bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah planning guide
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Out-Of-Towner's Guide
If you expect guests from out-of-town to share the Bar/Bat Mitzvah's or wedding couple's special moments, consider the following:

Reserve early! Even if no holiday is apparent on your date, hotels fill up because of conventions, retreats, etc.
Hotel rooms are usually reserved in blocks. Some charge fees to reserve. This can be especially helpful if you have a number of guests arriving during a period when hotels are busy.
Consider reserving rooms at two or more hotels for convenience and different price levels.
A small "welcome package" from the host family is a nice touch to make out-of-town guests feel at home. Hotels can arrange these for a fee, or you can package them inexpensively and the hotel will usually distribute them for free. Contents can include snacks, kosher foods, home baked goods, toys and cards for children, soda, fruits, momentos, etc. Flowers for the room are also a nice touch.
A shuttle service is a convenient way to transport guests unfamiliar with local roads to the synagogue or simcha site, especially for an evening event. Check with hotels for airport shuttles. You could arrange ride­sharing for guests renting cars and staying at the same hotel and/or arriving at the same time. Also check into transportation companies who offer packages or hourly rates. See Transportation tips on page 30 of our guide.

Send a "save the date" postcard to out-of-towners 6-10 months in advance to assure that other plans won't conflict with your special day.
Include a map and directions for all activities during the day or weekend. Directions should cover from the hotel(s) to the synagogue, and, if applicable, to the function hall. Try photocopying a local map to locate the synagogue with location circled. and are helpful web sites.

Family Activities
Additional activities add another dimension to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah or wedding experience and allow opportunities to enjoy relatives and friends that you may not see frequently.
Consider the following:

If your child is becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah on Saturday Morning, invite guests to the synagogue on Friday night to enjoy the service and Oneg Shabbat. This also applies to the Ufruf before the wedding.
Family portraits can be arranged at home, at the reception site, or synagogue.
A "morning after" brunch is a delightful way to wrap up the simcha and allow families and friends to be together one more time.

You may wish to schedule appointments for manicures, hair, and make-up appointments for your guests who will not be familiar with the area.
Consider a web site for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah or the wedding couple that includes weekend and hotel information, online RSVP, printable driving instructions, explanations for non-Jewish guests, and much more. Photos can be posted here after the event, as well as thanks, thoughts and reflections, and personal messages
An agenda of weekend activities sent with the invitations will help guests schedule flights or travel plans, help them plan what to pack, and add to the excitement of traveling.
If guests may have some extra time to get out and explore, include brochures or contact information for popular sightseeing destinations in the invitation or a subsequent mailing.

Save The Date Poem.
Here's a cute idea for a Save The Date reminder card, courtesy of Claudia Pletter of It Could Be Verse (732-679-8093):

We want you to know what we have in store, Lasting memories, fun, celebrations and more.
It all begins, Friday evening at 8:00,
At Congregation Beth Shalom...please don’t be late.

Saturday morning…the B’nai Mitzvah will take place, Your seat is reserved…we’re saving your space.
Then off to the party at the Radisson,
For great food, dancing and lots of fun.

From 9:00AM ‘til noon, the following day, We’ll be having brunch before you go on your way! At the Radisson…if it is your whim, They have a pool, if you’d like to swim.

We’ll wine you and dine you, the whole
weekend through, We’re getting excited...
can’t wait to see you!

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