Wherever in the world you’re tying the knot, you’ll want to remember one key thing: learning how to infuse local culture into your wedding will elevate the guest experience more than anything else. You and your loved ones are traveling far + wide to celebrate in a unique locale. Perhaps it’s a place with special significance for you and your partner. Maybe it’s the paradise destination you’ve been dreaming of for years now. Or it may be that you chose this particular spot because of how dynamic it is as both a wedding destination and vacation spot. You didn’t land on this location by accident. And the same amount of care + consideration that went into the selection of the destination should go into finding those special ways to immerse your guests in the culture once they are there.
Below are a handful of our favorite ways to infuse local culture into your wedding, so get ready to dive in!
1. Signature crest or motif
You’ve seen these handcrafted wedding crests or custom motifs around. They’re always eye caching, always next level and always a perfect way to give your guests a preview of what’s to come from the very first save-the-date. Not only is this approach a perfect supplement to your ultimate wedding “brand”, it is a wonderfully subtle way to give your loved ones just a taste of the venue or the flowers or the cuisine.
2. A Wedding Website that builds anticipation
As your guests get a taste of the destination through your paper goods, keep the anticipation building with the website! These days, you can add just about anything from images to videos to playlists even. So think about how you can create an experience in the website alone. Can you create your own curated playlist of tunes that represent the wedding style and destination? Can you share some local recipes for them to try at home in the lead up? How bout a list of films featuring that locale to enjoy + inspire the month before. Could you create a packing list with a link to some of your favorite shops in the destination as well (maybe you want to recommend your favorite sandal artisan in Capri, so you can tell them to leave one pair at home!)? What about sharing your favorite candle scents that remind you of the country you’ll all be going to in due time? There’s no reason you can’t personalize your wedding website in a way that hasn’t been done before, so get your creative energy cooking!
3. Immersive accommodations
Of course, it’s always a treat when your venue can double as accommodations for everyone. You see this a lot with chateaus and country estates in France, villas in Italy and mountain resorts in California for example. Not only does this help you from a logistical perspective, it automatically creates a more relaxed tone since guests don’t have to worry so much about transport and timing. There’s nothing like ending the night with leisure around a fire pit, everyone moseying off to bed whenever they’re ready to go and rejoining the fun for a casual breakfast the next day. Plus, it keeps everyone immersed in YOUR scene for that much longer!
4. Curated welcome gift
Once your guests arrive, there’s nothing as thoughtful as a welcome gift awaiting them in their room. Particularly when that welcome gift is filled with goodies from local artisans. Some of our go-to’s here in Charleston might just be Callie’s Biscuit Mix, Cannonborough sodas and custom Candlefish scents to name a few! Or for Provence, maybe it’s lavender sachets, mini ceramic dishes or even rosé from the winery nearby. You can get creative with the presentation as well, considering what textures are prevalent in your wedding’s region and how that can come into play. Sweetgrass has a major history in Lowcountry, so you can bet this is always a good idea for the gift basket packaging itself.
5. Inspired itineraries + Auxiliary Events
We’re all for group activities during the destination wedding week! Whether you partake in the fun with your guests, or you have private surprises planned for your bridal party (did someone say pasta making class?), giving your loved ones a heads up about the treasures your destination holds goes a long way. You can share details on your website about recommended hot spots for eats, drinks and general to-do’s, or you can take it one step further and have your paper goods partner design a custom weekend itinerary that’s placed in their welcome basket so that once they arrive, they have an artistic point of reference for these recommendations and any other group excursions they are welcome to join.
Plus, a unique destination is the perfect excuse to host multiple events beyond the wedding day itself, like a welcome dinner or post-wedding brunch!
One of the biggest gifts of destination weddings is the gift of time. You have a much more ample opportunity to see them, greet them, and enjoy those moments of quality time across multiple days so on the wedding day itself, you can be present with your new spouse most of all. When couples look back and say they feel like it went by in a flash, it’s because they spent 2.5 out of the 4 reception hours they had “making the rounds” with barely a chance to sit with their partner and reflect on the events the day… and just be in it in general!
