I love working with couples that truly think about their guests! It seems like a simple concept to make sure your guests have a great time at your wedding but we have all been to weddings that might have missed the mark in small ways or sometimes completely. I recently wrote a blog about "How to be a gracious wedding guest" so I wanted to offer a different perspective. how-to-be-a-gracious-wedding-guest-my-pet-peeves-as-a-planner.html Here are 10 things to consider for your guests!
1. Plenty of Notice - Save-the-dates are always a nice way to let your guests know in advance what your plans are. Save-the-Date card should be sent 6 to 9 months in advance.
2. Easy way to RSVP - While mailing formal invitations is the standard wedding etiquette, it is also smart to send email invites or have an online Wedding Website that guests can refer to to leave their RSVP. My favorite wedding websites to suggest are www.zola.com , www.minted.com , www.withjoy.com
3. Wedding Day Specifics - Speaking of wedding websites, leave guests with specific wedding day information of what they can expect. Detail the day with a simple day-of timeline, detailed directions with landmarks to the ceremony & reception locations.
4. Ceremony Grace Period - It is smart to sandbag your ceremony start by about 15 minutes. Almost 98% of weddings I have been a part of have had guests who show up only a few minutes late and hope to sneak into the back of the ceremony. For example, I usually suggest that the invitation lists the ceremony start at 4:00pm knowing fully well that you will not start the ceremony until 4:15pm. Work this out with your planner or ceremony venue but it is the best way to make sure everyone is seated and ready without the distraction of guests who made a wrong turn sneaking in the back of the ceremony.
5. Feed Them! - I cannot repeat this enough. If you are taking even a few minutes for pictures right after the ceremony make sure that you are feeding the guests with some light hor s'doeurves. Another time period to consider is the wait time it takes to get to the buffet at the reception. Make sure your caterer or planner has planned out ample space for the guests to get food, create multiple stations or double sided buffets that feed a lot of people quickly. Having the Caterer serve the food from the buffet directly on to their plates also helps the buffet line move quickly.
6. Sunset Pics - As a planner I have never more embarassed for a couple than when the Bride & Groom slipped off to do some sunset pictures during their reception and ended up alienated the guests for far too long. The dance floor cleared and guests started to leave or began looking around for the Bride & Groom. The DJ continuted to play music but the awkward feeling in the room was palpable. I love sunset pictures but the happy couple should not be missing from the reception for more than 10 minutes. Guests have traveled from near and far to celebrate with you by all means you need to celebrate with them.
7. Dietary Needs - Take into account any dietary restrictions that guests might have either by serving a variety of options or having a prepared special meal for stricter dietary needs. Any caterer should be able to accomodate this.
8. Kiddos - There is nothing wrong with limiting your guestlist to adults-only but if you will have kids attending make sure you are thinking of them with things like menu items and activities. You can even book a special kids room if available at your venue for the kids to retreat to complete with a hired sitter so their parents can enjoy the party.
9. Transportation - Given the location of your venue and if your guests will be drinking it is smart to provide transportation to and from the event. This takes a bit more coordination and more budget but guests truly appreciate the thought and can let down their hair down a bit more.
10. Gift Table - Thank you notes (of course!) But also during the event, provide ink pens and scotch tape at the gift table. Some guests forget to tape their card to the gift and everything gets lost in the shuffle at the end of the night so if the card is taped to the gift you will be able to know who it is from and also how to write the thank you card. Ink pens are good for the guests that hasn't filled out their card until they get there. You know who you are!