It’s Your Day!
Isn’t this what everyone tells the bride and groom? It’s true you’ve spent lots of time, money, and energy to pull it all off and you want things your way but, NEWS FLASH! It’s not all about you! You have invited family and friends to celebrate the biggest day of your life with you. You need to be a good host. Here are some of the top wedding guest complaints and some tips on how to avoid them.
1. Church at 2:00 PM cocktail hour at 6? What am I supposed to do for 3 hours? Your guests do not want to have to find somewhere to be for 3 hours before the cocktail hour. If this is unavoidable you need to give them things to do. Have a family member host a pre-cocktail party, or have a special place for people to meet and explore like an art gallery or fun pub down town. They need ideas of where to be during this down time.
2. Where are we going? Most guest need some direction after the ceremony. Guest do not like to feel like no one has a plan and the day has no direction. If your officiant will make some announcements and give some direction it sounds very official and guests are more likely to follow the plan. Have it printed on the programs or have a small map available for ushers to hand out. Along with this make sure there are signs directing which way to go. Guests like to know what the plan is and what comes next. It is nice to have the feeling of organization and the guests are more relaxed if things are well planned and clearly communicated.
2. My Drink is How Much? No it’s not your responsibility to get your guests drunk. However, most 21 and over guests expect to have a cocktail after the ceremony. After all it is a party! It’s fine to limit your bar to beer and wine, or only a couple specialty drinks. You are not required to cater to everyones taste. Also consider drink tickets, this can help you keep the alcohol budget in check. It’s also ok to only have an open bar a couple hours and then go to cash bar.
3. So where’s the food? You should provide something at cocktail hour. Snack bar, popcorn bar, cheese and crackers. If there is nothing to eat they will drink more. Also contemplate how long your guests may be going without eating. If you’re having a buffet it may be 2-3 hours after ceremony before some of your guests get to eat. Consider this when making your hors d’oevours choices.
4. The line starts where?….Your guests do not want to wait in line forever for a drink or for food. This is a major guest complaint. Have a conversation with your venue, caterers, and/or coordinatior to help relieve some of the lines. At cocktail hour make sure you have enough bartenders to handle the amount of guests you have. Possibly have passed drinks or some self serve options so it takes some pressure off the bartenders. After dinner then you can go down to less bartenders because there will be less demand. If you are having a buffet, have several stations so the lines do not get backed up.
5. I can’t hold all this! I have my clutch, I have my drink I have a plate full of yummy appetizers, I just need to put something down so I can enjoy them. Guests need somewhere to sit or set their stuff down during cocktail hour. High top cocktail tables, or some small low tables with seating is important. Especially if you have older guests. This goes hand in hand with making sure you have enough room for your guests and bars and seating. If your guests can’t mingle and munch comfortably they will not be happy.
6. So….Where’s the Cake? The reception starts and people are eating and being served but after that comes toasts and the special dances. For the bride and groom it is always a flurry of activity! For a guest though it may just be alot of sitting. Guests enjoy a touching toast from the maid of honor and a fun joke or 2 from the best man, but if the entire wedding party are standing and listing all your embaressing moments, then uncle bob has to tell that story about that one time….For a guest this can get very boring. Please talk with your DJ about cutting any long winded speeches off. Plan who is to give the toasts and tell them 3-5 minutes tops. Do not be afraid to tell someone no there isn’t time. Perhaps some of the toasts can be given at the rehearsal dinner so no one feels left out. Also consider cutting the cake right away so it can be served during the toasts and the first dances. By now your guests are done eating and would like to be included in something. Many of these traditions are important and should definitely be part of your reception, but break up the monotony by having the dollar dance in between the family dances and the bridal party dance, or have the bouquet toss and garter toss later in the evening after the guests have had a chance to mingle and dance.
7. Right along side the long toast complaint is the long photo mantage complaint. Guests enjoy the cute photos of the bride and groom as babies and children, and a few dating photos leading up to the engagement and maybe even a quick edited photo from your photographer of the ceremony. No one needs to see 20 minutes of the couples life achievements up til today.
8. No Kids?!.. Really this is a big controversy. If you really don’t want any kids this is understandable. However keep in mind the parents traveling with kids will need someone to watch theirs during the festivities or be prepared for some with kids to not be able to attend. Also do not say no kids except…. This will undoubtedly cause a problem among the guests whose kids are allowed and whose are not. No kids should mean NO KIDS. If you want to have kids in your ceremony it would be proper to only have them at the reception dinner. This particular complaint is really only heard from parents and it is not your job to find child care for all your invited guests but if they have young children and are family or traveling, it would be difficult for them to attend with out their children. Perhaps there is a space available at your venue where children can hang out and watch TV under the watchful eye of a family member or paid baby sitter.
9. Table for 12? Do not for the sake of space stuff too many people at a too small table. Sit at the table yourself and consider elbow room. It is really uncomfortable to try to eat at a table sitting too close to the person next to you. This is where you really need to talk with your venue about the amount of tables and guests that are comfortably seated in the space. Just because the plaque on the wall says capacity 475 doesn’t mean that’s the number of guests you should have.
10. Where did they go? Sometimes it feels to guests like the only time they see the bride and groom is when they walk down the aisle. Since receiving lines are kind of a thing of the past, guests don’t get many opportunities to actually talk to and congratulate the bride and groom. Be gracious hosts, be seen, mingle with your guests. Make opportunities for face time with your guests. Maybe even make a special point of going around to tables talking with guests and posing for photos. Just a couple minutes saying Hi and thanking them for coming can mean a lot to guests.
I really could go on and on. Just remember your guests were invited by you, so make them feel welcome and like you want them to have a good time. Not just like you invited them for the gift. Oh yeah and don’t for get the thank you cards….
What complaints would you like to add to the list?