For many years, I’ve made it a point to talk to guests at the weddings that I have worked. Make no mistake, weddings are a big deal, especially to the couple getting married. But I think a lot of couples would be surprised to find out that, while your family and friends are pretty joyously happy for you, they are not typically as caught up in all of those details that you (okay, the bride) agonized over.
It seems that keeping them happy is a result of a lot of fairly LITTLE things done well. I suppose the flip side would be that it’s the little things that, if not so well thought out, might make them “less than happy”…but let’s keep this on the positive side, shall we?
Location, location, location (Part 1)
One of the really wonderful things about a wedding is that the ceremony can take place just about anywhere. At a church, at the beach, in a park, under your favorite tree, etc. You get the picture. The place you choose may be personal for you. Make sure that if you choose a place that is a little off the beaten path, you provide your guests with solid directions, maps, landmarks, signs, etc. GPS won’t help them find you if you are getting married under the fourth elm tree past the big rock.
Location, location, location (Part 2)
Even if you are choosing something more traditional, think about the guest’s experience. Are many coming in from out of town? How far is it from the hotels? Is there adequate parking? Would a shuttle make things a little easier on them? If alcohol is being served, there may be added incentive to providing some assistance with the driving.
Location, location, location (Part 3)
If the ceremony and reception sites are some distance from each other, there is another chance to get lost or run into traffic delays. Keep that in mind as you work on the time line for your wedding. And again, try to make it as easy as possible for your guests to find the place.
Long delays between ceremony and reception activities can have your guests twiddling their thumbs, so if it’s unavoidable, try to keep them engaged. It’s not reasonable to expect guests to wait hours for dinner without providing some type of nourishment to keep them going. Cheese and crackers are okay for an hour or so, but if it’s going to take longer than that for photographs, differences in the availability of the church and reception venue, etc, consider something a little more substantial. Your caterer or food manager will be able to make suggestions for you.
Also, think about both younger and older guests. If many children are invited, they will need some distraction, so give some thought to activities geared to them (and, as a totally personal aside: the DJ is not a babysitter.) For the older guests, if the main ballroom is not available during this time, you’re going to want to ask if there are places for them to sit while waiting.
Buy their drinks
Okay, at least buy SOME of their drinks. No, I’m not suggesting an unlimited open bar unless you have pretty unlimited finances (and if you do, have I got the DJ for you!) But there are various options, from beer and wine only, to a signature cocktail, to buying your own liquor to stock the bar if permitted by the contract. In most cases, your guests have made a pretty serious effort to dress their best, arrange their day around you and spend money on a gift. Dinner is nice, but it shouldn’t be the equivalent of BYOB.