Your wedding day is meant to be the best day of your life, so why limit it to just 24 hours? After months of planning, many couples – including celebrities such as Olly Murs and Brooklyn Beckham – have chosen to spread their celebrations across a weekend.
But it’s not just a lavish option for the rich and famous. In fact, Rachel Allen, Founder of The Wedding Party, found that since the pandemic, there has been an 80 per cent decrease in guest numbers as couples prioritise longer weddings with fewer friends and family.
“Instead of the additional guests, 73 per cent of those couples chose to have a three-day celebration. Traditionally, this was reserved for our cultural wedding couples,” she explained.
Which celebrities have had three-day weddings?
Olly Murs was the most recent star to extend his wedding celebrations, which kicked off with a Friday-night welcome barbecue attended by 71 friends and family members, followed by a ceremony on Osea Island in the Blackwater Estuary and culminating in a festival dubbed “Murs Fest” with 70 more friends.
He was not the first star to do so. In 2022, Jennifer Lopez was pictured looking glamorous ahead of her rehearsal dinner, before walking down the aisle at Ben Affleck’s home in three further bridal gowns. A post-wedding Sunday brunch with pastries and a baby blue theme finished off the weekend with style.
It was a very similar format to David Beckham’s son Brooklyn and his wife Nicola Peltz’s big day in 2021. Guests gathered for a rehearsal dinner the night before their ceremony at the Peltz family estate, before heading to a Sunday brunch the following day – all with a bridal white theme.
Why are three-day weddings becoming so popular?
If you need any more convincing to plan a multi-day wedding, then listen to the industry experts, who have opened up about the benefits of a weekend-long celebration.
Roberta Burcheri, Lead Wedding Planner at Roberta Burcheri Events, said that couples often lose track of time on their big day and they want to spend longer with their friends and family, especially those who have travelled long distances.
It also prevents you from having to “squeeze everything in the same day, leaving you exhausted,” as activities can be stretched out across several days. Drawing from her own personal experience planning her big day, Roberta added that she loved the idea of celebrating in different countries with multiple outfits!
“My fiancé is Swedish so we really wanted to host part of our wedding celebrations in Sweden, however, I run my family wedding venue in North Hertfordshire, Offley Place which of course has a special place in our hearts – this way we are able to host our wedding in both places!
“Different settings also lend themselves to completely different backgrounds for your photos – our venue in Sweden is in the middle of the city of Stockholm but Offley Place will offer the perfect English garden setting.
“Of course, another benefit to different events is different outfits, the couple can choose different outfits and even different levels of formality in attire. If you have always wanted a black tie event but aren’t sure whether it is something that your whole guest list will feel comfortable with, this would be a great option for a more intimate dinner and you can reserve a more casual dress code for your larger celebration,” she said.
According to Wedding Planner Emma Murray-Jones, it also takes the pressure off your main wedding day. You have more opportunities to connect with your guests and you can ensure everyone has had the chance to meet and mingle to get the awkwardness out of the way before the wedding.
“You are more likely to take funny photos in the photo booth or throw shapes on the dancefloor with someone you have chatted to the night before and enjoyed meeting – rather than someone you have just met that day.
“With a pre-wedding event, everyone can meet with each other, laugh and get to know each other – and then properly enjoy your wedding day!” she said.
How to plan a multi-day wedding
There are many ways you can execute a multi-day wedding, but the traditional format is welcome drinks on the first night, followed by the ceremony the following day and a final afterparty to end the celebrations before people leave.
Roberta suggested starting with a cocktail reception and a laid-back rehearsal dinner on Friday, and finishing with a relaxed “after-wedding brunch, pool party, or some sort of decompression activity.”
Rachel said that couples can take the opportunity to get rid of the pomp and ceremony of their big day and make it more relaxed – perhaps with a welcome barbeque at a home setting.
Touching on finances, she continued: “On our planning platform we have seen the budgetary elements take a real shift in 2023, in including more catering costs, and allowing for guests to pay a small minimal fee for accommodation to stay for the weekend and a growth in the ‘bring a bottle’ invitations.
“Day three becomes about having the after party, opening gifts, informal photography and the wind down after the event, which is having such a positive effect on the come down after the day.”
If you’re looking for something a little different, Nazlee Sabahipopur, Director at Offley Place Country House, said having a separate civil ceremony in a town hall can feel less restrictive. However, Emma’s top tip was to keep the same location for your second and third days, stating: “You can reuse the flowers from the night before!”
What are the biggest challenges of a three-day wedding?
Hosting multiple days of celebrations doesn’t come without its challenges – both financial and logistical.
“It’s best to leave a lot of room for flexibility in the itinerary than to try to fill every hour of the multi-day wedding.
“A multi-day wedding is naturally going to have extra costs and there will be a lot more to juggle when planning, which is the reason why many couples hire a wedding planner,” said Roberta.
Nazlee similarly added that there will be a lot of extra work behind the scenes, but it’s ultimately worth it.
“You’ll potentially be looking at two different timelines perhaps with two different lists of suppliers. A wedding is challenging enough to plan – chasing RSVPS, organising the table plans and managing the budgets – a multiple-day wedding will certainly add to the workload, but it will definitely give your guests something special to enjoy and remember,” she stated.