How To Give Your Destination Wedding Guests The Trip Of A Lifetime - Exclusive

After nearly two years of postponements and cancellations, couples are ready to say "I do" again in memorable weddings that will celebrate their love and wow their guests at the same time. So it's not surprising that destination weddings are on the rise, with a recent poll from David's Bridal finding that 55% of engaged couples are planning to pull off a destination wedding instead of staying local for their big day (via Destination I Do).

Luckily for these lovebirds, there are plenty of popular destination wedding spots to choose from. Whether you opt to flock to a tropical locale like Belize or would prefer to say "I do" in a romantic European city, there's an important thing to keep in mind when planning your vows: making your guests happy. After all, your family and friends will be spending both time and money to be a part of your day, so you want to do everything you can to make them feel special and give them a vacation they'll never forget.

Not sure where to get started? The List spoke exclusively to wedding vendors to get their best tips on how to give your destination wedding guests the trip of a lifetime. 

Keep everyone informed

As soon as you book your wedding location, you should set up a website that features all important information so guests can start booking their trips, including securing hotel rooms, airport info, and date/times of specific celebrations and planned excursions. "You can also list any dress code requirements and suggested items to pack," Steve Feinberg of Bunn DJ Company told The List. "And be sure to include important contact information for your resort."

Of course, it's also a nice touch to present your family and friends with some necessities when they arrive at the hotel. Create welcome bags that contain some of the basics — sunscreen, bug spray, bottles of water, aspirin, a map of the resort, etc. — as well as some fun surprises, including local treats and personalized beach towels or bags. "When guests travel to destination weddings they usually spend more money than if it was a local wedding," Monika Kreinberg of Furever Us explained. "So make sure they feel as pampered and appreciated as possible."

Host a welcome party

Your guest list will likely include family and friends of all ages and different areas of your life who have traveled — and probably spent quite a bit of money — to be with you at this once-in-a-lifetime event. So it goes without saying that you want them to know how much all of this means to you. "Guests travel from far and want to feel like their presence matters," Monika Kreinberg of Furever Us told The List. "You have probably not seen many people in a while, so it is a great way to spend some extra time with them, mainly because the wedding day goes by so quickly and you don't get a chance to connect much on that day with everyone."

In fact, the welcome party is especially important. Your guests will be spending the entire trip with one another — and hopefully making happy memories they'll remember for years to come. Hosting a small cocktail party upon everyone's arrival can help break the ice, giving you a chance to make introductions, as well as go over details of the wedding festivities. In addition, a farewell breakfast or brunch is a nice touch so you can say goodbye to everyone before they leave for home.

Plan exciting activities

While you'll be undoubtedly planning a wedding to remember, you should also put together some fun activities for your guests to enjoy during their stay. "At a recent destination wedding in Jamaica, for example, the couple brought all of their wedding party out on a catamaran cruise," Jenna Brisson of Jenna Brisson Photography told The List. "Everyone listened to music, relaxed, and jumped off the boat into the clear blue water together, the bride included."

Other ideas include booking guided tours of the destination so family and friends can learn about the locale and experience its culture and attractions. For adventurous guests, you can also look into a day of snorkeling in the sea, ziplining or ATVing through the jungle, recommends Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group.

And don't forget to carve out some downtime so everyone gets a chance to relax — remember, this is a vacation for them, too. Katie Mast of Rock Paper Coin suggests creating a general itinerary ahead of time and specifying what is an expected group activity and what's free time to pick and choose.

Incorporate local elements

Guests will be excited to experience the culture and traditions of your wedding destination, so don't miss a chance to showcase that whenever it's appropriate. For example, think about hiring some local entertainers for a surprise performance at the welcome party or the wedding's cocktail hour. "At a recent Aruba destination wedding, the couple surprised their guests with a performance by a local carnival dance group," Jenna Brisson of Jenna Brisson Photography told The List. "Then, immediately following the toasts, the performers surprised all of the couple's guests with an energetic and memorable dance routine that got everyone onto the dance floor and fully immersed in the experience."

Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group always recommends that couples incorporate local elements into their destination wedding details. Some ideas include a lei in their welcome bag (Hawaii), a tequila shot with their escort card (Mexico), a cigar rolling station at the reception (Dominican Republic), and a late-night taco truck (Mexico).