How to plan a Multi-Day or Weekend Wedding
Looking to combine your rehearsal dinner, marriage ceremony, wedding reception, after party and recovery brunch into one epic wedding celebration? Tanya Bywater, of ABIA Weddings, talks to wedding planning experts to find the best ideas, tips and tricks for organising a memorable multi-day or weekend wedding extravaganza.
Woodburn Homestead | Lilac In Hand Photography
You might have dreamt of it from childhood, put months — even years — into planning, invited your nearest and dearest to travel interstate or internationally, then in a blur of happy tears, smiles, love and laughter — the blink of an eye, really — your wedding day flies by. Little wonder that weekend weddings and multi-day events are trending, allowing couples and their guests to extend the occasion, savour the celebration, explore travel destinations and spend quality time with those they treasure.
“Who wouldn’t want to make the best day of their lives last a little longer?” poses Keighley Coates, event coordinator at The Old Dairy Maleny in Queenland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland, who frequently assists engaged couples with their weekend wedding planning.
Of course, the concept of multi-day weddings is not a new one — in many cultures they’re customary and steeped in ritual and tradition — but in Australia extended wedding events have been the exception, until recently. “They are definitely becoming more popular, especially now that weddings are back to normal after Covid,” explains Keighley.
The appeal is understandable, but days of wedding festivities don’t just happen. They require careful consideration and planning and need to factor in the likes of venues, vendors, catering, activities, travel arrangements and transport, accommodation requirements, guests’ individual needs — especially those with families — and plenty of fun, all at the same time.
Kingfisher Bay Resort | Amy Hinks Photography
Where to start with planning a multi-day or weekend wedding
Whether you want an intimate sojourn or an overstated spectacular, the style and setting of your ideal multi-day wedding will be determined by a variety of factors, including guest numbers, budget and duration. Essentially though, you’ll need to clearly define your wedding dreams from the very beginning.
“Really spend some time to work out exactly what you want your wedding weekend to look like,” advises Jemma Hind, Event Scientist at popular multi-day wedding venue Trawool Estate in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley.
Trawool Estate | Trent & Jessie
To refine your wedding vision, it can help to break your multi-day schedule down into pre-wedding, wedding day and post-wedding events and come up with a rough itinerary. Here are some to consider.
Before the wedding
Buck’s / Hen's party
Bridal Shower or Kitchen Tea
Pre-wedding cultural traditions
On the wedding day
Hair, make-up and pre-wedding preparations
RACV Torquay Resort | Hello Chloe May
After the wedding
Recovery breakfast, brunch or day
Post-wedding cultural traditions
Once you’ve established an outline of events, get creative allocating them to group activities, excursions and sightseeing — think spa sessions, golf days, tennis tournaments, pool parties, bushwalks, wine tastings, guided tours, gatherings by a barbeque, pizza oven or firepit and shopping trips depending on your venue, location and wedding theme.
How to choose a multi-day or weekend wedding venue
A well-defined wedding vision will help shape your venue checklist but venue styles and practicalities — such as guest numbers and needs, budget and location — also need contemplation.
It’s absolutely possible to spread a multi-day wedding across various venues, but if you’re looking for a place to base your celebrations, your choice of venue will essentially come down to whether you’re seeking a private multi-day wedding escape or a resort-style experience.
Private and semi-private venues — Many boutique venues take an all-inclusive approach, offering wedding couples exclusive use, a selection of dining areas and onsite activities and accommodation.
Resort-style venues — Generally speaking, resorts and hotels lend themselves to larger-scale events, offering a plethora of entertainment spaces, accommodation and facilities, in a more public, shared setting.
Austinvilla Estate | Sean Reefman Photography
Guest numbers and needs
An idea of the number of guests likely to attend will help with finding a venue to cater to them. Equally, some of your potential guests, like families, older invitees and those with accessibility needs, may require specific types of accommodation, so it’s wise to make provisions for them in your initial planning.
Budget and payments
Limiting though it may be, you’ll relax and enjoy your wedding weekend more if you know you can afford it, so it’s a good idea to establish a budget and remain within it.
Decide how you’ll pay for the likes of the wedding itself, plus additional events, accommodation, dining, activities and transport and travel expenses. Set funds aside for everything you’re covering, then clearly communicate with your guests if you expect them to contribute or make bookings independently. An insert included with your wedding invitation, or a polite explanation on your wedding website, will help ensure everyone understands what’s expected of them.
While multi-day and destination weddings often go hand-in-hand, you don’t need to go far to enjoy all of the benefits of an extended wedding.
“We have had couples travel interstate, or even abroad, to get married with us, but there have also been lots of locals too,” says Keighley.
Taking into account where your guests are coming from, weather and seasonal pricing at the time of year you’re marrying, and the activities and attractions you envisage as part of your occasion may help you narrow down your ideal location.
Old Broadwater Farm | Sarah Tonkin Photography
Ideas, tips and tricks for multi-day and weekend weddings
The intention of multi-day and weekend weddings is to allow quality time with those you hold dearest, so make sure magical memories are made by getting creative with your arrangements and putting plans in place to ensure you relax and enjoy the celebrations.
Set the scene
Whether a character-filled cocktail bar, a beautifully-styled picnic in the gardens or a ambient candlelit restaurant, gather your guests for drinks, rehearsal dinners and recovery brunches in settings that feel memorable.
Kalinya Estate | Rachel Gutierrez Photography
Amp up your activities
Go a little bit ‘extra’ by incorporating the likes of themes, dress codes or fun forms of transport into your activity planning.
“At Trawool Estate, one of our couples held an 80’s Wimbledon tennis tournament, all dressed in white, with wigs, sweat bands and leg warmers,” says Jemma.
So, set your imagination into overdrive and think matching robes for that spa session, a retro-theme for that golf day, wine tasting by stretch limousine, cosy blankets for that firepit soiree or a deejay for the pool party.
Add an itinerary
Make sure guests know what’s on, and when, by providing them with a printed itinerary, and ask them to RSVP to each activity at invitation stage, so that you can plan accordingly.
Jemma also suggests, “Couples take into consideration the things ‘they’ need to get done, like the ceremony rehearsal and the final check-in with the onsite coordinator".
Plan for practicalities
Mentally walk yourself through each moment of your celebration to ensure you’ve planned ahead for set-ups, clean-ups, transport pick-ups, vendor coordination and other practical necessities.
“Hosting a wedding weekend means more logisitcs,” points out Keighley. “If you can, hire a wedding planner or coordinator to help. They are an investment, but they take the stressors away, so you can really enjoy your wedding weekend.”
Capture the moment
RACV Cape Schank Resort | Vanessa Norris Photo
As one of Australia's most trusted wedding resources, the ABIA Directory is the perfect starting point for multi-day and weekend wedding planning. It offers a multitude of wedding inspiration and lists vendors throughout Australia — from venues to celebrants, photographers, caterers, decorators, transport providers, hair stylists, make-up artists, live music and even dance teachers and photo booth hire — with ratings, reviews and recommendations provided by couples who’ve used the services previously. In fact, the ABIA website overflows with the latest wedding-related information, including sustainable wedding suggestions, gift ideas, destination wedding venues, honeymoon ideas, an online wedding registry and all that couples need for smooth wedding planning.