Your wedding is all about you and your best friend, but it’s also a time where you bring together your closest family + friends to celebrate your life commitment to each other. Many couples have guests traveling from all over the country, set aside their own life obligations for a day, and probably an entire weekend! Thinking about what would make them comfortable, loved, and appreciated can be such a lovely way to make them feel supported as they support you! It’s a win-win!
Making your guests feel special starts from the very beginning of your wedding planning journey from selecting a location and venue down to being prepared for weather situations and accommodating guests with food selection and even little personal touches. Let’s explore some of these considerations together!
Ways to Prioritize Your Guests in the Planning Process:
Selecting a Date & Time : Unless you and your love have a special date like an anniversary that you’d like to get married on, taking into account your guests’ schedules, holidays and/or prime time of year for things like vacationing and school breaks, should rank high on the list when trying to nail down a wedding date and time. If you’re holding a weekday wedding consider things like traffic or accomodating work schedules with a later start time. For destination weddings consider off peak times where travel and accommodations may be less expensive for those flying or driving to attend your event. As soon as you have your date and time nailed down, consider sending out save the date announcements so your guests can start working on all of these things as soon as they can.
Venue and Location : A comfortable venue for all your guests should be high on your priority list. Is there enough room to accommodate all the people you’d like to attend? Will your venue need to be ADA compliant to consider people attending with disabilities or mobility issues? Will you have extra chairs and places to rest during cocktail hour for the folks that may wish to sit while you have your pictures taken? Will you host your wedding inside or outside based on the time of year and weather where you plan on tying the knot?
A well-planned timeline : Consider your guests' downtime during your event while you do things like have pictures taken, have an outfit change or have a ceremony site turned into a reception ready space. What will your guests be doing during this time? Open bar, appetizers, and a "guest" experience are great things to include during these times. Consider a photo booth, interactive drink wall, entertainment, caricature artist, or anything else your guests might enjoy!
Food Considerations : A variety of foods and drink to accommodate many different tastes and dietary restrictions is always high on the list when preparing for your event. Make sure your guests don’t go hungry or thirsty and offer many different opportunities for snacking and hydration as well. Feeding your guests in a timely manner will ensure no one is waiting an hour for their “wedding” meal. Don't forget to chat with your caterer about dietary restrictions and gather this info from your guests well in advance. You don't want the vegetarian stuck with a simple garden salad while everyone else is eating steak!
Transportation : Will you be making arrangements to have transportation options available to your guests if they are flying in to your destination wedding? Will there be an option to transport your guests from the wedding location to the reception if they aren’t held at the same place? If they are, consider making sure your locations are no more than 20-30 minutes away from each other, especially if guests are required to transport themselves. Don't forget to ask your planner about Uber/Lyft availability! In smaller cities, this is not as easy (or cheap) and not always a reliable option.
Seating Arrangements : Considering relationships and possible family conflicts during your day isn’t something pleasant to think about but it might be something to really consider when establishing your seating chart. Group family and friends together that have good rapport if possible and consider an ice breaker for each table for the folks that don’t know each other. Consider seating your elderly guests farther away from loud noises like speakers or the DJ. Think about common interests when charting your seating arrangements out.
Entertainment : What kind of atmosphere would you like to create at your wedding event? Something peaceful that may be conducive to a string quartet or maybe a more lively affair with live music or a DJ. Consider adding something special as well, like a photo booth, an ice cream bar, fireworks or games that might entertain your guests well into your event.
Weather Conditions : The best laid plans…well they don’t always work out. So being prepared for weather conditions outside of your control will make sure your guests are not only comfortable but feel cared for. For extreme heat, consider hand held mini fans, parasols, bug repellent and an option to move things inside or to a tent if need be. For cooler temps, hand warmers, pashminas, a hot cocoa bar, and heaters are a great idea!
Favors and Amenities : Consider your guests with thoughtful touches that exemplify how much you care about them and also thank them for attending your wedding. Depending on the size of the guest list and your budget, your favors could look like anything from a handwritten note and a sweet treat for them to leave with or maybe a lovely bottle of their favorite spirits with their name on the label. Also consider the “theme” of your wedding and get creative. Tell your story and create a memorable token of your love and appreciation for them joining you on your most special day.
Great Communication : It all boils down to this. Keeping your guests in the loop so they can prepare alongside you is what dreams are made of in your guests eyes. Inform them as early as possible about your date and time, location, transportation and attire. Make sure your info is easily accessible. Wedding websites like The Knot have pages you can set up and invite your guests to where all your details can be in one place and they can be kept up-to-date with all of your information as you plan for your big day.
Taking the time and energy to really consider and prioritize your guests and their comfort illuminates how much you appreciate, love, and respect them. Your consideration will ensure they have a lovely time attending and participating in your day, and in your love. Other ideas on ways to incorporate your guests in the planning process? We would love to hear them!
Happy Planning, Lovers,
Jacqueline & The SunRae Planning Team