal dinner that is smaller, then inviting all guests to the hotel bar after!

  • Katherine
    Expert July 2019
    Katherine ·

    If they are all staying at the same hotel, maybe something casual in the hotel lobby. Welcome bags with a list of things to do in the city would be another way to greet them without physically greeting them. I like the idea of all the guests mingling in the hotel bar. That's less planning to do on your part

  • S
    Dedicated September 2019
    Shannon ·

    We are having a similar situation. We are having the rehearsal in the early afternoon and then the rehearsal dinner early like 4-6p with just immediate family and bridal party.

    Then we are telling people that we are having a no host happy hour at a bar in the area from like 7-9. For us we can just tell people the couple will be at X bar and feel free to come by if you'd like. I also figured that is late enough that people traveling in will probably have arrived by then, but still lets us keep the rehearsal dinner smaller.

  • S
    Dedicated September 2019
    Shannon ·
    View Quoted Comment

    If you aren't excited about the happy hour idea then maybe just provide some small welcome bags with some local places for guests to get dinner that night on their own. Hopefully your FMIL comes around. It's you and your FH's day,e specially if she want's it but wont plan it.

  • ASMini914
    Super September 2019
    ASMini914 ·
    View Quoted Comment
    I like the hotel lobby idea, I have little desire in seeing all of these people 2 nights in a row, and FH and I really do not want to change the plan for the rehearsal dinner.

    I think ill propose pose a gathering at the hotel bar, or renting a room in the hotel near the bar for guests to go to if they want. I’m honestly confused about what FMIL is hoping to get out of this because it’s going to overlap the rehearsal dinner... also so frustrated that she won’t even help plan this side event she has determined is mandatory. She is retired, I work full time, have a side job teaching barre classes, and I’m planning the rest of the wedding with almost no help. 🙄

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