Sunday, May 12, 2013

How do you do a destination wedding?

This is not a topic that I would normally write about but over the weekend became inspired when two friends of ours got married at Stanford Sierra Camp.   As my daughter taught me, when she got married, weddings are fundamentally a set of logistical events.  She was so well organized that she kept a massive three ring binder on all the details.   I am convinced that her vigilance made her wedding a memorable event but also kept costs down.    But as I thought about this weekend there were so many points where the couple paid attention to small details to make it superb.  But here are four details that made the event even more meaningful.

#1 - Location - find a place that can accommodate you and at the same time which has the opportunity for your guests to have lots of things to do.

Our location was in the Sierra and brought people together with good food and lots of outdoor activities.  On the first night we were there we had a "talent show" - which had a good range of talents - ranging from recitation to music of all types to a little humor.   Yesterday morning there was a not to strenuous hike up to some falls and for those who wanted to go a bit further.   The hiking group included all ages including a couple of people who were over 80.  Not everyone went - but for those who did not there was sailing on the lake and just relaxing.

#2 - Brand the Event and Personalize It.

The attention to detail on this event was incredible, beginning with the hold the date announcement.  When you signed up for the "Wedding Camp" you got a booklet back which had a schedule of events and other sorts of details.  Some gleaned from the normal SSC camper information and some unique to the event.   When each guest arrived there were two glasses and a bottle of wine that had been personalized for the wedding.   This morning, every mother received a rose with their name on it.  As you went into the reception area you saw a banner hanging over the fireplace which spelled out wedding camp.  Strewn around the central location were a couple of photo books with pictures of all of the people who were coming as well as some pictures of the couple.   There were also a couple of jigsaw puzzles from pictures of the couple then and now.  This morning a new puzzle appeared that said "Happy Mother's Day."

On the first night, to take advantage of the location, they did a cruise on a pontoon boat to gaze at the stars.  Without the normal light pollution that you have in a city - the sky is quite beautiful.

Every participant also got a Tshirt commemorating the event.   Because this was a camp event - the wedding cake was a S'mores cake - I spoke to the baker who had to do some ingenious baking to achieve the texture of that famous campfire food.  All those things made this event unique.

#3 - Make the meaningful parts of the ceremony for the couple - meaningful to the guests

This couple chose a non-religious ceremony and yet they included elements from Shabbot (the end of the Jewish Sabbath and the commencement of the week to come - and the wedding itself was late afternoon on a Saturday) and they also chose to use a Ketubah (which is a prenuptial agreement) which is not used much but helped to reinforce that a wedding is a serious event.   The couple chose to explain the significance of both the Shabbot (before we participated in it) and the Ketubah.   The Ketubah involved some levity (because part of the tradition in the contract is the dowery) but ultimately both ceremonies were treated with enough reverence to assure that all of us understood that this was not just a party.

#4 - Assure audience participation 

The talent show did that but so did the use of WEDPICS - a smartphone app which encouraged guests to snap pictures.  As I said yesterday - one friend who is a wedding photographer thought there would be a lot of crappy pictures but in reality the album from the wedding has a lot of shots that a normal wedding photographer would not capture.   The WEDPICS album is different but is really interesting - they compliment each other.

If you are planning a wedding soon or if you have a son or daughter that is likely to be married soon and is considering a destination wedding - you might want to start with these four principles - but if you are serious send me a note and I will give you details - they should write a book about how to bring all these elements together.

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