Wedding Weekend Travel for the Adventurous Guest

Mountains in the distance with valleys and stormy clouds.

One of the best opportunities for travel in your young adult life will be wedding weekends. You will feel compelled to go to many weddings, even if your finances aren’t really ready for it or if work will be hellacious at that particular time. Make the cost and time worth it, add a mini vacation to the wedding weekend.

A young couple, in their thirties, pose for a portrait on the summit of a mountain.

We recently returned from a long weekend in Colorado, spent cherishing a dear friend and her lovely new husband. They got married on a beautiful Sunday afternoon just south of Rocky Mountain National Park. This gave us the opportunity to explore Denver, Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain National Park, and many of the other beautiful Colorado sights within an hour or two’s drive.

When is the Wedding?

One of my biggest travel tips: Stay in the “wedding hotel” the night before the wedding too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made the mistake of trying to check into the hotel the same night as the wedding (usually at 4PM), trying to get dressed really quick, and downstairs to get on the trolley or into an uber in time for a 5:30 wedding.

If you can, check into the hotel the day before the wedding. This will save time and you won’t be running around like crazy trying to check in at 4PM, get ready, and somehow get to a 5:30 wedding ceremony on time.

Save yourself the stress. Travel the day before the wedding and do not check into the hotel on wedding night! That stress can seriously ruin a trip, even if you make it to the wedding well-dressed and on time. Thankfully, we’ve never actually showed up late to a wedding, but there have been some close calls!

Friday Weddings

Depending on distance, Friday weddings are challenging for people. If it is anywhere you need to travel to, you basically have to take Friday off but it may be a challenge to justify taking Monday off work too. It really depends on how frequent you travel, what your employers’ attitude towards vacation time is, and quite frankly … your attitude towards the event.

One Friday wedding we’ve attended was a multi-day event. Wedding on Friday evening, wedding brunch on Saturday, and the couple’s send off Saturday afternoon. This was not a wedding where we were able to tack on some pleasure travelling but we love the couple, so it was okay.

If you can swing it, try to plan on two days for your vacation, arrive to the wedding destination a day early, and travel home on Sunday. Depending on the wedding location, that might mean taking Wednesday – Friday off. If it’s nearby, you can swing Thursday and Friday off.

Traveling on a Wednesday or Thursday is often cheaper than Friday-Sunday and more importantly, it can be less crowded. This is especially true for popular destinations.

Saturday Weddings

Small purple wildflowers with a vibrant yellow center.

Saturday weddings are the gold standard. That said, they cost more for the bride and groom (or her family) and aren’t the best for wedding guests hoping to make a vacation out of the weekend. These are great for family and friends who are a short drive away are only going for the wedding.

About half of the weddings we’ve attended in the past 5 years have been Saturday weddings. These were usually the weddings we were a part of, so we were often there Thursday – Sunday.

If we were attending just as guests, we would often take Friday or Monday off to add a day of vacation to simply make traveling to the festivities less hurried and more relaxed. There isn’t much time for exploring with a Saturday wedding unless you can take two days off work. If you can, I recommend taking Monday and Tuesday for your mini-vacay.

Monday travel is often very relaxed and less crowded than the rest of the week. However, before planning on a trip which hinges on Monday exploring, check that your planned destinations like museums, art galleries, or parks are open on Mondays. It’s a common “off day” in popular locations.

Sunday Weddings

Sunday afternoon weddings can be seen as an inconvenience by some (you basically have to take Monday off work if you’re traveling to celebrate with them), but to an ambitious traveller, Sunday weddings are a fabulous opportunity to take two or three days off work and really explore.

On our last wedding trip, the Colorado wedding weekend travel, we took Friday and Monday off work. We left very early on Friday, arriving in Denver by 9:30AM. We also took the red-eye flight home, arriving back on Tuesday at 6:30 AM. It was ambitious. We both got sick on Tuesday so, we may take Tuesday off next time to recover before jumping back into the work week.

The most relaxing day for us was actually Monday. I’m not sure if it is because our flight wasn’t until midnight and we had ALL DAY to explore or because all the “responsibilities” of being a good wedding guest were over. Whatever the reason, we spent the day at Rocky Mountain National Park and I can’t wait to go west again.

Weddings are stressful. Plan your travel so you can enjoy it!

For whatever the reason, the love and joy of weddings is often overshadowed by stress. Try and remember, your friends are inviting you to share in their joy. They likely chose a wedding location that has a lot of meaning to them and they want to share it with you. If you want to be a good wedding guest, go into the weekend with relaxed enthusiasm.

Mountains in the distance with valleys and stormy clouds.

Plan a mini-vacation for yourself and project the relaxation and happiness you experienced onto the wedding. There will be plenty of stress involved with the actual wedding party. Help relax the entire event by being a laid-back and happy guest who has already had a fabulous experience and are now, just there to celebrate.

Oh, and if you’re the type, always bring a mini sewing kit. You might save the day by fixing a shoe buckle or dress zipper.

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