1. Create a Welcome Video
Most likely you won't be able to greet all of your out-of-town guests when they arrive, so consider arranging a virtual welcome. Talk to your videographer about creating a brief video of the two of you welcoming them to your wedding location, and provide tips for things to do in the area along with what they can expect for the rest of the weekend (or simply create your own with a digital video camera!).
Another easy way to impress? Give each guest a welcome bag. Fill an inexpensive basket or canvas tote with bottles of water, a bottle of wine or locally brewed beer, something salty, something sweet, and a piece of fruit. Don't forget to include a welcome letter (or video) as well as a detailed itinerary for where the guest needs to be and when. Leave the whole thing with the hotel concierge for the guests to pick up when they check in. And be sure to provide them with maps and lists of local restaurants, museums, and other attractions in case they want to explore on their own.
3. Keep Them Entertained -- Not Overwhelmed
You don't want to stress your guests out with too many activities, but a few entertainment options before the wedding will really show them how much thought you put into their visit. Suggest group activities like area hikes or tours for your guests to mingle and get to know each other before the main event. Lay out planned weekend activities for guests in a timeline so that everyone is in-the-know.
4. Ditch the Boring Ceremony Aisle
It's probably the one detail of wedding planning you forgot about, but it's also one of the simplest to take to the next level. A creative DIY runner, rustic pew arrangements in Mason jars, or even a quirky patterned rug can all dress up a plain aisle -- and make a major impact on your guests.
5. Make Inventive Escort Cards
The escort card display is the first thing your guests see when they walk into your reception -- so make it good. Have your calligrapher write guests' names on pretty vintage mirrors, print names on horse show ribbons, stick the cards in cupcakes, or attach each card to a tiny can of champagne with a note that reads, "Do not open until the wedding toast."
6. Add Music to the Transitions
Hire a bagpiper, a drum line, a gong player, or even a strolling guitar player to lead guests from one space to the next. If you're not set on an instrument, localize it: For a tropical setting, hire someone to blow a conch shell, or in the mountains, hire an alpine horn player to announce when it's time to move.
7. Rethink Wedding Transportation
Okay, you're probably not going to have a parade float, but that doesn't mean you can't be creative with your transportation. Your guests will gape when they walk out of your ceremony and see an awesome antique car or retro school bus waiting to pick you up! Or choose transportation that pays homage to your wedding venue, like a hayride for a country ranch wedding or even a Snowcat for a winter mountain reception.
8. Give Them A Say!
Use your RSVP cards or wedding website to let your guests have an opinion on something other than chicken or fish. Let them request a song, create Mad Lib-style return cards you can then display at the reception, or have them vote on the top-tier flavor of your wedding cake! Guests will love seeing the details that they helped choose come to life on the wedding day.
9. Serve Food You'd Want to Eat
Think about what foods make you happy -- whether it be ice cream sandwiches, mac and cheese, watermelon, donuts, or tacos -- and add them to the menu. One of our favorite new ideas: a potato chip bar complete with all the dips. Talk to your caterer about putting together a truly personalized (and delicious!) menu. Then watch your guests chow down.
10. Send Them Off with Breakfast
Even if it's not an all-out postwedding brunch, plan to give your guests a little goodbye breakfast the day after. Rent out the hotel conference room and talk to the staff about creating a breakfast buffet. Or simply arrange for bagels and coffee to be delivered to your guests' hotel rooms before they depart.
-- Justine Lorelle Blanchard - The Knot & News Channel5