When it comes to your wedding in the Washington DC area, you probably have plenty of out-of-town guests travelling to the area for your celebration of love! What do you need to know about welcoming guests and heelping them navigate the city? Once again, we turned to some of the top wedding planners in the Washington DC area and asked for their advice. How can couples gjve their guests ideas of what to do and where to go? Here’s what they had to say…

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Photo Credit: Audra Wrisley Photography from Classic Summer Wedding in DC

Communicate with Your Guests

It’s a slippery slope between providing helpful information and positioning yourself as their personal tour guide. Be sure to direct questions and inquiries to others, e.g. hotel concierge, wedding planner, maid of honor/best man. — Elizabeth at Elizabeth Duncan Events

A wedding website can be a tremendous help for your out of town guests. The website may contain a page which speaks to hotel accommodations and local attractions. Another option is a “Welcome Basket.” This basket can be handed out to guests who stay in the hotel. It can contain brochures with information on local activities and also goodies for your guests to enjoy during their stay. — Shawn at TreBella Events

Wedding websites and wedding apps are great ways to help your guests plan their trip in advance, more fully enjoy all that DC has to offer, and quickly reference celebration locations on the go. — Ginger at Gingerwood Creative

Creating a wedding website that you distribute to guests (usually on the save the date!) with lots of great info regarding city attractions, hotels, restaurants, wedding info, etc. is a great way to help everyone from out of town plan their trip accordingly. — Jennifer of Elegantly Chic Events

Communication is key here! Include as much info as you can in either print, the web, or an e-mail message such as hotel info, directions, addresses, contact phone numbers too just in case they need to reach someone. — Courtney at A Sweet Soiree

Parking and Transportation

If you have a lot of guests staying at nearby hotels, arrange for shuttle buses to take them to and from the wedding so they don’t have to worry about renting cars, parking, etc. I know they will appreciate the gesture! — Jennifer of Elegantly Chic Events

Book a hotel where the parking isn’t insanely expensive if possible, and that’s close to a Metro stop so they can explore. Include a link to Uber on your wedding web site and explain how to download the app—you can even get a wedding code to give guests a free first ride! And, if you can afford it, please provide transportation for your guests. No, you don’t have to, but it just makes everyone’s lives so much easier if you know when everyone will show up!  — Rebecca at Blue Canary Events

Transportation is always important to mention. On welcome bag information cards, we typically suggest how to get there. Simply suggesting “cab or Uber,” “walkable from hotel,” “take the Orange Line to Clarendon” is easy for guests to help figure how to get around or at least give them somewhere to start. — Laura of Events in the City

If your wedding is in DC and some guests are driving, make sure they download the Parkmobile app as DC parking meters are set up with that app. In Montgomery county MobileNOW is another app to be downloaded for cars as their meters are connected to that app. Like Uber, these are not quick apps to download and should be communicated to guests ahead of time. — Katie at Elegance & Simplicity

The more information the better when it comes to transportation and driving instructions. Let guests know before they come to down if you will provide a shuttle, or if parking is difficult near your reception location. It will help them decide whether arrangements like a rental car make sense. — Ginger at Gingerwood Creative

Give up to date information on transportation in the welcome bags including how easy or not easy catching cabs or Uber times in the area will be. You don’t want guests to assume that they can catch a cab easily after the wedding, when in fact your reception venue is off the beaten path in D.C and cabs are not frequent. — Tabitha at Roberts and Co. Events

Creating a Wedding Weekend Timeline

If your wedding is in the city and your guests are from out of town, do yourself and your guests a favor, and put everything as close together as possible. Ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner. Getting around the city is hard enough for those of us who are experts—imagine your Aunt Ida from Paducah, Kentucky staring at Dupont Circle and just having NO idea what to do. — Rebecca at Blue Canary Events

Keeping the Expense Down 

Make sure that your “out of town guests” are well-informed of any potential expenses they might incur. Resort fees, valet parking fees, cash bars, and high city taxes can really blow your wedding guests’s budget if they are unaware of these additional expenses in advance.  — Kay at Howerton + Wooten Events

