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I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)

So, we found a venue we love and with a price that is reasonable (YAY!) for the area we're having our wedding: SF bay area. It's going to be a vineyard wedding (not in Napa, but still beautiful). FH loves it. I love it. Mom loves it. Dog loves it. Awesome.

The minimum is 135, we can only afford 150 (maybe 180 if we cut back on flowers or worked with the venue to have less nice food/drinks). The problem is I'd say about 70% of the guest list is from my fiance's family and our friends in NYC. So, I don't feel comfortable over-inviting (obviously), but at the same time I know how difficult it is to travel 3000 miles. 

We're only inviting our best friends and close family (but FH has an enormous family and friend group). 

Here is my question: assuming you could afford the trip at all, what would your reservations be about traveling that far for a wedding? 

I want to be as accomodating as possible, so far this is what I have planned:
-I'm going to send out save the dates in January so folks have enough time to plan both financially and vacation days for the year (yano, if they want to, ha)
-discounted flights on 2 airlines (5% off, can book any class they want, from any airport to SFO)
-the wedding would be on a Sunday (Saturdays and Mondays are typically less expensive to travel on than Fridays and Sundays) 
-discounted rental cars (35% off)
-block of hotel rooms at a nice hotel with a pool/hot tub (2 queen beds or 1 king bed, restaurant in hotel, etc) for $79/night, which is very cheap here
-hotel is a couple blocks from the train so easy and cheap transport to/from airport
-we will provide a complimentary shuttle from the hotel to the venue and back for the wedding (going to include it on the RSVP card so we have a headcount beforehand)
-everyone will be given a +1 (and yes, I will find out the names of S/Os!)
-my wedding website will include a list of local activities, cab numbers, directions, etc.
-maybe a welcome celebration the afternoon/evening before at the hotel, just casual with pizza or something

Anything else you can think of that would make people feel more comfortable before I sign this contract? I want to put absolutely everything I can think of into my budget before I sign with this venue in case I can't afford what I need to in order to make my guests feel comfortable. A lot of our friends have done very little traveling on their own, so that's where my concern comes from. We're pretty much the first of our friends to get married so there's no previous experience to speak of. 

I know I can't control or guess how many people will attend, but I can at least try to make it a bit more inviting! Secretly I have this fear that no one will attend our wedding, but FH says I'm being crazy; he thinks everyone will come. 

Thanks all!! :)
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Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)

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    I don't travel often, so I don't know if that is a normal thing to just go to the opposite coast for the weekend. I figure they would have to take a couple days off work anyway, so I think the Sunday wedding would be okay for them. It might be more annoying to the in town people though.

    Beyond that I think you are going above and beyond for your guests, which is very nice.
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    I agree with Stage.  The Sunday part is a deal breaker for me unless it was a very close friend.

    What I care about most when traveling to a wedding that I would have to fly to is ease of transportation.  I don't like flying into a city then renting a car and driving forever away.  I much prefer public transportation and for it to be a short ride.  We purposefully had our AHR in Center City Philadelphia so those flying in could hop on a ten minute train to the hotel and be done. 

    One of my really good friends from college married about three hours from the closest airport.  People flew in and rented cars so traveling took all day due to the distances.  I love her and did the trip in a heartbeat, but for other people, I'd definitely think twice about going. 

    I like simple. 
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    edited August 2012
    If I was close enough to the B or G, I would gladly make a long weekend out of it.

    ETA: I think you have put a lot of thought into your guests needs, and its very nice of you.
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    The Sunday thing wouldn't bother me since we'd have to make a long weekend of it anyway. It might bother the local guests, though, as PP mentioned.

