The Ultimate Guide To a Multi-Day Wedding

Have you ever thought about whisking your closest friends and family away to a beautiful location and spending multiple days together?

And then thought, what a perfect idea for our wedding!

If so, today’s blog is for you!

We’re sharing the ultimate guide to a multi-day wedding.

What is a multi-day wedding?

So, first, let’s talk about what a multi-day wedding really is.

Because it’s not the same thing as the standard wedding weekend.

In a typical wedding weekend you’d have the wedding itself, a rehearsal dinner the day before and a brunch the day after.

Even for a typical destination wedding weekend, it can be very similar.

But, the difference between a hometown wedding weekend and a destination wedding weekend (beyond the location itself), is the guest list.

With a hometown wedding, the guests at both the rehearsal dinner and day after brunch are usually smaller subsets of the wedding guests.

With a destination wedding, all guests are invited to all events.

In other words, destination weddings are more inclusive.

So a multi-day wedding takes that inclusive concept to the next level.

Instead of just the wedding and 2 other events, it’s multiple days of planned meals, activities and events for the entire group.

It’s an immersive and inclusive experience.

The goal is to allow guests not only time to enjoy a location, but to spend time together. That means time with the couple, time with old friends and time making new friends.

And for the couple, it’s about bringing everyone they love together. And having lots of quality time with everyone.

Different types of multi-day weddings

Multi-cultural South Asian destination wedding ceremony in Calistoga part of a multi-day wedding
(Photo credit: Emik Nikora)

Now multi-day weddings are not a new concept. But they are becoming more and more common.

COVID definitely had a part to play in their popularity as did the continued rise in destination weddings.

And while destination weddings are what you think of when you think about a multi-day wedding, there are other types as well.

The first are certain cultural weddings.

As I mentioned before, multi-day weddings are not a new concept, case and point South Asian weddings.

South Asian weddings have traditionally always been multi-day weddings. And as a cultural wedding, there are different traditional celebrations that take place over the course of many days.

There are also some African weddings, especially more modern ones that take place over multiple days as well incorporating both western and traditional celebrations.

Cultural weddings are a very common type of multi-day wedding.

A less common type of multi-day wedding is what I like to call the segmented wedding.

In this type of wedding, there are still multiple days of activities and events, but the groups involved in each will vary.

For example, you may start with some type of welcome event where everyone is invited. But the next day, smaller groups might gather for different activities like a spa day, snorkeling, golf, hiking or wine tasting. The following day there might be a lunch picnic for everyone along with a dinner just for immediate family or drinks with just friends.

So while there are events where the entire group is invited, there are also many other events where it’s a smaller group of specific individuals.

For larger weddings or couples who enjoy more intimate events, this can be a good way to ensure you’re getting time with everyone. It’s still inclusive, but in a different way.

And it’s also a way to incorporate a multi-day wedding when you’re having a hometown wedding or semi-destination wedding.

But once again, multi-day destination weddings are most common.

Mainly because destination weddings are perfectly geared towards spending many days together.

Why you’d choose a multi-day wedding

Wedding party in a group hug at a multi-day wedding in Calistoga
(Photo credit: Kate Webber)

Now that you know what a multi-day wedding is and the types, let’s talk about the biggie, why you’d choose it.

And I’m going to go back to what I said at the beginning.

Imagine whisking your closest loved ones away to a beautiful location and spending multiple days together…

Doesn’t that just bring a smile to your face?

The idea that you can take a vacation somewhere with all the people you love, is just a happy thing.

And to be able to celebrate your wedding on top of that, is extra happy.

And it doesn’t matter how many people we’re talking about. It could be 10 or 50 or 100.

It’s the idea of being with everyone for an inclusive and immersive experience. Where you get to be around each other for more than just a few hours.

Where you have time to make memories over multiple days of meals, activities and spontaneous moments.

Think about it… If you go on a road trip or vacation with someone(s) or live with them as a roommate, you get to know them well.

