As you prepare for your Big Day, it’s important to remember that, while it is, indeed, your day, you didn’t get here all by yourself. Chances are you’ve had help — and, quite possibly, lots of help. Even if the two of you are paying for your wedding yourself, you’ve likely enlisted the services (paid or otherwise) of family, friends, wedding planners, and others to help make your wedding day come true.
Among those who are making your nuptials happen are your guests. Yes, we’re sure most if not all of your guests are coming because they want to be there to celebrate your happy union. But even those guests are giving you something. Not only are they giving you a wedding gift (and perhaps a shower and/or engagement gift, too), they’ve likely purchased a new outfit to wear, perhaps are traveling from out of town, and may even be paying for a hotel room.
So, while it is your wedding, you are their hosts and, as such, it’s your duty (yes, Princes and/or Princesses for a Day, duty) to ensure that they have a good time, are treated like the guests of a royalty, and are not embarrassed or inconvenienced. Don’t believe me? Do any of the following and don’t be surprised if, after the wedding, your calls and emails are not returned or you get the “I’m pretending I don’t see you” cold shoulder in the supermarket.
Newsflash: Nobody wants to attend a wedding – the ultimate celebration of togetherness – alone. Okay, maybe some people don’t mind and, once in a while, someone may even prefer it. But those people tend to be the exception, not the rule, and, unless you know that with absolute certainty – which, most likely, you don’t – at least give guests the option on the invitation.
I know that the bride doesn’t generally handle her own shower arrangements. But, come on – you know that, unless you choose (or circumstances dictate) otherwise, you’re getting one. Attending a wedding these days can be expensive, particularly if there are multiple events (engagement party, shower, wedding) that require gifts. So be a sport and tell your maid of honor, your mom, or whomever else may be planning the “surprise,” that you’d prefer to have some time between your shower and your wedding. This not only gives your guests a break financially, it also gives you time to really savor each event on its own.
We’ve all been there: to the outdoor summer-day wedding in the blaring sun with no shady spots or drinks, or the summer-at-dusk wedding, just as the mosquitos are getting hungry for some bare skin to bite. How about the beach wedding at water’s edge – for which the planner forgot to take into account high tide, pop-up thunderstorms, and wind (aka blowing sand)? Ah, and who can forget the fall wedding in the park, where tick-filled piles of slippery leaves (the better to trip on) have accumulated and where the temps dip 15 to 20 degrees as the sun sets. Don’t do that.
“Protect your guests with a tent rental, heater, and/or an air conditioner on standby,” advises Craig Pellis, chef/owner at Silver Spoon Catering in Mount Kisco. “Make sure there is adequate shade from direct sun. Your guests expect to at least be protected from the elements.” Also, if you’re getting married in the grass and don’t have portable flooring (note: you should), consider offering protection for women’s heels. (Solemates are a good option.)
This is not a rock concert; it’s a wedding. And, while a few minutes’ wait builds excitement and anticipation, smiles can turn into frowns when Pachelbel’s Canon ends and The Prince of Denmark’s March begins — and there’s still no sign of the bridal party, let alone the bride. Get out there before frowns turn into sighs, rolling eyes, and shaking heads.
Your guests may “ooh” and “ah” in the beginning, but for every minute longer than 20, you’ll start to lose them. At this point, they’re thinking about food, drinks, and finding a bathroom. Unless religion or custom really mandates it, less is more. “If you want your guests to tune out and play with their cell phones, have an ultra-long ceremony,” says Chereese Jervis-Hill, president and founder of Events To Remember in Mount Kisco. “I guarantee you, this will happen.”
For you, the most anticipated moment of your wedding is your “first look” at each other. For your guests, it’s the first look at Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam, and Jack Daniel’s. You’re not a drinker? That’s great, but that doesn’t mean your guests are teetotalers. Not serving alcohol — or, perhaps worse yet, making your guests pay for their drinks — is, bluntly, a slap in the face to them. “People like to drink, especially on happy occasions,” says wedding planner Melissa Fife of Events By Missy & Company. “A cash bar (or no alcohol at all) is frustrating.” Guests are “giving you their time and money,” adds Chereese Jervis-Hill. An open bar is “a really nice way to say ‘thanks in advance.’”
Don’t expect your guests to sit through your ceremony, go to another room or venue, and then wait for dinner. Even if you didn’t budget for a full cocktail hour, it’s just courteous to serve something between the ceremony and reception — even if it’s just a few munchies and wine or soft drinks. Don’t, however, serve alcohol without food.
“Bad food” can mean several things. It can mean “poor quality,” which is bad enough. It can also mean “tainted with bacteria,” which is much worse. Serving bad food is totally unacceptable, but there are different levels of “unacceptable.” Serving mushy, cafeteria-quality ziti and other requisite cheap-buffet fare that’s been sitting under a heat lamp may get you whispered about, but only for a while. If you want to ensure that you are persona non grata in the lives of your wedding guests, though: Make them sick. Give them salmonella poisoning from undercooked chicken, or E. coli because you cut corners on your catering expenses and the employees didn’t wash their hands. “Ask for references from your food vendor,” advises Craig Pellis. “Professional caterers have the experience of producing high-quality food on a larger scale than most restaurants.”
Guests expect to relax, enjoy themselves, and be entertained — not be put on the spot or embarrassed. Some people are shy, some don’t like to dance; almost nobody likes to be prodded to do so.
Music is tricky. Everybody loves great music, but everyone’s taste is different. And, even if the music is great, most people don’t want to have their innards trembling while they’re eating because of your favorite music’s dope bass lines. Dinner is a time to eat, chill, and chat — and you can’t do any of that with loud music pumping continuously.
Have you had a bad experience at a wedding? Let us know in the comments!