Not to toot my own horn but... toot toot! My husband and I put together an awesome wedding. I mean… our friends still randomly bring up how much fun they had 5 years later so… I’m going to accept the win. But why was it more enjoyable or memorable than any other wedding? At the time, some of our best decisions were just dumb luck to be honest. But now, after several years’ experience working with a meeting planning company under my belt, I realize there was a lot of social science to our success.
Here is my best advice for hosting a wedding that you, your spouse AND your guests will enjoy.
Make it approachable.
People are going to feel more comfortable when they’re not afraid to touch anything! I know this may be a hard one for the brides looking to go big or go home, but consider avoiding breakables or all-white décor. Budget tip: Choose pockets of the venue to decorate such as the entrance or cake area. This can perpetuate your theme without the need to fill the entire space while giving you freedom to make those areas particularly awe-worthy.
Get lots of people involved.
Use your family and friends to your advantage! They will feel more connected to the day when they get to contribute and you can showcase their strengths (literally or figuratively) during your preparations, from making the cake to decorating the arch or helping bag favors (oh hey there Skinny Minis). This also gives you some extra time with those you love who may be in town for the big day and divvies out the work more evenly.
Keep everything close by or, at minimum, communicate clearly.
This goes for the location of the ceremony, reception, food vs dancing, etc. Signage and early communication are key. Important information (such as a map to your venue and reception area, dress code, how much food will be served) should be on your invitations or, at least, your wedding website, which you make noticeably clear on your invitations. And don’t skimp on the signs on-location! People get grumpy when they’re lost or confused. Signs to consider: The turn-off to your location(s), bathrooms, drinks, food, water, etc.
Consider your guests’ travel experience.
If people need to travel, make sure to either set up lodging options or suggest several close by. From there, give detailed directions on how to get to your venue, including travel time. This allows your guests to plan how much they’ll be spending, how long it will take to get to the venue and ease their minds on the day of.
Get a DJ or band that knows their stuff and will help track the time.
Our DJ was a godsend. He showed up, set up and was ready to go without my even needing to do more than wave hello. He let us pick specific songs for certain parts of the night, caught the vibe of the guests to keep them dancing, and even reminded us about timelines such as cutting the cake and doing the bouquet throw. He was one of the most important contributors to the success of our event.
Do not hire a family member or friend to take your photos.
You want your family and friends to be present, not stressed and running all over the place. In fact, encourage your guests to put their phones or cameras away and hire yourself a trusted photographer. This ensures that everyone will stay in the moment rather than worrying about getting that perfect photo to share on social media.
Designate. Designate. Designate.
Do not assign yourself tasks on the day of the wedding, but do assign to others. Trust me, there will be enough people coming to you with questions about what to do that you won’t have time to complete anything yourself. Talk with a friend or parent who can take the lead on some things and who understands your vision for the day. In fact, give their number out to any vendors as the primary contact for the day of. Obviously, clear this with them ahead of time.
Take your pictures before the ceremony.
I know this one won’t sit well with some, but hear me out. Pictures can take an hour or, likely, more. That means that your guests are either waiting that long to eat (and getting drunk if you have a cocktail hour) OR, if you are having your pictures done while they eat, then you won’t get dinner and are probably going to get hangry. Rushing to get done also leaves room for error of photos missed with important guests. Not to mention time away from the fun stuff (like dancing)!
Do a receiving line.
I know this feels old school, but a receiving line guarantees that you’ll see everyone and you won’t have to worry about stopping at each table and getting stuck there. Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to people of course! But it relieves some pressure.
Do have snacks.
My mom was right on this one. “But we’re already feeding them dinner!” I had argued. However, once people got dancing, the extra little snacks (chips and pretzels) gave them a needed energy boost.
We did this by having a limited amount of beer and wine, an experienced bartender to pour, and water bottles easily accessible. People were able to get tipsy and feelin’ good without becoming sick, overly boisterous or a liability. I know this can’t always be the case, but we were thankful for the outcome.
At the end of the day, a wedding is about you and your spouse. Take each moment for what it is, let things go that aren’t perfect and remember to spend time with them!
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