And it’s not just because those situations are intimate. It’s because you spend a lot of time together.

And not just organized time, but unorganized time.

Do you ever notice that sometimes the most impactful moments are when you’re just grabbing coffee or standing in line to get a taco or sitting around a fire or playing a game?

When you just happen to start chatting with someone. And you learn something interesting, hit it off and make a friend or get to know someone better.

It’s amazing what can happen with just more time.

So when you take that concept and apply it to your wedding, that immersive experience really allows both you and your guests to get to know each other.

It’s not just meeting each other, but actually having conversations and unscripted moments.

All purely because you’re spending a lot time together.

And the inclusive nature of these multi-day weddings is one of the best parts.

It’s not about singling out “special” people, it’s about the fact that everyone there is special.

And you’re not just celebrating a wedding, but celebrating all these people you love.

But perhaps the biggest reason to have a multi-day wedding is the fact that it will never happen again.

You will likely never have all these people gathered in one place ever again.

And for your guests, given that it’s a destination wedding, it’s also very possible they may never come to this place again.

So creating this special multi-day wedding experience is a chance to take this moment in time and live it, savor it and celebrate it.

The budget for a multi-day wedding

Guests enjoying brunch at a multi-day wedding on the Big Island at the Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii
(Photo credit: Emily Piraino Photography)

So, you might be feeling all the feels right now. I am just writing about it!

But I’m now going to bring up the subject no one likes, the wedding budget.

And it’s not because I want to pop your happy bubble. It’s so if you choose to have a multi-day wedding, you go into it with your eyes open.

As you may have guessed, with a multi-day wedding, the budget is higher.

Because more days, more events, more activities, and more meals, equals more money.

There’s no real way around that. It will cost more.

But how much more will depend on many factors – the location, the time of year, the guest count, the venue, the resort, the activities, etc…

A big piece though will be thinking through what you want to cover.

So, the idea behind a multi-day wedding is to make it inclusive. And inclusive means NOT cost prohibitive.

Because for most couples, you will have guests who have more disposable income than others. You will have guests that have more flexible jobs than others. You will have guests who have tighter financial situations and responsibilities than others.

And this means that for some, coming to your multi-day wedding will be easy, and for others it’s more of a struggle.

If you want everyone you love to attend, you’ll want to consider covering as many of the costs to attend your wedding as you can.

And this includes things like travel. While most couples will let their guests handle their own flight (since guests will be coming from all over the place likely), accommodations is an item you can cover.

In particular, if you’re choosing the hotel/resort, covering the costs for your guests’ rooms makes the ability to attend much easier. Because they don’t have to worry about the cost and you don’t have to worry about them wanting to stay elsewhere.

But this of course adds to your budget, so you’d have to account for that.

Then there’s the events and activities themselves along with meals.

Generally if you’re hosting these you’d cover the costs.

But there are ways to cover the organized meals, activities and events, and then let your guests handle the the unorganized ones. This really comes down to planning and what you have in mind.

But the more you can cover, the easier and more inclusive it will be for your guests. And the less they’ll have to worry about planning for.

And I’d like to think it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it… Get yourself a destination wedding planner!

If you ever needed one, it’s with a multi-day wedding.

Not only are you not going to want to have to deal with all the things over all the days, but planning this type of wedding does take more time, organization and design.

While this will also add to your budget, it will be well worth it in the end, I promise you.

The best locations for your multi-day wedding

Couple in hats and a Stanley Idaho truck at their multi-day destination wedding
(Photo credit: Christine Marie Photo)

If you’ve made it this far and you’ve decided you’re in, let’s now chat about locations.

Now you may have a destination location in mind already and if so then you can skip ahead to the next section on venues. But if you’re open to location (which many of my clients are), then you’ll want to start here before you dive into venues.

Because the location you pick will play a HUGE part in your planning, design and budget.

Now first, is there a list of best locations for a multi-day wedding? A list like that probably does exist out there somewhere.

But the real answer is no.

There is no “best” location. But there is a best location for you.

