Yes, your wedding is about you, but it’s also about your guests – and their mood and happiness on your big day can affect your happiness, too. If they’re unhappy, it can put a real dampener on your own enjoyment, so here are a few things (most) weddings guests hate.
An inconvenient location
It truly is lovely that you’re holding your wedding reception at the remote farm house in the middle of nowhere where you grew up, but is it somewhere most of your guests can get to? OK, that’s an extreme example, but if you’re holding your wedding somewhere no one can get to without considerable effort, taking time off or booking flights and accommodation, consider the impact on guests. If it’s a truly out-of-the-way location, opt for a reception venue that’s easy to get to by road or public transport and within a reasonable distance of the local airport if a large continent of guests will be travelling from out of town.
Being unclear about the dress code
Providing no dress code is as unclear as providing one that says “dress as you wish” or “surprise us” (which can be a dangerous decision in itself) – and it’s one of the most oft-quoted things guests hate about weddings! Be sure to outline the dress code clearly so that your guests won’t end up being over-dressed or under-dressed or, worse still, embarrassed by their choice of outfit.
But where do I sit?
You’ll have spent ages sorting out the seating plan. Great, but how do your guests know their spot? You need a clear and accessible seating plan both on a board where people can look for themselves and on a clipboard where the ushers/compere can easily locate a person and their table. Don’t have guests wandering around the venue looking for their name tag on a table.
It’s not musical chairs
When the music stops, everyone needs their own chair. It’s far better to have too many chairs as opposed to too few. Double check to make sure nobody is left standing and, even if it’s a cocktail wedding where such things are expected, be sure to have ample seating for those who need seats, such as guests with back problems or those who are elderly.
Trim those speeches
Many weddings feature someone who doesn’t know that brevity is the soul of wit. Have a chat with everyone who is to make a speech. Stress that they are not to speak forever. You or your partner will know the person. If it means giving them a time limit, do so. If they have a written speech, ask them if they’ve timed it. Guests get cranky very quickly when someone thinks the sound of their voice is something to behold.
If your reception venue is a little tricky to find, you don’t want your guests pulling out their hair because they can’t find the place. Offer guests simple directions. Even consider having a friend out at the important crossroad, pointing guests in the right direction or propping up the odd balloon-festooned sign or two. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to include a map with your wedding invitations.
Earplugs are optional
It doesn’t matter how old your wedding guests are, they need to be able to hear themselves think. Not everyone will be dancing. Many guests want to chat with someone on their table. But if the volume from the band is such that conversation is impossible, your guests will not be happy campers. Either hire brilliant acoustic musicians or TURN DOWN the volume.
Strange seating plans
Yes, it can be tricky putting everyone on a table where they will be happy. But at least try. If someone is a rabid football fan or a person with particularly strong political views of a certain persuasion, don’t seat them next to someone who hates everything that other guest does or believes. You or your partner should spend time to get the best seating arrangement for your guests so that they have as much fun as you’re going to.
What’s written on the invitation?
Again it can be tricky but if you are inviting cousin Sue and you’re not sure if she’s in a relationship, and, if so, with whom, ask. ‘Sue and Friend’ can be hurtful if Sue and Stu have been dating for the last 18 months. Just take a little time to get things just right and make your guests happy to come to your wedding. Finding ‘Sue’s Partner’ on the place card is not a good look.
Pay for your drinks
You may think this is a good way to stop your guests getting drunk or, perhaps, your budget doesn’t stretch far enough to pay for oodles of alcohol at your wedding reception. Either way, having a cash bar – without warning guests – is a sure fire way to upset some of your guests. Instead, offer a limited range of drinks and have that clearly spelled out on a sign, or have the MC announce this when all guests are assembled. Just avoid putting guests in a position where they’re unclear as to whether they have to stump up for drinks, especially if they don’t have (enough) cash on them!
Expect the unexpected
You can’t control certain things with the weather being one of them. Obviously you’ll be watching forecasts as the big day draws nigh. But be prepared for bad weather. If that means a supply of umbrellas or a temporary covered way, then have things in train. Your guests won’t blame you for the rain, but they’ll certainly love you for making their passage around the venue a safe and dry one.
Let people know about your wedding date as early as possible by sending out Save the Date cards – or your actual wedding invitation in a timely fashion. That allows them time to take off, if need be or, if you’re having a child-free wedding, it gives them time to arrange a babysitter. The more notice the better!
And while it’s true that all the above are good mistakes to avoid, there are also many positive things you can do to make your guests thrilled to be a part of your wedding. Don’t forget to accentuate the positive.