Wedding Weekends: Is This Trend Here to Stay? – Brides

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Wedding weekends—which include extended, often three-day timelines packed with matrimonial celebrations beyond the ceremony and reception—are by no means new. A myriad of cultures across the globe throw multi-day pre- and post-nuptial soirées, and have been doing so for centuries. But in 2024, it feels like the norm across the board, for both local and destination events.

If you’ve attended a wedding recently, you might have received invitation cards for a few different gatherings, from the welcome party and the rehearsal dinner to the after-party and farewell brunch. While these events vary in formality—some are casual meet-and-greets at a local bar, while others involve sit-down meals that rival the reception—they seem to be part of most duo’s big-day timelines. So, if you’re planning your own wedding (or getting ready to attend a bunch this season), you may be wondering if this is normal (or even expected).

Meet the Expert

  • Melissa Williams is the founder and creative director of B Astonished Events, a full-service event and design company based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. 
  • Lisa Brooks is the founder of Mona Lisa Events, a boutique event planning company. 
  • Sunna Yassin is a co-founder of Bash Please, a full-service creative event production company with studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Ahead, we’ve asked several leading wedding planners to weigh in on the prevalence of wedding weekends, including their merit, so couples in the throes of planning (and budgeting) can decide if extending the timeline is really the best choice.

What Is a Wedding Weekend?

While, yes, the majority of weddings take place over a weekend, the concept of the wedding weekend is much more involved. “Wedding weekends entail multiple days of planned events, when you are surrounded by your closest friends and family that have come together to celebrate for the wedding,” says Melissa Williams of B Astonished Events. 

The concept of a wedding weekend is predicated on the idea of maximizing time together—and fostering a greater sense of love. “It signifies a special time carved out to really celebrate love and life via various celebratory events,” says Lisa Brooks of Mona Lisa Events. “It is an opportunity for the couple to be loved throughout the weekend by a wide range of people from different eras of their lives, who love and support their union.”

Ultimately, transforming a wedding into an event-filled weekend isn’t just for the couple’s benefit. “The wedding weekend is an opportunity to offer your guests a curated weekend filled with your favorite things, all while keeping them in mind,” says Brooks. Sunna Yassin, co-founder of Bash Please, agrees: “These additional events provide more opportunities for the couple and their guests to celebrate and spend time together in a more relaxed setting outside of the formal wedding ceremony and reception.”

Photo by KT Merry

How and Why Wedding Weekends Became Popular

This notion isn’t entirely new, but it’s definitely not a concept our parents experienced when they were on the wedding circuit. All our experts agree that the wedding weekend was born out of three different scenarios; two have been gradual, and one was abrupt. Yassin says the first shift is a societal one. “The switch happened when couples started getting married further along in their careers and age,” she says. With age typically comes greater income, which translates into being able to put more money towards a bigger, longer event (a.k.a., a wedding weekend). 

Another reason can be attributed to couples planning weddings in far-flung locales. “The rise of destination weddings began when couples chose to marry in a location away from their hometowns, which contributed to the popularity of wedding weekends,” says Yassin. “Since guests often travel long distances for destination weddings, couples typically plan multiple events over several days to make the most of everyone’s time together.”

Additionally, the pandemic altered the set-up of the typical wedding. “Wedding weekends have been around for a while. However, I noticed a rise of wedding weekends after the pandemic, when our couples started choosing destination weddings over stateside,” says Williams. This period also changed the way we approach time spent together. “During the pandemic, many couples went through multiple postponements and there was limited interaction with family and friends,” she continues. “Couples are now seeing how fast a wedding day goes by—and there is never enough time to really enjoy every moment in a six hour wedding day.”

Are Wedding Weekends a Lasting Trend?

Undoubtedly, the idea of the wedding weekend has become increasingly popular in recent years. “It’s certainly a trend couples are embracing,” says Yassin. However, just because it’s grown as a trend doesn’t mean it’s the new standard. “I wouldn’t say that it’s the new norm, as one size doesn’t fit all, and it’s a big financial commitment for both guests and couples alike,” says Brooks. 

This is great news for couples who might want to entirely opt out of the weekend model—and if there’s push-back from family, this can also be a good way to split costs. “In those cases, I’ve seen each partner’s respective family host a Friday welcome party, while the other family hosts the farewell brunch on Sunday. Luckily, everyone wins,” says Brooks. 

What does seem clear is that wedding weekends can and do happen anywhere; they aren’t just for destination weddings that require a plane ride, says Brooks. “Couples who host their wedding weekend on an estate property within two hours of their home (and provide on-site lodging for guests) or even locally in their hometown, when they have tons of out of town guests visiting, also tend to host three-day affairs,” she says.

Photo by Lilly Red

How Guests Feel About Wedding Weekends

Wedding weekends might not be the new standard, but they are prevalent—so it’s normal to wonder if guests expect a full slate of events. The answer seems to hinge on the wedding’s location. Williams believes that guests expect this timeline model for destination weddings—but not necessarily stateside ones. “When your guests are traveling eight-plus hours overseas to celebrate you, they want to spend time with you,” she says, noting that, even in this case, it’s not entirely mandatory. “I [just] believe it is a nice courtesy to do when hosting a destination wedding.”

It helps to consider what you might expect if you were an attendee at your own wedding. Ultimately, celebrating the sanctity of your union as a couple is the main draw for your loved ones. “Your guests should be excited by the opportunity to celebrate the couple’s special day, regardless of the format,” affirms Yassin. 

Photo by Lilly Red

Common Wedding-Weekend Parties

There is plenty of opportunity for customizing a wedding weekend, but most follow a familiar structure that promotes bonding and memory-making. This mainly includes a welcome event and a post-wedding wind-down the day after the ceremony. “A welcome party, for example, can be a great way for out-of-town guests to mingle and get to know each other before the main event,” says Yassin. The same goes for a day-after brunch, or even a pool day. “Everyone can gather again and reminisce about the celebration,” she says. 

You aren’t locked into these exact events, though; your timeline (and each event type) can and should be adapted to the environment and who you are as a couple. “Hosting a close-to-home event allows you to provide guests with a fun, unique experience of your city,” says Brooks. “Hosting a wedding weekend at a destination location offers a new and exciting experience for all, and that is where the magic happens.” Maybe you host a scavenger hunt in your hometown to introduce your crew to your go-to haunts—or perhaps you plan trail-ride on horseback to show your loved ones why you chose Montana as your wedding locale. As with anything related to your wedding, the choice is yours.

How to Budget for a Wedding Weekend 

Planning a wedding weekend takes time, consideration, and extra funds. But there are absolutely a few ways to stretch your budget to achieve your wedding weekend goals. Working with a planner, for starters, can help you realize your vision faster and more effectively. “Set a loose overall budget, then hire a planner and let them work on allocating these funds based on your priorities,” says Yassin. If a certain welcome party location or recovery activity day is important to you, Brooks recommends examining what you can’t sacrifice and what means the most to you. “If that calls for pushing your wedding date out a little further to save up, then by all means, do what works best for you,” she says. 

A planner can also help lend the right feel to each event of the weekend. “We usually work from the wedding day out to the other events, making sure that there is a nice balance, but that each event does not feel like a wedding in itself,” says Yassin. The true beauty of the wedding weekend? The events surrounding the wedding are intended to be more casual. “There’s already a wedding being hosted as the main event of the weekend,” adds Brooks. “Everything doesn’t have to be a huge production, and it will still be the greatest celebration ever, because love is surrounding you.”

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