    I think you've covered quite a bit, honestly. The transportation from the airport to the hotel is good (does the hotel have an airport shuttle, just in case some people have a ton of bags and don't want to walk two blocks?) Having a shuttle from the hotel to the venue and back is pretty awesome.
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    @StageManager, if it were a Saturday wedding, you'd most likely have to take Friday off for the travel since it's a 6 hour flight, no? 

    ahhhitsshannyn, my in-town guests are just so excited the wedding is happening in CA that they're all willing to take the Monday off, ha. I was very touched. 


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    AdeleDazeemAdeleDazeem member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    edited August 2012
    To be fair, I had a knee-jerk reaction to the Sunday thing.

    However, I've flown across the country late on a Friday and returned late on a Sunday for a Saturday wedding.  My job demands change depending on what's going on so I like being able to determine for myself if I want to take the time off rather than it being a forced issue.
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    I think you're going above and beyond; though I agree with Stage that I'd be less likely to attend a Sunday wedding because of vacation time.  A Saturday wedding I can probably catch a flight Friday evening after work, and then fly home Sunday.  A Sunday wedding I'm either leaving by 3pm (to get to the airport and catch flight) or I have to take Monday off.

    You're looking for a 10% or less decline rate with 70% OOT guests; I think it's going to be very difficult.  Especially with all the +1s; it might make OOT guests more likely to attend, but a lot of the time single guests come alone, so non-existant +1s may eat up your 10% decline.  My advice is to make sure you have options with the venue to upgrade and meet your minimums; so at least you get something for your money like premium bar, extra apps, more dessert, etc.
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    Meegles4Meegles4 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment First Anniversary
    edited August 2012
    I agree with Stage (it's like we're mind-melding today). Sunday wedding is no deal for me. You're right people may end up taking off the same amount of time from work, but I dunno, I just feel like a Saturday wedding gives the appearance of more travel time/less hassle.

    I just skimmed the rest of your post, but here's my overall take. Invite what you can afford, and be prepared for declines to the point that you may be less than your minimum (and thus could just upgrade items to make the minimum or pay for more than what your guest list is.)

    For OOT weddings, I'll travel if it's family or a close friend. So, I'd guess most family will likely make the trip, but not all friends. It truly depends on finances. All of my OOT family came, but it was an easy flight or 12 hour drive. Many people drove. Driving from NYC to CA isn't really feasible IMO so it depends on if people can afford the flight.

    Your ideas sound good.

    Complimentary shuttle is nice. Also maybe welcome bags at the hotel with some snacks and listing of things to do in the area. I think a welcome dinner or post-wedding brunch is a nice touch. If public transportation is key to things, provide folks with a map of the transit system and maybe even some pre-paid tokens/cards for them to use it once they arrive. This could go in their welcome bags.

    ETA: A wedding website can be really helpful in these situations. You can put that on the STD, and then update it with travel info., area maps, hotel info., etc. as you confirm things. Family/friends can then use that to do advance research and planning and feel prepared.
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    I'm flying from MI to FL with FI for a friend's wedding and the only thing we're getting is a discounted hotel room!  I never knew you could do discounted air travel, rental cars and the rest - so I think you've really thought this through!

    I don't think that you need to have it on a Sunday to accomodate your guests though, but if you want to have it on a Sunday you can.  For the wedding we're flying to we're leaving Thursday and making it a long weekend like others have said.

    Good thinking with the early STD's also because maybe people will merge their yearly vacation (if they take one) with your wedding festivities :)
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    hoffsehoffse member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    edited August 2012
    OP I like everything except the Sunday part, also.  One thing to think about is the time change.  If guests leave on a Friday night, they gain 3 hours flying west.  When they fly back, however, they lose those three hours.  So a Saturday wedding means I wouldn't have to take vacation time (which for me is extremely valuable), whereas a Sunday wedding means I basically lose Monday because I'd be arriving back on the east coast WAY too late Sunday night to fly that day.

