So you’ve read “What guests look for at a wedding” and now you want to know what they don’t love!
First, WHY? Why do you want to know what guests hate at a wedding? Isn’t this ‘MY BIG DAY’! While a wedding is about celebrating your love, it’s important for you to remember that you are choosing to host your guests, and as good hosts, your guests’ comfort and happiness should be top-of-mind!
Mostly, wedding guests are simply happy to be included in your big day (and the thought of a free meal doesn’t hurt either). However, there’s a few pet peeves almost universal to wedding guests, so better to know now and make a choice whether to pander to them. In a nutshell…. they want to know what they’re doing, where they’re going, and what’s expected of them.
That wait between the ceremony and the reception, while the couple gallivant off to have their photos taken with the bridal party can be absolute torture for wedding guests – where do they go, what do they eat, what do they do, is there Champagne?!?
This ought to be a key part of your planning – what will you and your guests be doing immediately post ceremony? For example, we organised lawn games and a live musician to take care of our guests, but also only disappeared for 45 minutes before returning to the party. We ensured everyone had plenty to drink, and lots to eat to ensure they didn’t get too drunk in the interim either.
“I have been to my fair share of weddings and love being a part of their special days. But with that said, I absolutely hate delayed receptions — the ones where you get there and no beverages or food are served for more than an hour. Especially if children are invited, there should be activities to keep them busy or else you end up with a room full of hungry guests and bored kids running around.”
Lack of Planning
I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re already at pains to get plans put together for the big day, and perhaps you’re already feeling overwhelmed by it all, but while you’re making those plans, keep your guests in mind…
Whether its the above mentioned interim period between ceremonies; a lack of consideration for seating, eating, waiting, all-weather alternatives, entertainment or not having enough wine glasses, failing to plan is planning to fail. It starts with the first of your bookings – knowing all the questions to ask your vendors is crucial, as it makes you think about all the possible things you’ll need to plan for. The little white wedding planning pack contains all the questions you need to ask your venue, photographers, caterers (et al). My advice, write lists (check them twice), delegate responsibilities, make an on-the-day timeline and distribute to vendors, the bridal party and parents, and have a run through to check timings too.
“Every wedding I’ve attended has been a wonderful celebration filled with laughter, love, tears, and lots of dancing, which makes for a great party every time. But even though every one has been a blast, a couple weddings I’ve attended had some rough starts and the cause usually started with the planning — or lack of planning — that went into communicating with the guests. My one piece of advice as a guest is think about the best way to stay in communication with all of your guests as the wedding progresses, because something almost always changes last minute. We as guests want to make sure we’re bringing our A-games to your big day!”
No Microphones at the Ceremony
I not only want to see (so think about seating/standing arrangements) but I want to hang on every word of the vows, the readings, the speeches… this is what we came for (and Champagne) – don’t leave it up to chance whether your guests will hear the all important promises you make to each other during the ceremony, or the hilarious drunken Best Man speech to be quoted for years to come. I’ve attended weddings where I couldn’t hear, so for ours we ensured that wasn’t a possibility, hiring a standalone microphone to be held by our celebrant during the ceremony, and by our toast makers during the reception. It amplified the sound of both so I was even able to record it on my iPhone and listen later.
“I understand that a lot of guests look forward to weddings for the free food and booze. But not me. I’m in it for the ceremony. What can I say? I’m a big sap. So my biggest pet peeve as a wedding guest is when couples don’t consider whether their guests can actually hear them during the ceremony. If you don’t use a microphone, chances are we won’t hear anything that’s happening. And instead of sharing the moment along with you, we’ll just be stuck twiddling our thumbs.”
The Bride Venting About Her Wedding (At the Wedding)
If you’ve been disappointed by something on the day, moaning about it to the guests just won’t help the situation..
“I just went to a wedding in which the bride sat down at our table to say hello and just launched into this very long speech about how tough wedding planning was and how she wished she had just eloped. When she got up from our table and moved to the next, I heard her give the same spiel to another guest. I get that she was probably just stressed from it all and needed to vent. But as a guest, it made me feel pretty uncomfortable. Your wedding is a happy occasion, but it’s pretty difficult to see it that way when you spend the whole reception complaining about how miserable it was to get there.”
Shit happens, even on your wedding day, but you need to be able to take yourself out of the situation, spend some alone time with your new spouse, a moment with your maid of honour or parent, and get some perspective.
Even if, God forbid, whatever disappointment is going to ruin your day, it’s actually up to you whether it ruins everyone else’s too, and whether the wedding is remembered for all the wrong reasons. Suck it up Princess.
“Cash bars. I understand that not everyone has the budget for an open, full bar. That’s OK. But in that case, try to offer a limited bar, such as just beer and wine. Guests will really appreciate it — especially the ones who have traveled or had significant expenses in order to come to your wedding.”
David Tutera ‘Open Bar vs Cash Bar’ in an article by The Knot states “a cash bar is never a good choice. When you have a wedding, you’re inviting people to a party, and they shouldn’t have to pay for anything while they’re there. Yes, it’s true that when you have a bash in your apartment and invite all your pals, you say “BYOB” but it’s not quite the same at a formal event.”
While those are just five things wedding guests hate… let’s finish on a positive and think of some ways you can ensure your wedding guests leave happy and have wonderful memories of your big day!
Information in advance: whether it’s a wedding website, comprehensive information sheet, or even a Facebook group set up for guests, keep everyone in the loop about timings, traffic, accommodation options, nearby restaurant recommendations, travel directions between venues, etc. A wedding website or Facebook group can work in your favour too – it gives you an easy way to communicate with all the guests, should you need to ask for help at the last minute.
Bathroom baskets: welcome bags or bathroom baskets go down a treat. I put together an article of just what to include in bathroom baskets. For a destination wedding, welcome bags of snacks, water, sunscreen, hangover helpers and location information are particularly useful too. Skip the wedding favour for after, and give your guests something useful in advance.
Spending time with you: it can be hard to fit everything in on your big day – between the photos, trying to find a moment alone with your partner and ensuring to eat, the time goes fast and you may feel torn between wanting to enjoy the party yourselves, or taking the time to acknowledge your guests. Stay with your spouse, and take a few minutes for each guest, thank them for their presence and let them wish you well towards the next chapter in your life.
Thoughtful catering: Afternoon snacks, catering to dietary requirements, easy finger-friendly canapés, thought for different palates, etc. Guests will remember bad food, or being hungry because there weren’t options suitable to their dietary requirements. A little gluten free bread, non dairy spread and vegetarian offerings won’t break the bank, but will appease the few fussy eaters you have. You can ask for dietary requirements in advance (on the invitation) to know in advance. Also be sure to consider that people are drinking, so hearty food is necessary. If its a long day, ensure to serve adequate food and refreshments throughout the entire event, not necessarily just at dinner time. While we could all do with a healthy influence in our lives, your wedding day is not the ideal time to convert your friends to a raw, vegan, green smoothie diet.
Thoughtful thank you notes: When guests have taken the time to spend the day with you, perhaps also buying you a gift, or even travelling for a destination wedding, it is so impolite not to thank them. Guests may wonder if their guest ever arrived, and will feel grateful for your time in acknowledging their time and thought. I suggest splitting the job with your new spouse – for example, you write to guests on your family side/your close friends, and he to his.
It’s not that difficult to plan your dream day that’s also a dream for your guests to attend. Have a look at the little white wedding planning pack to help with all of the above, including the little white book wedding organiser and diary.