They've crossed the continent to hear you say "I do." The least you can do is help your out-of-town guests have a comfortable and stress-free stay.
Find them a place to stay.
Secure room blocks at three to five hotels, says event planner Elizabeth Allen: “Call hotel sales offices and negotiate discounted rates.” Most hotels require that you block at least ten rooms six to eight months before the wedding. Deposits are not required, but the rooms will be released if your guests don’t confirm reservations at least four to six weeks before the wedding. Allen’s partner and sister, Susan Allen, adds, “Choose a variety of price ranges—maybe one high-end, two mid-range, and an economy. Accommodations should be centrally located, making it easy for your guests to get to and from the festivities. And you should send the relevant information to your guests four to five months before the wedding, giving them plenty of time to make arrangements.” If multiple guests are coming from the same place, look into group airline reservations.
Prepare welcome baskets.
Products can do wonders to soothe travelers’ nerves: scented hand creams, candles, and soaps are always a hit. Include the current New York Magazine or a travel guide. “Toss in little cookies in the shape of cabs or some kind of munchy from a well-known New York market like Dean & Deluca or the Vinegar Factory,” says Susan. Fresh flowers and bottles of wine are always appreciated. Finally, the basket should include a personal note welcoming each guest and giving directions to the ceremony. Depending on the hotel, you can arrange for welcome baskets to be handed to guests at the front desk or delivered to the room on arrival.
Don't count on their sense of direction.
Giving guests street and subway maps and a MetroCard can do wonders to encourage self-sufficiency. Arrange transportation to the ceremony for elderly guests, suggests Susan. “It shows that you’re taking the extra steps to make things easy for them.”
“Many people host a cocktail reception for out-of-towners,” says Elizabeth. “Others invite them to the rehearsal dinner.” The bride’s parents traditionally host a brunch for these guests the morning after the wedding—with or without the newlyweds.
Remember what they like to do.
The Allen sisters suggest scheduling activities for visiting guests. In the suburbs, arrange for golf or nature walks. In the city, you might enlist private group museum tours or block off times at salons for nail services and hairstyling. “There are endless ways to say ‘We’re so glad you’re here,’ ” says Elizabeth.
From the 2003 New York Wedding Guide