    EDIT: So if the wedding is on a Saturday, I don't have to take Friday off since I gain time.  If the wedding is on a Sunday I have to take time off because I lose time the direction I'm going, KWIM?
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    I think what you're doing sounds great, but I agree with others that I just don't care much for Sunday weddings regardless.  My trip out would really depend on how close I was to the person, time of year, if my dh could get the time off, etc.  Not really stuff you can control.
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    Thanks everyone!

    I should have mentioned that A) Saturday isn't an option at our venue, it's only Sunday, so that's set, but B) my FH's family is Jewish so they'd prefer we have it on a Sunday. At least that's what I've been told by them? :\

    Also, typically the last flight out of NYC is 6/7pm (IDK why), and you have to leave around 3pm from Manhattan to get to the airport in time, so you'd have to leave that early from work on Friday anyway. It was really annoying when I lived there and was trying to get home to CA! Ha.

    There isn't a free shuttle to/from hotel/airport, but the hotel will pick you up at the train station if you call ahead (it's like a 5-10 min walk, but that can suck with bags).
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_i-want-to-make-my-guests-feel-comfortable-also-im-panicking?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:f71cfd56-5256-445f-a380-8b773b4cffd5Post:ab0252a1-a1e3-43c9-9097-69c56f772cf6">Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)</a>:
    [QUOTE]@StageManage<strong>r, if it were a Saturday wedding, you'd most likely have to take Friday off for the travel since it's a 6 hour flight, no? </strong> @ ahhhitsshannyn , my in-town guests are just so excited the wedding is happening in CA that they're all willing to take the Monday off, ha. I was very touched. 
    Posted by emeejeeayen[/QUOTE]

    Depending on how close I am to that person, I would travel cross country for a Friday or Sunday wedding....however, I agree that I would be more inclined to make arrangements for a Sat wedding if I wasn't best friends or family with said wedding.  I know it's not the case for everyone, but at my work, I get half day Fridays (work 9 hrs the other 4 days), so taking off for long weekends is easy because I either only have to take 4 hrs of PTO, or I make up some of the time before.  Traveling back on Monday would mean a full day off for me though.  Again, I know a lot of employers aren't like that, but a lot of state employees are in a similar or 9-80 schedule which means they may not have to take any time off.  Just wanted to reply with that perspective.

    image
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_i-want-to-make-my-guests-feel-comfortable-also-im-panicking?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:f71cfd56-5256-445f-a380-8b773b4cffd5Post:7e9fb670-b86b-45ff-811e-e7c49f789c6d">Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm flying from MI to FL with FI for a friend's wedding and the only thing we're getting is a discounted hotel room!  I never knew you could do discounted air travel, rental cars and the rest - so I think you've really thought this through! I don't think that you need to have it on a Sunday to accomodate your guests though, but if you want to have it on a Sunday you can.  For the wedding we're flying to we're leaving Thursday and making it a long weekend like others have said. Good thinking with the early STD's also because maybe people will merge their yearly vacation (if they take one) with your wedding festivities :)
    Posted by Jinxed329[/QUOTE]


    Oh yeah, and how are you getting discounted airfare and car rental???!!!

    image
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    I think you have put a lot of thought into trying to make the wedding accommodating.  FWIW, I live on the east coast and if I was planning to travel cross country for a wedding, I would probably make a vacation out of the trip, so the wedding being on a sunday would make no difference to me.  Having flown to California fairly recently, it is not something I would do for just a few days, the flight is long and I wouldn't want to hop off a plane, go to a wedding and then get right back on a plane so I would probably just take a week off from work and have a nice vacation. 
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    Two years ago we flew to a wedding in California. H was in the wedding party, so in our case we left Thursday night after work and then flew home Sunday, the day after the wedding. We would have stayed longer but they married in the middle of the desert, 3.5 hours from LA, so we didn't think it would be worth it to try and get around California while there. I think if I was planning to make your wedding into my vacation for this year, then Sunday night would be fine, but I most likely, myself anyway, would have another trip planned and would not want to spend the vacation days.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_i-want-to-make-my-guests-feel-comfortable-also-im-panicking?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:f71cfd56-5256-445f-a380-8b773b4cffd5Post:ae7cf7b3-9ed8-4514-9f4a-1e87a0417834">Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking) : Oh yeah, and how are you getting discounted airfare and car rental???!!!
    Posted by lwoehlk[/QUOTE]

