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The Wedding Experience: From A Guest Perspective

We recently had the good fortune to be guests at several weddings of friends of ours.  Working in the wedding industry doesn’t always afford us the opportunity to see the end result and it was really fun to be a guest and not just a vendor!

We thought a great blog would be to tell you some of the feedback we hear from the guests when the wedding is over (returning tuxedos, preserving the dress, etc.),  as well as some of our own thoughts on how to make sure your guests have a great experience.

The Ceremony:

All of these weddings were lovely.  Not only a beautiful locations, but they all started ON TIME.  That was amazing! Loved that! Please don’t be fashionably late on your wedding.

After your ceremony, is there a delay until the reception?  If there is, how long is it?  If it is more than a couple of hours, consider having something for your guests to do, or a place to go to wait and have some food.  The delay we experienced was hours long and hard to fill.

Cocktail Hour:

How many guests are coming – and what will cocktail hour look like? What kind of layout is there, and will the lines be long? How much food is there, will they run low or out?

At two of the weddings, the food was everywhere! At another one, they ran out very quickly at cocktail hour (the unhappiest guests are the unfed ones).

Are there tables or enough seating areas? Standing to eat, along with a drink in hand, is impossible.  Make sure your guests have plenty of places to put their plates and drinks down.

Is the bar open? How many bartenders will you have?  Make sure there are enough to eliminate long lines.

Is there a photo op area? Or a photobooth? This is a fun way for your guests to capture the day. One of the weddings we went to had a flower wall that was a really neat backdrop!

The Reception:

Place Cards – You may think the tiny, scripted font looks beautiful, but it is exceptionally hard for some guests to read. (My personal experience at one wedding: I walked around a circular table three times picking up cards to see what letter we were at. I thought the S was a J so I walked around to the other side to find the F that I thought was a T so back to the other side… it was awful.)  Please, consider a more readable font, especially if you have a large number of guests.

For other seating arrangements, do this task with the mindset of how to make it easy for your guests to find their place.

Music – Consider doing a sound check for the toasting and dinner portions. Read that again and give it even more consideration.

One wedding I felt was somewhat ruined by the noise level, and I know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.  The emcee was shouting into the microphone to introduce the wedding party, and we still couldn’t hear anything because the band was playing so loud. It was just yelling over incredibly loud music and none of the guests could understand or hear the names and many guests had their hands covering their ears. Make sure the band understands the acoustics of the room and does a sound check!

Toasts – Advice to anyone at your wedding giving a toast:   speak slowly and speak up.  These speeches are amusing for sure, but filled with “inside jokes” that most of your guests don’t understand so while the toast giver may be nervous, it is a definite plus if they can be heard and understood.  Also…

Limit the speeches. We were at one where there were six.  Not only did we not understand any of them because we couldn’t hear, it took forever. We noticed even the wait staff seemed frustrated because they didn’t know when to start serving. Perhaps do some at the rehearsal dinner if you have that many.

Dinner – Whatever the food, please consider dinner music.  In the background.  Please.  When the band blares during dinner, none of your guests can talk to each other. After dinner, heck yes turn up the volume! But during dinner when guests are trying to speak with each other, consider having the music at a level that encourages that.

Personal note: One of the events we attended had lovely dinner music and it really set a nice tone to the evening and we were able to speak to many of the guests. Getting to know them definitely added to the fun once the music did get turned up and the party was fantastic!

Greetings – Depending on the size of  your wedding, speaking to everyone at length may not be possible, but definitely make a point to go to each table and greet ALL of your guests.  Also, if the bride or groom has never met someone at your wedding, be sure to make the introduction!

Favors – Personally, I have mixed feelings on favors. While I love the idea and some are so creative and special, many are left on the tables. I always feel bad when I think someone went to the trouble and so many are just thrown away.  If someone has a better idea  other than favors, or a favor no one would leave behind, I’d love to hear it.

Thank You Notes – Etiquette says that your guests have a year to send a gift and I am one of those people who actually sends one after the wedding.  It’s hard to wait a year to send a thank you note, however, give a little bit of time (maybe a few months?) to see if something will arrive from a guest who did not bring a gift on your day. Maybe something will show up at your home from your registry or even a personalized gift 🙂

Your wedding is the biggest party you will throw and you want to make sure your guests remember it for the great parts. Ask friends and co-workers about weddings they have gone to where something could have been done better or what was great about it – you could gain some more insight to wow your guests! Hopefully this blog was a good start!

 

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