Every couple wants their wedding to be an event to remember for their guests, but there are times when your day can be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Gross food? Too loud music? Getting lost on the way from the ceremony to the reception? While it’s pretty much impossible to make everyone happy (some people just love to gripe), you can easily avoid some of the most common complaint causers by following the no-fail advice from our panel of wedding experts. This will ensure your wedding is a good time for (almost) all.
No AC in the summer. While you might love the idea of getting hitched in that old church that doesn’t have air conditioning or an outdoor garden with no shade, sitting in the sweltering heat will only make your guests sweaty and miserable. Instead, try to find a compromise that will give you what you want without sacrificing your guests’ comfort, such as having the ceremony in a cool spot and taking photos in the other locations.
The venues are too far apart. When your ceremony and reception are being held in two separate locations, be sure you don’t make them too far away. “Anything more than a 30 minute drive is too far for guests to travel–especially if most guests are traveling from out of town to attend the wedding anyway,” says Taryn Blake. “If you can’t find a space that is all-inclusive, try to find two venues within relatively short distance from one another.” If having venues that are far apart is simply unavoidable, provide transportation for guests to get from one place to the other and then back to their cars.
There’s too much time between events. After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom and wedding party usually go to a separate location to take photos. The guests should have a designated place to go with food and beverages and entertainment while waiting for the bride and groom to join the reception. “This is the reason behind a cocktail hour, so the guests are fed and entertained while wedding party photos are being taken,” says Kristin Watkins. “Any longer than an hour is too long and your guests will start to get antsy.”
The music is too loud. “For whatever reason bands and DJ’s feel the louder they play the more guests enjoy the party–not true in my opinion,” says wedding planner Shawn A. Rabideau. “The music should be loud enough that guests can dance and have a good time. But also low enough that conversations can be had. Talk with your band or DJ and tell them on a scale of one to ten (ten being the loudest) you want music at a five or six. When the older guests start to leave later in the evening then you can go to a seven or eight. But anything higher is just way too much and unnecessary.”
There’s no open bar. We know, it can be expensive to offer an open bar, but it’s what guests expect (and want). Save money by serving beer and wine, and then choose two cocktails that the bride and groom love to share with their guests, recommends Tristan Tilma, CEO/Founder of Stagsource. “This will be far cheaper than having an open bar, and give you a chance to share a little more about yourselves with your guests. And chances are not everyone is going to be a huge fan of the two cocktails you choose and thus you’ll save on alcohol!”
Having to sit at the “wrong” table. A young couple sitting at the senior table; exes having to endure having dinner with one another–and their new partners; your parents’ friends seated right near the DJ speakers. These are just a few seating faux pas that annoy guests and cause stress for couples. Tilma recommends using allseated.com to arrange where your guests are going to sit to make sure it becomes a perfect night.
Bad Food (or not enough).You expect the food you will receive as a guest, and the food ordered by the family, would be tasty. But what happens when the food is unsalted and the fish and meat are cooked to bricks? “You get frustrated and hungry guests, as well as unhappy parents of the bride/groom,” says Preeti Moberg. She suggests having a family member taste test the food before it goes out to the tables. You also need to make sure your venue and caterer has an accurate head count before the wedding day so there is enough food ordered and prepared for the event. The last thing you need is for guests to leave your reception still hungry and looking to make a fast food run on the way home.
Ignoring special requests or needs. This includes little things like making accommodations for guests with disabilities, accounting for children in the planning, providing ample numbers of highchairs, proper meal options (vegan options or kids’ meals). “More often than not, these are the “little” details that slip through the cracks when planning and are often overlooked, leaving guests feeling marginalized,” says Rob Farrow.
[Photo: Wedding Paper Divas]
Kids are running the show. Even if kids are included on the guest list, it’s important to remember this is an adult party, not a kids birthday, says Blake. “I often overhear guests saying kids are taking over the dance floor–and many times, I see their parents doing more, well, parenting, than actually enjoying the night!”
Thank You Notes
Not getting a thank you note. A guest could attend your wedding and think that it was the most beautiful event they have ever attended. However, if weeks or months go by and they don’t see a note from you recognizing their attendance, or worse yet their gift, they could end up with a sour taste in their mouth, says Caroline Kennedy. “Thank you notes are a personal and simple way to show guests that you appreciate their presence.”