    <div>You just call/email them!</div><div>
    </div><div>I googled group rates, and Virgin America and American Airlines both do it via promo codes for weddings (rather than everyone having to book the exact same flight at the same time). And they each provide rental car deals through Avis, Budget, etc. It's only 5% but at least it's something! You just tell them your wedding date and anyone can travel within 14 days of that date from any airport (even international in the case of American Airlines) to the airport closest to your event! </div>
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    I know that it is more expensive to have a wedding in NYC, but if 70% of your guests are from there, why don't you get married in NYC??? I agree with PP that I would most likely not attend a Sunday wedding across the country. It will costs your guests about $1,000 per couple for flights & hotel. I personally would not spend that much $$ for a wedding. I'm not cheap by any means, but I just wouldn't spend that money on one weekend. 
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_i-want-to-make-my-guests-feel-comfortable-also-im-panicking?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:f71cfd56-5256-445f-a380-8b773b4cffd5Post:84d24594-afc1-420e-b02f-ce19cdf27ab1">Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)</a>:
    [QUOTE]I know that it is more expensive to have a wedding in NYC, but if 70% of your guests are from there, why don't you get married in NYC??? I agree with PP that I would most likely not attend a Sunday wedding across the country. It will costs your guests about $1,000 per couple for flights & hotel. I personally would not spend that much $$ for a wedding. I'm not cheap by any means, but I just wouldn't spend that money on one weekend. 
    Posted by spartybride3[/QUOTE]

    <div>In addition to the cost (we'd have less money for a wedding in NYC than CA since the amount my mom has graciously offered us would have to be spent on her hotel, airfare, etc, which is not the case in the reverse for CA), for medical reasons my dad is not able to get on a plane. We've gone over it as many ways as we can to see how to do it in NY, and it just wouldn't work. Plus my mom cries when I suggest it. So, it's a destination wedding of sorts for those in NY ;) So far our wedding party at least is very excited about coming to California, and about 25 of my FH's family have expressed stoked-ness. </div>
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    QueerFemmeQueerFemme member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited August 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_i-want-to-make-my-guests-feel-comfortable-also-im-panicking?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:f71cfd56-5256-445f-a380-8b773b4cffd5Post:776b5a69-b1ad-4877-a34e-70f453e4c5b2">Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)</a>:
    [QUOTE]Thanks everyone! I should have mentioned that A) Saturday isn't an option at our venue, it's only Sunday, so that's set, but B) my FH's family is Jewish so they'd prefer we have it on a Sunday. At least that's what I've been told by them? :\ Also, typically the last flight out of NYC is 6/7pm (IDK why), and you have to leave around 3pm from Manhattan to get to the airport in time, so you'd have to leave that early from work on Friday anyway. It was really annoying when I lived there and was trying to get home to CA! Ha. There isn't a free shuttle to/from hotel/airport, but the hotel will pick you up at the train station if you call ahead (it's like a 5-10 min walk, but that can suck with bags).
    Posted by emeejeeayen[/QUOTE]

    I think you really have gone above and beyond for making sure your guests are accomodated.  However, I have to agree on the Sunday wedding thing.   I know you said it can't be changed, and I think that's fine. I think you should just probably be prepared for a higher decline rate than you would have had if it were Saturday.

    If the wedding were Saturday, I could leave work an hour or two ahead of time, take a late flight.  If it were Sunday, I"d lose an entire day if work.  Unless you were very close family or a best friend, I would probably decline and just send a gift.

