This is going to be a somewhat different blog...mainly because I've been thrown into planning a wedding--my wedding--and due to past experience, I've learned that just sending out invites and hoping your out of town guests show up is simply not the way to go.
This goes hand in hand with my previous entry about how important it is to know where you live...but it's not just about knowing what there is to do, where to eat and drink and how to choose the best hotel, it's about sharing that information. In this case, with your wedding guests.
Your first order of business should be to put together a wedding website. I used The Knot because it has a few more options than, say, Wedding Wire, but to each his or her own. I knew that I wanted our wedding site to be more than just the bare bones of "the ceremony is here at this time, the reception is here at this time, here's the hotel we suggest"--so while we of course included the usual pages on ceremony and reception times, locations, and directions, we also put together a "Staying and Playing" page. This page not only includes information on the hotels where we have our room blocks, but a list of nearby airports as well as descriptions of our favorite restaurants and bars and other things to see and do in the general Greenville area. It took a little extra time, but I'm happy to report that I've had numerous people say that they are actually excited to come check out Greenville and all of the great places I mentioned on that page. This feels good--even though this is an awesome little city and we love it here, it's not like we live in some great tourist destination a la NYC, Boston, or even Charleston or Savannah.
Another thing we spent some time on was researching and deciding on hotel room blocks. Obviously we wanted the hotel or hotels that were most convenient to the ceremony and reception location; unfortunately, these are not exactly the least expensive hotels in the area, so even though we reserved two blocks we are also providing information on other nearby hotels that may have cheaper rates. Of course, it's important for guests to know how these less expensive and less convenient hotels will effect their budget once they consider the possibilities of having to rent a car and/or paying taxi fares to get around.
Finally, as much as I hate to admit this and ruin the surprise, I have to express my excitement at the out of town bags we are putting together for our guests! I won't say what they include, but we will definitely be filling them with things such as snacks, bottled drinks, a map of downtown Greenville, a schedule of planned wedding activities, and a list of restaurants and bars similar to what is posted on our Knot page.
Basically, the point is that people will probably be spending a lot of money to get to your wedding, and who wants to leave their guests with a sour taste in their mouths? You don't necessarily have to plan activities for everyone (although we are--bachelor/bachelorette parties will be two nights before the wedding; there will be a Southern-style barbecue at our home in lieu of a fancy [and pointless] rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding; and then of course the wedding itself will take up most of the afternoon, evening, and night the day of), but at least make sure that your guests know there are things to do other than twiddle their thumbs in the hotel room and wait for The Big Event.