Here comes the bride, all dressed in white, and all eyes are on her – ideally. The reality is your wedding guests are an easily distracted herd, they might be thirsty, hungry or even find the music annoying.
Take it from me. In my short 24 years, I have attended a total of 30 weddings – unbelievable, I know. I’m somewhat of a self-titled “expert wedding guest”, this was in part due to my large extended family, my very wedding-positive groups of friends and being naturally quite a social creature.
But attending all those weddings has presented me with a certain set of skills when it comes to discerning what will make or break a wedding for your guests. What makes a wedding something your guests will have nothing but compliments for instead of grumbling about later on.
A common mistake couples make is assuming “if my guests love me and my partner, they should be happy to attend my wedding no matter what”. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. You did invite a small army of people, after all.
The following are some tips on how to make certain your temperamental guests are looked after, and to take your wedding guest’s experience from good to fantastic. (Spoiler alert: It’s not exotic flowers or delicate signage).
Clearly lay out what is to come.
Be it a schedule, a time frame or loose outline, it is wonderful to know how long things are expected to take. This comes in handy when, if you choose take time to indulge in eloquent and drawn out speeches, your more easily distracted guests can keep in mind that cocktail hour is drawing near.
Give your guests something to do while you inevitably take photos after the ceremony and before the reception.
Don’t get us wrong, we want you to have lasting photographic memories of the most wonderful day of your life, but in the meantime do we have to make small talk with your odd uncle for two hours on an empty stomach? The best weddings I’ve attended provide their guests light refreshments right after the ceremony and maybe even a cocktail (or two).
Create a guest book people can have some fun with.
I ask this in earnest, do you really only want a book full of people’s names that is similar to a ship log or museum visitor ledger? Set up a photo or video guest book instead where they can get creative with their well wishes! Or, if that’s too pricey, get them to write a funny or heartfelt piece of advice.
Play any other game than the shoe game during the reception.
Don’t get me wrong, wedding games are a hoot to watch and great way to entertain the masses, but there are so many better ones than the shoe game. Please don’t make your guests politely laugh at this, unless your questions are extraordinarily hilarious (which, frankly, they usually aren’t).
Choose the right MC.
When you’ve chosen right it’s really right and when you’ve chosen wrong – everyone groans. My best advice is to vet your MC and make sure they are genuinely funny, but mostly can keep the night moving. Remove any and all ball and chain, coffin, and “who will do the cooking?” jokes from their intended script, when possible. Good luck.
Give your guests a chance to say “Hi” to you.
You are the main event and many have traveled from far and wide to celebrate you. You are guaranteed to warm some hearts by visiting each table for a quick hello. Plus, it feels kind of weird if you don’t.
Pick someone to DJ other than your second cousin.
I’m sure Jimmie does have an amazing summer playlist, but it’s guaranteed not to keep the party going all night. Leave that to the professionals, pretty please, and let Jimmie dance the night away instead. Plus, there’s less chance of any technical difficulties arising during the first dance.
Provide the mysterious basket full of everything a guest could need in the bathroom.
I don’t know what magical wedding fairy godmother first invented this idea, but I send her my thanks. In a pinch, that deodorant, hair spray, mints, and various other emergency items can really come in handy. Plus, it just makes your guests feel considered.
Plan for a mid-dance snack.
This all hangs on if the wedding couple wants a big dance party, but assuming they do, a dance floor snack is one of the most delightful things to suddenly appear. Especially if it comes from a food truck.
Choose edible wedding favours.
An engraved candle is a stunning gift, (and maybe this is just me) but chocolate and candies will always trump that. It delights both the children at the wedding and the kids who live inside all of us.