Brides and grooms, I’ve been listening to all of your questions and concerns about having a New Orleans destination wedding, I took some of the more frequently asked and have the answers you’ve been looking for! There were a lot of great questions…too many, in fact, to answer in just one blog, so I had to split this one up.
When should we send out save the dates and invitations for our New Orleans destination wedding?
Traditionally, you’d want to send your save the dates out 4-6 months prior to your wedding day, but when planning a destination wedding you’ll want to send them out earlier, 7-8 months prior. Remember that a lot of your guests will be coming from all over the country (and possibly world) to New Orleans for your big day, so err on the side of caution and give them ample time to make travel arrangements, book hotel rooms and schedule time off from work. Flights and hotel rooms book up fast, so you don’t want to leave your guests scrambling trying to make accommodations. Invitations should go out about 3 months prior, and I like to suggest sending a “pre-departure” letter to your out of town guests 2 weeks out that includes packing tips or any other reminders for them. For example, if you planned an all-white rehearsal dinner, this would be the perfect time to send a little “tickler” reminding them about that.
How far in advance should I plan my destination wedding?
Since it is a destination wedding, you’ll want to give you and your guests plenty of time to make arrangements for your wedding weekend. Ideally, anywhere from 9-15 months out is a good amount of time to secure the best travel rates & hotel room blocks and to book your venue & band. Those 4 things; flight, hotel, venue and band, are the VERY FIRST components you’ll want to nail down when planning your New Orleans destination wedding. Flights and hotels get booked up fast, especially if there is something else going on in New Orleans that weekend, so make sure to get room blocks at hotels and tell your guests to secure a flight ASAP. Down here in New Orleans, there is always a party going on, which is why it’s so important to book your venue and band right away. Although we have over 200 venues, you’ll want to get started early on contracting so nobody else gets a jump on your venue!
How can I assure my guests can afford to come to New Orleans?
There is no way to guarantee that all of your guests can come, but the best thing to do is to plan in advance. I cannot reiterate that enough! That provides your guests plenty of time to budget and make any necessary work and travel arrangements. There are a few things you can do here and there to help keep your guests costs down: register items at various price points, consider ‘no gifts’ on your wedding invitation, or let your bridesmaids and groomsmen wear a dress or suit/tux that they already own (as long as it coincides with your color scheme). Luckily for you, you chose a great city to have your wedding in! Not only is New Orleans beautiful and full of history and charm, but it is one of the most popular cities to visit in the US. In my past experience, your guests will do everything they can to come to your New Orleans destination wedding – nobody wants to miss out on the fun down here!
We’re worried nobody will come. What percentage of guests actually make the trip?
Again, there is no way to answer this accurately because it is relative to each bride & groom and their guest list. Here’s the advice I can offer; if your guest list is made up of mainly friends and family living outside of the United States, you can expect your percentage to be a little lower than normal. If your guest list is comprised of friends and family who are within driving distance to New Orleans, then you can expect to have a higher percentage of guests replying “yes” to your invite. This is why it’s hard to assign a number to it. You, the bride and groom, know your guests a lot better than we do. So with our guidance and your knowledge, we’d be able to figure out a percentage pretty darn close to your attending number.