Something I was told over and over again when we were planning our wedding, was that ‘you can’t please everyone’.
And while I’d like to think all our guests loved our day, I’m sure there were a few comments among them about some of our choices.
Your day is primarily about you and your other half, with of course, your immediate family and very close friends in mind for key decisions.
But here is one of my very few pet wedding peeves; couples saying that their day should be “all about them”.
Of course your day is about you, it’s your wedding after all, it should be a reflection of your personalities, and feel authentic to you and your life together. But don’t forget it’s a party, and you are the host. And just as you’d try to please your guests in your home, you should do your best to make them comfortable at your wedding too.
That doesn’t mean serving six kinds of mains at dinner or holding your wedding in your local hotel, but it does mean not having your 70-year-old aunt trek up a mountain at sunrise for your dawn clifftop ceremony. (Maybe keep it intimate for that one, or at least provide trucks for the less-able!)
So can you keep all your guests happy on your wedding day? My answer? Mostly!
Even the people who balk at your ‘best woman’ or your humanist ceremony before your big day, will love it once they see it all come together. But they won’t be as forgiving if they’re left hungry or cold. It’s a matter of considering their needs, rather than their opinions.
So to help guide you through the more tricky moments of hosting your guests, we’ve teamed up with Kacey Mya Bradley of The Drifter Collective to share her best tips.
Over to you Kacey…
So you’re getting married and of course, you want to make sure everyone who attends your wedding is happy, and loving every minute, but you also have to think about what will make you happy too.
Here are ways you can do your best to keep everyone happy at your wedding without compromising on your own vision for your big day.
If you have a bridal party, they’re going to be an important part of your wedding, both the lead up to it, and the day itself. So you should be able to have whoever you want most, by your side.
Wedding parties aren’t as simple as bridesmaids and groomsmen anymore. It’s completely okay to break tradition and have a ‘groomsmaid’ or ‘bridesman’ – or however you choose to phrase it – on the bride or groom’s side.
If you’re not traditional in this area of your wedding planning, your guests will understand. This is one of those cases where, if you plan on inviting someone who wouldn’t support that, then their happiness as a guest, probably shouldn’t be so important to you.
Consider Your Budget
Each part of the wedding feels important, the venue, the food, the DJ, the photographer, and also the guest list. Your budget allows you to treat your guests to a great day out, but it’s up to you how you allocate it.
Of course you don’t want to be walking around in a $6000 dress while your guests go hungry, but once your guests are fed, and have enough to drink and a place to sit, everything else is a bonus.
Would you prefer to have more guests, rather than splashing out on flowers or a DJ? Or is giving a smaller guestlist a plush dinner or an open bar your priority?
Work around the budget you have to create the kind of day you want for your guests, whether that’s a foodie feast for 20, or an evening-only dance party for 200.
Location is Key
Where you pick your venue can make your guests happy or upset. If it’s a destination wedding, communicate with your guests the best you can. Guests might not want, or be able to, spend the money to travel, and if you’re planning a destination wedding, that’s something you’ll need to prepare for.
Do make sure you lay on some little extra touches for the guests who do travel. Make finding and booking accommodation and transport as straightforward as possible with a wedding website, perhaps create a little welcome pack with a map of the local area and a small token from the locality, or plan some opt-in activities for the days around the wedding.
Even if your destination is just a drive away, make sure you send hotel options, for different budgets, with the invitations so they know they don’t have to travel far after the reception, or have a welcome drink or snack on arrival before your ceremony, so guests will be refreshed after the long drive.
Of course this will differ whether you’re having a religious or secular ceremony, but the best way to keep you guests happy at your ceremony is to make them feel involved.
Have your officiant keep your guests included in each step of the ceremony and think about ways to have both individuals and the full group take part – we’ve got some great ideas from officiant Natasha of Engaged and Ready here.
You don’t want your ceremony to be long and drawn out or your guests will get bored. Keep it short and simple and your guests will thank you.
Eat, Drink and Be Married
Cocktail hour and the reception are where your guests want to get their drink on.
Not every wedding has to have alcohol, but if you are planning on having drinks, make sure you calculate the wine and Champagne you need for your wedding, and go a little over. No one wants to run out of drinks at their wedding.
The food at the reception is also a huge part of pleasing your guests. Most weddings give guests two options to pick from for their meal. While you might want to have your own favourite cuisine for your wedding dinner, do make sure your meal options are likeable by the majority of your guests.
Don’t forget to consider the guests who may have any food allergies or dietary requirements, this is one wedding detail where you have to think of everyone!
The Entertainment and Activities
The reception is more than just eating and drinking. This is where you plan the first dance, maybe have a slideshow of pictures, or bring out the DJ to direct the entire reception.
Try to give your guests some entertainment during the reception, whether it’s an iPod playlist or a band, music will get everyone in the mood for a party.
It’s nice to provide your guests with something to do if they don’t want to dance too. Have your DJ play games with the guests, or DIY your own lawn games.
Keeping your guests busy will keep them happy during the reception.
Planning a wedding, staying on budget, and most importantly keeping your guests satisfied, is a lot to juggle. There is a balance between planning the wedding of your dreams, and keeping in mind the the guests who will attend your wedding.
As we said up top – it’s all about making your guests comfortable and giving them a good time. And if you’re having the best day ever, chances are they are too.