While a Saturday afternoon celebration in the bride's parents' backyard might have been a normal wedding in your parents' era, getting hitched is a bit more of an event these days. As new generations reach marrying age and start to plan celebrations that honor their love, trends shift with their attitudes. Today, when you're invited to your pal's wedding—or imagining your own—you can expect to plan more than a single day and night worth of events. In fact, more and more couples are orchestrating weekend-long affairs.
Believe it or not, considering they're so rampant, a weekend-long wedding is still a relatively new concept—and one that continues to take shape. Wedding planners and experts predict that this approach to saying "I do" will stick around—and for good reason: It allows more time to have one-on-one experiences with guests. Here, wedding pros shed more light on the idea of a wedding weekend—and why it's the modern approach to nuptials.
It allows for more unique experiences.
If you ask Paulette Alkire, the in-house wedding planner at Chalet View Lodge, this wedding season is already shaping up to be a bigger party year than last. Who wants an affair that only lasts one night? Not many couples, especially because stateside weddings are continuing to see larger guests list. Couples savor the opportunity to cater experiences to their specific tastes and interests—whether it's pre- or post-ceremony a microbrewing lesson, a round of golf, or a cocktail class that teaches their guests how to make the concoction that brought them together. The only ingredient, really, they need is time. "With more days to celebrate, and more invitees, the couple has more opportunity to cultivate a really unique experience with everyone who joins," she says.
It allows for more activities.
Once you're engaged, you can expect some rituals: an engagement party, a bridal shower, a bachelorette getaway, a rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, the reception, the after-party, and the morning-after-we're-so-hungover brunch. While these are fun and treasured by many couples, most of the events are reserved for only your most intimate circle of family and friends. Wedding photographer and author Cavin Elizabeth Urquhart says wedding weekends are popular because they allow for more interaction with all guests through a variety of activities aren't as stuffy or formal. These might include sports tournaments, sailing, and pool parties—all of which are growing in popularity this year, she notes.
You can make it a vacation.
Sure, you could have your burgeoning list of close (and ahem, distant) pals spend a whole weekend at a hotel—or you could spin the globe and see where you land. Alkire says because millennials are experimental and experiential, they are hyper-focused on not only having a good time, but ensuring every detail is Instagram-worthy. And as any over-snapper knows, it takes a handful of takes to get the right shot. "Instead of scrambling to say 'I do's', take photos, and make sure every guest gets a 'hello' and 'thanks for coming' all before a 10 p.m. curfew, couples are opting to make their wedding more of a 'vacation celebration' that includes all their friends and family, and is spread out over a few days," she explains.
You can spend more money if it's intimate.
On the opposite end of the big gala style of weddings are intimate affairs, which wedding planner Carrie Darling explains are trending. Unlike celebrations where couples invite upwards of 100s of people to watch them make it official, these ceremonies cater to a very tailored—and carefully-selected—audience who are close to the couple and their love story. With small invitees—say 20 or so—each detail of the weekend can include everyone. She notes these types of events are usually destination and filled with endless personalized moments, instead of grand affairs with DJs and tight schedules. The ultimate goal is the ability to develop deep bonds and rooted memories that cement your marriage—and it's three-day experience—into everyone's mind for years to come.