And that location is combination of not only who you are, but what you love and what you want for your wedding.

And of course we’re not just talking about one of you, but of you.

So how do you choose a location for your multi-day wedding?

Like with any destination wedding, you start with places you love.

That could be actual places like Hawaii or Vancouver or Croatia.

Or it could be places with a certain vibe. Like the mountains or forest, coastal California, tropical islands, urban cities, or remote countrysides.

These are just examples, but you’ll want to think about places that make you two happy.

Places that have meaning for you or places where you feel most yourself.

Because it makes no sense to have an outdoorsy mountain wedding if that’s not who the two of you are.

Surf boards lined up for a destination wedding activity at a multi-day wedding in Hawaii
(Photo credit: Emily Piraino Photography)

Now once you’ve thought through the places you love, then think about the kinds of events and activities that most excite you.

These could be things you enjoy doing or these could be things that are important to incorporate into your wedding.

For example, if you like water activities you’ll want to choose locations where there is some body of water. Or if you really want to bring in your heritage, culture or family traditions, you’ll want to choose a location that can support that whether that’s through food, entertainment or decor.

This should help narrow the field. And narrowing the field is a good thing!

Because while the world is your oyster, looking at options all across the world is not a good use of your time.

So, narrowing the field is going to be your goal.

Which means you also need to think about things like travel and distance, the difficulty to get to your location and how you feel about an international location vs. domestic.

This will also narrow the field.

And let’s not forget our friend, the budget!

Some locations will inherently be more expensive than others, so you’ll want watch out for that as you figure out your location.

You’ll want to keep in mind exchange rates, travel fees, automatic service charges, food and drink costs, major tourist destinations, etc… They will all play into the cost of your wedding location.

You’ll want to choose the wedding location that makes most sense given all these factors.

The best wedding venues for your multi-day wedding

Couple kissing at their multi-day wedding at the Frangipani resort in Anguilla
(Photo credit: Savanah Willow)

Once you’ve settled on a location or a few locations (which is not uncommon), then it’s time to find your wedding venue.

By the way, having multiple locations as options can be a good thing!

Because depending on what you’re looking for, having multiple locations will give you more options. And this is particularly the case if you’re looking for a specific kind of venue.

It’s not always easy to find a specific type of venue in every location, so having multiple locations to look at will broaden your venue options.

Now like with wedding locations, there’s isn’t necessarily a list of the best wedding venues for a multi-day wedding. But there are a few wedding venue options that work better for multi-day weddings.

The first and most common choice is a resort wedding.

Resorts are great because you can both stay onsite and have events onsite.

This means less transportation is required and that makes it easy on guests and on you.

And because everyone is staying onsite, the opportunity to have lots of those unorganized spontaneous moments is also very easy.

Resorts also lend themselves well to activities because many times they’ll have a concierge and activities department. And if you have any guests with mobility issues, resorts are well built for that.

For most couples, picking a resort for a multi-day wedding will be the best choice for lots of reasons.

And many times with multi-day weddings, a resort wedding buyout will also make a lot of sense.

But, what type of resort is best will depend on you and what makes sense for you.

I do directional sign at the Cornerstone Sonoma art sculpture wedding venue
(Photo credit: Arrowood Photography)

But what happens if don’t want to get married at a resort? And by the way, I totally understand if that is the case.

Because maybe you have a particular type of venue in mind.

Perhaps you know you want to get married at a museum or winery. Or maybe there’s a particular style of venue that you’re looking for whether that’s urban or artsy or funky or historic.

So another option is to have a combination of venues.

You select your wedding venue first (where you’re going to get married specifically) and look around your venue to find the other supporting pieces.

There’s probably a nearby hotel or resort (or multiple hotels and resorts) for your group to stay at. Also nearby are likely other venues which will work for your other events. And activities can be found almost anywhere.

The upside of this option is that you get to explore more of the area and each event will feel very different. And that’s fun for both you and your guests!

