Originally written by: Sharon Naylor
Edited by: Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Weddings Team Member
Extending your wedding day to an entire weekend where you spend time in Okoboji with loved ones makes getting married even more magical. Okoboji brides hosting out-of-town guests usually plan relaxing get-togethers and catch-up dinners for up to three days (if not more). But before you schedule that agenda, steer clear of the following hostess pitfalls.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #1: Not planning a welcome to Okoboji cocktail party.
As guests arrive in town after long car rides or flights, they’ll be hungry, thirsty and looking for you. If you skip this essential get-together in an effort to save money, you're setting guests up for potential disappointment.
Your Solution: Okoboji brides on a budget can still find ways to plan a casual welcome party without breaking the bank; even light fare will do the trick. If you've booked a fair amount of hotel rooms in your block, talk to the special events manager at the hotel about arranging a modest buffet at a discount. Or, try hosting a pizza party at your parents' lake house instead (send driving directions well in advance). If either of those options are still out of your price range, arrange to have welcome baskets with treats and beverages delivered to guests' hotel rooms shortly after they arrive.
An awesome welcome party for the Lakes area may be simply meeting on the beach for a day in the sun. Another idea may be going to one of the many places with free music like Boji Bay Fun House and Pavilion or Arnold’s Park Amusement Park.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #2: Planning too many wedding weekend events in Okoboji.
Guests' jaws will drop (and not in a good way) if you book every morning, noon and night of their weekend itinerary, barely alloting enough time for them to change outfits in between events. Although you might have the best intentions and want to treat guests to lots of enjoyable lake activities, they will only see an exhausting schedule ahead of them.
Your Solution: Limit yourself to a few, well-chosen events (perhaps one per day). Give guests what they truly want: Time to spend as they wish catching up with friends they haven't seen in a long time, relaxing at the beach, or enjoying some R&R with their spouse. Downtime is essential—both for them and for you.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #3: Not planning enough wedding weekend events in Okoboji.
On the flip side, you'll regret it later if you plan absolutely nothing during your wedding weekend. Guests will assume you're ultra-busy with wedding tasks and plan day trips of their own. With no scheduled events, you might have a hard time tracking down loved ones when you do want to spend time with them.
Your Solution: Again, plan one optional get-together for each day. Also feel free to encourage your parents to host their own events for relatives and their friends. There’s no rule saying everyone has to always be together as one big group—parents can plan their own soirée while you take your entourage out on the town.
There is so much to do in the Lakes area and your guests will want to see the places on their own. Let them be explorers and see the small shops themselves!
Wedding Weekend Mistake #4: Taking on too many DIY tasks that have to be done at the last minute.
DIY projects might save you money, but some (e.g. baking and making your own floral arrangements) must be done the night before—or worse, the day of the actual wedding. Trust us: You won't want to waste an entire weekend slaving over homemade cupcakes while everyone else is out having fun! Some brides may even resort to asking wedding guests to help them pull off these DIY projects.
Your Solution: Don't take on any do-it-yourself tasks that are too time-sensitive or beyond your experience. It's worth it to hire a professional in order to give yourself that priceless time with friends and family. And don't let relatives take on any DIY tasks that close to the event, either—let them enjoy the celebrations as well.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #5: Participating in dangerous Okoboji weekend activities.
Jet Skiing might sound like fun for your group, but you could scrape up your arms. Paintball outings may lead to big, ugly welts and bruises on your face, neck, and other body parts (even if you wear protective padding). Playing beach volleyball game could cause someone to twist an ankle, sending you—or your groom—down the aisle limping.
Your Solution: Sit out during any adrenaline-inducing activities, even seemingly-harmless ones like Ultimate Frisbee. You never know if a freak collision will blacken your eye or break your tooth! Be ultra-cautious at all of your Okoboji weekend events (no matter what they may be), to keep yourself in perfect condition for your wedding day and, later, your honeymoon.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #6: Skipping sunscreen.
Even on an overcast Okoboji day, you might get a terrible sunburn, which could spell disaster. Imagine the imprint of your tank top ruining the effect of your gorgeous gown or wincing in pain every time you break out a dance move or hug friends and family. Not worth it!
Your Solution: Make SPF a high priority. Slather yourself (and your groom) everywhere from ears to the tops of your feet, and reapply often. Don’t get distracted by the Okoboji fun you’re having and accidentally become lobster-red on your big day.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #7: Munching on bloating foods.
Potential nightmare scenario: While out with your friends, you can't help but indulge in a big, salty nachos platter. The next day your dress doesn’t fit, nor do your rings over your swollen fingers.
Your Solution: Swear off anything salty, including surprising culprits such as tomato sauce and salad dressings. Choose water-based foods like watermelon and celery as party pickings instead. And stay away from carbonated beverages as well—they can cause tummy bloating.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #8: Staying out all night with friends.
Yes, you haven’t seen your girls in forever and you want to take them out to the best Okoboji bars. But slacking on sleep will show (hello, under-eye bags and less-than-rosy complexion!) and you’ll be exhausted and grumpy for the remainder of the weekend.
Your Solution: The night before your wedding, think like Cinderella and make it home before midnight for optimal rest. Also avoid overdoing it with cocktails and late-night munchies.
Wedding Weekend Mistake #9: Not communicating last-minute news to guests.
If you’re having an outdoor beach wedding and an unexpected weather disaster hits, like a heavy rain or tornado, you need to let all of your guests know to go to your Plan B location. If you don’t have an organized plan in place, it’ll create utter chaos.
Your Solution: A few days before the wedding, tell guests that you will post a Plan B notification, if necessary, on your wedding website three hours before the ceremony is scheduled to begin. If an emergency occurs and you need to go with Plan B sooner than that, arrange to have a member of your bridal party call or text them the news. Don’t just send an email, since some people don’t check emails every hour (or even every day).
Wedding Weekend Mistake #10: Missing out on time with guests because of vendor meetings.
Several last-minute tasks have to be completed, and your wedding coordinator will surely want to connect with you. However, if you're booked up with vendor meetings, you’re either leaving fun parties early or missing them altogether.
Your Solution: Tell all of your vendors that the 48 hours before your wedding day is blocked off for your all-important family and friends time; meetings will have to take place before that cut-off point, which will help to put the planning behind you and unwind. If it's absolutely mandatory to meet the day prior to the wedding, make early-morning appointments so that you can get business done, then have the rest of the day to yourself.
In summary, Okoboji has a lot of activities to offer, be careful to select the right lake activities, wear sunscreen, spend time with guests and enjoy the natural ambiance Okoboji exudes!