From the moment wedding guests receive their invitations, they quite rightly expect to have an amazing time celebrating your special day. Because your guests put in so much effort (not to mention their generous gifts), brides and grooms should always strive to do whatever they can to keep wedding attendees happy all day and all night long. Here are 8 tips that can help make you the ultimate hostess and host.
Keep it Convenient
If you have your wedding ceremony and reception in different locations, don’t make guests travel too far for the party. This is even more important if you have numerous out-of-towners attending. Regardless, try your best to have both the ceremony and reception in the same place — or at least within walking distance. Also, don’t let too much time lapse between the ceremony and reception, as guests end up either wandering around to kill time, or have to go home and then get too comfy to want to get up and go again.
Skip the Receiving Line
If you can, skip the receiving line. Yes, there are spouses who have 400 people at their wedding and want to make sure they have one on ones with each and every person, and a receiving line is indeed a way to effect that. Still, they’re impersonal. I say, if you can avoid making people wait in a long line for what constitutes small talk mixed with flattery? Give your guests a break and forget it. People are anxious to let loose and party after the formal ceremony, so don’t hold them back any longer than necessary — let the fun begin as soon as possible! You can do your rounds table-by-table; even if you have many tables, a quick-but-sincere thank you at each stop will surely make everyone feel touched by your gesture.
A big no-no is making your guests spend (more) money at your wedding. Asking them to pay for parking, or having a cash bar? Poor taste. Guests should be treated as guests and should not think about carrying money to an event they are invited to. Of course, sometimes, there is simply no budget for things like alcohol. In this case, don’t have a bar at all — or have a day wedding, when guests consume a whole lot less alcohol.
Food + Friends = Fun
Seat people with people they already know, so there is no uneasiness and conversation is always flowing. Forget about trying to create new friendships, or setting up your single friends. Let everyone enjoy the wedding; play match-maker another time.
Yes, yes, there must be speeches. But keep them short and sweet. The Best Man may be tempted to tell a lifetime story about his buddy, but others in the room may not care to hear 20 years of highlights. When asking your speakers to represent, tell them that the ideal length is less than 3 minutes, as you don’t want them to stress or spend too much time on preparing. Still, some speakers will insist on a long speech; try to steer these types towards a spot at the rehearsal dinner, which is more intimate and reserved for family and very close friends.
Arrange for a block of rooms at a few hotels that offer a discount to guests booking under a named wedding group. By offering a description and hotels of different price ranges, your guests will be very grateful that you thought about them and wanted to make their stay as comfortable, and affordable, as possible. Make sure you include this info on a separate card with your invitation. Another thing out of towners appreciate is when you let them know what to do during their stay. Offering a small topline guide on what to do in your city will be greatly appreciated, as it saves them guesswork and eliminates both stress and needless expense.
Put thought into your wedding favours. Don’t settle for just anything in order to say that you gave something. There is no point in giving out a token that will be left behind, or having guests ask, “What am I going to do with this?” Give something that will be enjoyed or be useful. Chocolate, for example, is loved by everyone; flip flops for a beach wedding are useful and would be appreciated.
A Night to Remember — For Everyone
Of course, all brides and grooms strive for the basic essentials — great venue, incredible food, gracious service, lively and super music and entertainment, etc. But don’t forget, most of your guests have been to many weddings (as have you): everyone gets tired of cookie-cutter events that have no sense of personalization or uniqueness. To keep things interesting, I always make sure that there are special, personal touches that make that wedding stand out. I can’t tell you what to do — because it has to come from you. If it does, you will know it, and your guests will too.
The easiest way to make your wedding great for your guests? When planning your special day, put yourself in the shoes of your guests. Think of what they go to be a part of your day. Ask yourself how you can make it the most comfortable, most enjoyable and most memorable for them.
Rita Wong is a wedding and events planner and owner of Rita Wong Events. Based in Montreal, she also plans many weddings every year for brides living in Toronto and abroad. She is a dedicated follower of new trends and her goal is to give each bride a wedding that is fresh, unique, and a personal reflection of who they are.