    I only mention this, because it sounds like your invite max/venue minimum lists are pretty close.  Have you talked to the venue about other options in the event you only invite 150 and less than the 135 minimum attend?   Can they give you upgraded appetizers or a bar credit if you don't meet the minimum?

    EDIT: because I had the numbers wrong.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_i-want-to-make-my-guests-feel-comfortable-also-im-panicking?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:f71cfd56-5256-445f-a380-8b773b4cffd5Post:d0fb94bc-1d1e-4be6-8072-2f3735735dbe">Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking) : I think you really have gone above and beyond for making sure your guests are accomodated.  However, I have to agree on the Sunday wedding thing.   I know you said it can't be changed, and I think that's fine. I think you should just probably be prepared for a higher decline rate than you would have had if it were Saturday. If the wedding were Saturday, I could leave work an hour or two ahead of time, take a late flight.  If it were Sunday, I"d lose an entire day if work.  Unless you were very close family or a best friend, I would probably decline and just send a gift. I only mention this, because it sounds like your invite max/venue minimum lists are pretty close.  Have you talked to the venue about other options in the event you only invite 150 and less than the 135 minimum attend?   Can they give you upgraded appetizers or a bar credit if you don't meet the minimum? EDIT: because I had the numbers wrong.
    Posted by cmgilpin[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>Yeah, we can upgrade. My worry is more that the space will feel empty, but there are things we could do about that. </div><div>
    </div><div>Since I didn't specify how I'd feel about things if this weren't my wedding, I'll throw it out there, ha. I would probably either plan a vacation out of it (if I could afford it) and stay for a week OR I would probably decline entirely. I hate flying back to back if I can avoid it. So here's to hoping folks want to vaca in San Francisco! Ha. 

    </div>
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_i-want-to-make-my-guests-feel-comfortable-also-im-panicking?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:f71cfd56-5256-445f-a380-8b773b4cffd5Post:5ef4ec69-1e32-4ca4-a0b2-a6c9af82809c">Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking)</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: I want to make my guests feel comfortable (also I'm panicking) : Yeah, we can upgrade. My worry is more that the space will feel empty, but there are things we could do about that.  Since I didn't specify how I'd feel about things if this weren't my wedding, I'll throw it out there, ha. I would probably either plan a vacation out of it (if I could afford it) and stay for a week OR I would probably decline entirely. I hate flying back to back if I can avoid it. <strong>So here's to hoping folks want to vaca in San Francisco</strong>! Ha. 
    Posted by emeejeeayen[/QUOTE]

    well, I live in SF (actually I work in SF, but live in the east bay), so I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to vaca here !!   But, I also know that people have a limited amount of vacation time... and they have to visit relatives, do a family summer trip, etc. etc and there are only so many places they can go with limited vacation time and disposable income.  

    My original opinion still holds though... you'd have to be VERY close to me to take time off work, spend the money, or I'd have to have an amazing desire to visit said city.    I think as long as you are emotionally prepared for a higher decline rate, and have plans on how to meet your minimum and make the space feel how you want it to, it is fine.
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    I had a Sunday wedding with a predominantly OOT guest list. We did not have a large percentage of the turn out. I think about 65%. That said, I wouldn't count on that low of a turn out, but... you probably won't get 100%, either. We did not hit our minimum, so we got another hors d'oeuvre and free vendor meals.

    We offered "perks" like inviting all OOT guests to the RD, providing a full dinner reception with full bar, providing a shuttle from the hotel to the wedding so people wouldn't have to rent cars, and having a light breakfast the day after. BUT, IMO, that's not going to encourage someone to make the trip who is thinking about not coming. Those are more like little thank-yous and ways to make life easier for people who do come.

    One of our GMs attended out wedding without his wife and kids. And he tied it into a business trip to get most of his expenses paid for. My H and I just attended a wedding a few months ago in Michigan, and honestly, if money was tight, I might have also made the decision to send him (he was a GM) and stay home.
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