Accommodations

Always plan on guests wanting to stay for a mini vacation when booking your room block. Reserve rooms for a few days before and after the wedding as a courtesy so that they have the option of arriving on Thursday or leaving on Monday so that they can enjoy the city. — Tabitha at Roberts and Co. Events

Wedding Itinerary + Welcome Bags

Book a hotel where the parking isn’t insanely expensive if possible, and that’s close to a Metro stop so they can explore. Include a link to Uber on your wedding web site and explain how to download the app—you can even get a wedding code to give guests a free first ride! Include a map of the Smithsonians and monuments, a letter with your itinerary as well as your favorite coffee shop, cupcake or ice cream place, best places for lunch, where the closest drugstore is, etc. Leave copies with the concierge at the hotel.  — Rebecca at Blue Canary Events

Points of Interest: you can include a city’s visitors guide. What I like the most is when clients tell their guests their favorite restaurants and their favorite places to visit/activities. I think it personalizes it for your guests. One of my clients wrote out a few options for guests on “What to do on a Friday night in DC.” It was great! — Vicky at Event Accomplished

Think about what your guests might need during their stay and share information about where they can find it. Include contact information for a couple of good hair salons, a dry cleaner, a drugstore, emergency medical facilities, nearby restaurants, shopping malls, and any other businesses your guests may find interesting or useful. — Stephanie at Pretty Entertaining

Having a detailed wedding website that outlines your personal suggestions for how to handle attend your wedding is great for out of town guests. Providing a light itinerary and options for those who don’t know your city via the welcome bag is awesome. Don’t just throw in nine different maps and brochures. Make personalized suggestions and be thoughtful with a range in price as well. — Laura of Events in the City

I almost always recommend that guests come at least two days prior to the wedding to get acclamation to the area and check in. This way they have at least one evening to enjoy the city before the wedding day! DC has so much to offer. Families should definitely be made aware of how the majority of our museums are free…in most major cities around the world, museums have a fee to get in. For the museums that have fees and you know your particular guests might be interested in going (like the Newseum) Call those museums ahead of time to see if they have any discounts available for large groups! You know your guests best! — Katie at Elegance & Simplicity

For guests arriving at the hotel, a nice welcome bag to receive with some nice little personal gifts, or something that reflection of the couple, along with area tourist maps depending on the location. Tourist maps can be found at your local county visitor center or local tourism board. If you want to really customize, have your stationery designer to design custom maps of the area that will match with all of your other invitation stationery. – Tara at Perfect Planning Events

Always include a welcome note at the hotels either in a welcome bag or on its own. Be sure this has a schedule for the weekend and any attire and transportation. It should also list a few places to eat and the couples favorite attractions around town. — Courtney at A Sweet Soiree

Couples can order Washington D.C information Booklets from the D.C Tourism site for only the cost of shipping to include in guest welcome bags. This is a really useful tool for guests who are looking for unique opportunities in the city to site see around the wedding activities. — Tabitha at Roberts and Co. Events

For guests who are coming from out of town and staying at your hotel block of choice, provide them with welcome gift bags upon check-in. While welcome bags are thoughtful, they are also extremely helpful if you include information on your city. We suggest our couples include things like: wedding weekend itinerary; local things going on/to-do/places you love (Things that make this city so special to you and your fiancé.); city maps (that you can usually get for free from your tourist information center); transportation option sheet (closest metro/subway and cab numbers); and directions to the wedding events from their hotel. In lieu of guest bags, creating a wedding website with all of the information above will keep all of your wedding guests in the loop, especially those coming from out of town. Apart from those two options, we’ve seen some couples with booklet invitations that include everything from when to arrive and depart to what to do while you’re there. It’s a super cool idea, especially if you’re having a smaller wedding and want to spend the weekend with all of your guests. – Candy, of Candy + Co. Events

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Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

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