6. Get creative with transport
Trust us, getting there can be just as much a part of the fun! We’ve seen it all – guest pickups in classic cars you’d see in a 007 film to take each party from their French village lodging to the chateau ceremony… horseback rides along the beach to that perfect spot… gondolas sailing gently through the Venetian canals. The sky is often the limit with wedding transpiration for yourself and your guests. So make it a part of the experience if you can! Nothing will knock them off their socks like this… they’d never expect this attention to detail!
7. Unique wedding entertainment
The possibilities are endless. Yes, music is a big one, but the buck doesn’t stop there! You might consider Italian folk dancers in Puglia, fire dancers in Bali, a zaffa sequence in Dubai or even a junkanoo performance in the Bahamas.
One of our favorite travel memories involves being in Dublin on St. Patty’s Day back in 2015 and totally stumbling upon a hole-in-the-wall pub where trad music was at play. Equal parts concert and tradition, a dozen locals were playing in the corner with their own folk instruments. It was all a spontaneous production, a learn as you go performance, and everyone in the place was totally entranced in this knee-slapping, foot-thumping serenade. You can bet this significant memory might have an impact on our late night musical surprise for an event at Kilruddery House in Ireland for example!
As far as music is considered, there’s nothing like a good mariachi band, gospel choir, steel drum troupe or french gypsy jazz quartet to surprise + delight everyone! There’s perhaps no better way to get your guests feeling “all in” than a performance or spectacle they would never in a million years experience otherwise. Something that reminds them they’re not in Kansas anymore *wink wink*
8. Local wedding traditions
Similar to the entertainment approach, researching local traditions surrounding weddings can be such a fun way to spice up your ceremony and make it that much more personal to you, while also keeping your guests engaged and present. For example, in Mexico, the minister will often drape a string of rosary beads + petals around the couple’s shoulders in the form of a Figure 8 while they are exchanging their vows to represent their infinite bond. Indian ceremonies will often last multiple days with dozens of traditions including the ritual called saptapadi which follows offerings being made into the agni or sacred fire. The bride and groom take seven vows, sealing the marriage forever and no traditional Hindi wedding is complete without these vows, often spoken in Sanskrit. Then you have Grecian ceremonies, which often include a tradition called “The Crowning.” Two crowns are attached by a single ribbon, and they are placed on the couple’s heads as a blessing that they shall be the king and queen of their home from this moment forth.
9. Embrace the food + wine of the region
Now we’re talking! The foodie in you probably had this in mind when choosing the destination itself, but it’s worth bearing in mind once again. Incorporating local + seasonal ingredients is a surefire way to have your guests feeling like Anthony Bourdain himself prepared the iconic meal. It gives them the perfect opportunity to mingle + nosh over the best dishes this region has to offer, all whilst enjoying the finest sips that pair effortlessly with each culinary offering.
10. Nuanced design details
We believe in intentional design and will go so far as bringing in textures that hark back to a certain passion or chapter of the bride/groom’s lives if it fits the setting and wedding mood. So you can bet brainstorming the ways we can tie in subtle nods to the destination is a step in our internal design process too! Could you adorn each place setting with a locally made favor? Could you use textiles created in the village itself on the tablescape or add a local vintage ribbon to your bouquet? How bout sourcing vessels and other decor from the local flea markets (this one’s one of our faves in France btw!)? Taking your destination wedding to the next level is a pinch, see?
We hope that you’ve found these tips for how to infuse local culture into your wedding absolutely invaluable today. As you search for direction and inspiration, remember nothing informs your wedding details better than your personal experiences, passions, memories and the space in which you’re celebrating this new chapter of your life. It now holds a new level of significance too.
Til we meet again!