The downside is you’ll likely have to transport everyone everywhere. This is more of a hassle for everyone involved and takes more time and coordination.

But the key with this option is to have a home base for everyone to easily gather and hang out outside of the organized activities.

And your hotel/resort would be that home base. So liking both your wedding venue and your home base is going to be important.

It’s also important to know that you can have a resort wedding and also do events offsite. This a hybrid of the two and is an option as well.

Now which wedding venue you choose for your multi-day wedding is a personal choice.

The real question you have to ask yourself is what makes most sense for you, your guests and your location.

Because your wedding venue will play a big part in the experience of your multi-day wedding and how it will be organized.

The point is to be together and have time together. You want to focus on having a good time.

Which means you don’t want to overcomplicate things and take away from that focus.

So, depending on your situation, one of these options will be the best fit.

How to plan a multi-day wedding

Desert glamping wedding at Under Canvas for a multi-day wedding in Utah
(Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photographers)

The process to planning a multi-day wedding isn’t all that different from a normal destination wedding in the sense of what you need.

You’ll still need things like food and drinks, music, a photographer and decor. And you’ll have to think about all the travel related items.

The real difference is that you’re planning for more days and more time.

And with more days and more time, means more planning and coordination.

You’ll have to think about everything from when guests arrive on the first day through the last day when they leave. And while you won’t be planning something for every minute of every day, you will have multiple things happening every day.

And a vendor team to help with each of those things.

So the design and logistics of each day from morning till night will need to be thought through.

Now if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, don’t worry, it’s completely natural.

Unless you’re an event planner, you’ve never planned multiple days of events for a big group of people.

And it’s a big undertaking!

Long story short, how you plan a multi-day wedding is with a destination wedding planner.

While you can attempt to do it yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it.

There are so many things you won’t know and having a pro manage the process for you will be much smoother, easier, cheaper and result in a much better experience.

Not just a better experience for you, but for your guests. Because they’ll be taken care of by someone else.

Which means you’ll be able to really enjoy this once in a lifetime experience the way you should.

Custom runner and maracas, tropical flowers and cactus make for a fun Chileno resort destination wedding in Cabo
(Photo credit: Dennis Berti)

With that being said, here’s a couple of pro tips to help as you think about and plan your multi-day wedding:

Pro Tip#1 – If it makes sense, utilize the same vendor on multiple days

There will inevitably be some vendors who you will only use once like many activity vendors, a specialty dessert or live musician.

But when you can, try to use the same vendor multiple times.

For example, a caterer can cater multiple different meals or a DJ can help with music on multiple occasions. A florist could do flowers for the major events and a photographer could capture them. A transportation company could shuttle guests from the beginning to the end. And a rental company could bring in items daily.

They’d change things up for each day/event/situation as needed, but having just one company handling that aspect of your multi-day wedding makes things easier.

This of course has to make sense given your situation and what you want.

But the utilizing the same vendor multiple times will be more efficient and reduce overall costs and as opposed to going piecemeal for each item.

Pro Tip #2 – Make it easy

Whether you’re providing everything for your guests or having them cover some of the costs, make it easy!

Tell them where to go or what their options are.

The less thinking and planning they have to do, the better.

Not only will they be happier, but they’ll also come to you with less questions. Which means less work for you!

So from the time they arrive to when they leave, you’ll need to think about all the things they might need or want.

Put yourselves in their shoes and think about what you’d need.

Then plan ahead for it. Have options available or make sure they know where they can get things.

Happy couple at a multi-day destination wedding at Autocamp Yosemite
(Photo credit: Mary Meck Weddings)

Having a multi-day wedding does require effort, money and time, but I think all my past clients who’ve done one will tell you that it was well worth it in the end.

It’s a really special time with all your special people in a special place.

And that combo doesn’t usually come around again in our lifetimes.

It really is a once in a lifetime experience. So, if you’re excited by the idea and able to do, I would encourage you go for it.

And of course, we can help! Let’s chat and I can’t wait to help make your multi-day wedding come to life.

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