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Guide to the Ultimate Wedding Welcome Party

A very important part of your wedding planning is the wedding welcome party.

When you are hosting a destination wedding, a welcome party or cocktail is a nice way to entertain those that are making a whole trip to attend your nuptials. Since your loved ones are traveling so far, you might as well host more than one event.

As the name suggests, a welcome party is a prewedding event intended to kick off the wedding celebrations. It is a time to celebrate the upcoming wedding in a relaxed atmosphere and a great way to introduce guests to each other before the big day. It also allows you to introduce your chosen destination's culture and local cuisine.

Just to be clear, a wedding welcome party is not a rehearsal dinner. The main difference is that all guests are invited to a wedding welcome party, while the rehearsal dinner is typically just for family members and those participating in the ceremony proceedings.

Today many couples choose to host a welcome party as a way to replace a traditional rehearsal dinner, while others prefer to have it as an extended party after their rehearsal.

Typically, this party is more informal than the other wedding events. Couples want something more exciting and fun. Taking the form of unconventional cocktail parties, elaborate activities and informal cuisine options, the wedding welcome party became a fundamental element of a destination wedding.

Who pays for it?

Generally, it is the responsibility of the groom to organize and pay for the welcome dinner. This is because customarily the bride’s family organizes the wedding itself. While in the modern times most traditions have been abolished, for super-traditional couples, this is the general rule of thumb.

Today, it can be the couple themselves or either of the couple’s family. Sometimes it will even be a mix.

How to invite the guests?

The invites do not have to be as formal as your wedding invitations. There are no particular etiquettes to be followed. If you want to send a proper invite that is okay. If you want to call the guests or invite them online that is absolutely fine too.

You could add an insert card to your wedding invitations that outlines any additional events, like a welcome cocktail party or post-wedding brunch. Adding information about these celebrations to the wedding website as well, is a great way to ensure everyone knows what is going on beyond the actual wedding day celebrations. It is a good idea to include directions to the party and RSVP information.

Who to invite?

Destination wedding etiquette usually involves inviting everyone to the pre-wedding event.

When to have the welcome party?

The welcome party is intended to welcome everyone to your celebration, and generally takes place the day before the wedding. It may be held two days before the wedding when it is a destination wedding.

There is one main thing to consider when scheduling the welcome party—when will guests be getting into town? Take into account all the travel details, including hotel check-in and time zone changes, so you give some time for everyone to get settled and rest before the party.

In regards to timing, plan so that all guests don't have too late of an evening. After all, the main event is yet to come. Try to wrap the evening up no later than 10 p.m. to ensure that everyone gets enough rest before the big day.

Where to host the welcome party?

Proximity and convenience are the keys. In a destination wedding, ensure the dinner venue is close to the guests' hotel. They have already spent much time traveling for you; make sure you don't force them into traveling more.

If your wedding budget allows, provide transportation for them from their accommodations to the venue (and vice versa) so they don't have to worry about driving after a fun night.

How a welcome party should be organized?

For some couples, the welcome event have evolved into full-blown one complete with their own venue, décor and theme. But keep things as formal or informal as you like. The style of the welcome party could also complement the wedding, but it should not copy or overshadow it.

Many couples like to have some fun and plan a welcome party with a different vibe than the wedding reception. For example, Pizza parties and BBQs are popular and can be a flip side to a black-tie wedding. Or choosing unique venues such as a local winery, an art museum, a rooftop with magnificent views or even a party boat.

Just bear in mind that this event is in addition to what you are planning for the wedding reception so don't overdo it.

Additional tips

- The welcome party might be a good time to present the wedding favors as opposed to the day of the wedding

- It is also an ideal time to host any speeches and toasts that are not scheduled for the wedding reception.  In this casual setting, guests will often feel like sharing memories of the couple

- In addition to speeches, you can present a slideshow of your favorite memories. You could also opt for other entertainment like a caricature artist, or even a line dance lesson

- Keep it light in matter of an open bar or unlimited drinks. You don't want your guests indulging too heavily on their first night one and end up sick ahead of the main event

- Don’t forget to arrange for a photographer. Your guests will love the memories

These are some of the most common questions that arise in couple’s minds regarding their welcome party.

If you are having issues planning your party and your wedding make sure you contact Just Amore today and let us do our magic. We will guide you and manage each step of this event with executional excellence.