With so many options to choose from – plus a bunch of traditions to consider – what are we supposed to prioritise when it comes to nailing down the ceremony and reception?
When you start planning your big day, there are heaps of things to take into consideration; search ‘wedding’ and the results will blow your mind. There are squillions of ideas around venues, outfits, décor, dining, favours, music, vows and so much more. Whether you want to dress like a medieval fairy and hire 100 bunnies for a Tudor-themed woodland wedding, or wear a white wetsuit and marry your beloved before a teeming coral reef (dolphins have great noses for bearing rings… no?), it’s all possible these days (but don’t hold us to the dolphin thing).
If you’re struggling with the decision-making process (plus cramming everything into your budget), one thing that may help you is knowing what’s most important to your wedding guests. Sure, it’s your vision that takes precedence – and if you want those bunnies in dinner jackets, you should ruddy well go for it – but understanding what your friends and family care (and don’t care) about will give you a nudge if you’re on the fence about any details. Read on for five things your wedding guests do and don’t give a hoot about on your wedding day.
Five things wedding guests do care about…
Food and drinks
Sadly, the chances are that you’ll be buzzing around too much to really appreciate the grub at your wedding (a lot of brides say they forgot to eat during their big day). However, the guests will absolutely focus on the culinary spread – enjoying a lovely meal is the one thing that everyone will have in common – and if you nail it, the dinner will be a real talking point. Likewise, we’re all pretty united in our love for great tipple, so it’s worth taking the time to select tasty wine, good beer and one or two refreshing cocktails for your guests. And, remember: even if you get nothing else right on the day, a steady flow of alcohol from start to end will ensure that everyone has a great time.
Music can single-handedly make or break a wedding. Your song choices will play from the moment guests arrive, until the moment they leave – and will set the tone for each portion of the day. Your music needs to vibe with the setting, plus take folks from the chilled-out reception drinks, through the romantic ceremony, and onto the jovial dinner. And that’s before the dancing begins! A massive number of your guests will be planning to throw some serious shapes on that dancefloor, and you’ll need to prep the band, DJ or playlist to smash out upbeat tunes that everyone will know and love.
The seating plan
Second to deciding upon the guest list, working out the seating plan is one of the trickiest parts about planning a wedding. Who’s the most fun and who’s super quiet? Should you mix them up or have a fun table and a boring table? Who’s going to get on with who, and who needs to stay apart? Will you go for a top table, or do you want to join the crowd? It’s a stressful process, because you know full well that your guests do care who they’re seated next to – and they see it as a symbol of their ‘wedding status’. The dinner is also when the party really begins, and there’s nothing worse than being plonked next to a boring uncle while watching another table getting rowdy. Take your time, plan it out and, well, good luck.
Attending a wedding is an experience for guests – a chance for them to do something out of the ordinary – so your choice of venue is a source of excitement! The hard truth is that a portion of your guests will decide whether to make the journey to your wedding based on how fun they think the affair will be – and a cool venue is likely to be a huge factor. Likewise, the location of that venue is also going to determine how many attendees you’ll get; if you plan something overseas, be sure to tempt them onto the plane by securing an incredible venue. Or, if you have a wedding close to home, prepare to get RSVPs from everyone – even those who you weren’t that fussed about seeing.
While we don’t think that people will pile into your wedding on the premise that they’ll be hearing an excellent array of performances, the quality of your speeches can certainly affect the proceedings. A well-timed, hilarious best man’s speech can gee everyone up and get ‘em in the mood to party. A long, anecdotal sonnet by the father of the bride can send guests into a hazy food coma. Our recommendation? Keep each speech short and sweet – 10 minutes, at most – and try not to let your speakers get too hammered before they rock the mic.
Five things wedding guests don’t care about…
Let’s be honest – can you remember more than three cakes from all the weddings you’ve attended? And we’re talking about what they looked like, let alone tasted like. Hand on our hearts, we can’t remember the last time we enjoyed a slice of wedding cake – either because we didn’t get any, or because we were six drinks in. Yes, wedding cakes can be beautiful – and we love a cake-based Insta as much as the next gal – but they’re rarely truly appreciated on the day. And a lot of time and money is poured into those tall, spongey beasts. Don’t even get us started on the tradition of roping everyone into a room and telling them to ‘shh’ repeatedly while you painstakingly operate a cake slice. A fun, inexpensive alternative? Ask the baking addicts on your guest list to bring a homemade creation and place them all on a cute table (they won’t bring anything half-hearted if they know those bad boys will be displayed).
We love nothing more than poring over photos of gorgeous wedding dresses – and absolutely believe that a wonderful gown will contribute massively to the bride’s enjoyment of her nuptials. But this is about the guests, and all of them will believe that the bride looks radiant regardless of what she’s wearing. Of course, everyone will be excited to discover what frock the bride has decided upon – and a stunning gown can add a certain wow factor – but it generally won’t impact how much fun is had during the big day.
Flowers and décor
You’re starting to think that we’re cynical, aren’t you? But remember – this is about your guests! Do we believe that designing a gorgeous bouquet and painstakingly scattering a plethora of unique touches around the venue will look (and smell!) wonderful and come out beautifully in photos? Yes! But do we believe that your guests are going to remember how many paper balls you hung up, and appreciate that you spent a fortune on spray-painting roses blue? Probably not. Sure, create a themed experience that sets off your venue, but don’t sweat the small stuff.
The first dance
Picture this. You’re five drinks into the evening and having a brilliant time in a wig at the photo booth, or you’re belly-laughing during a catch up with an old friend at the bar. Do you want to stop what you’re doing, pile into a group, stand in silence, listen to a slow song, and watch two people moving about while feeling slightly awkward for five minutes? Sure, that was a loaded question, but it’s not far from the truth! If you’re looking to please your guests (you may not be – and that is A-OK!), choose a slightly upbeat tune, ‘introduce’ the dance-floor for 30 seconds (or enough time to snap a few photos) and get the shape-throwing off to a strong start.
Most people don’t love having their photo taken – that’s a fact. So, if you’re looking to please your guests, try to avoid creating a scenario where groups are roped in one by one for staged poses with the bride and groom. It’s not all that fun for the folks being snapped in front of a crowd, or those standing around watching – and waiting to be called up themselves. There’s also an element of status involved here, based on who is and isn’t asked for snaps. If you’re set on getting those staged pictures taken, whizz through them as quickly as possible – and ensure there’s some form of entertainment (and plenty of drinks) to distract the masses. One of the biggest complaints we hear from couples after their nuptials is that they spent too much time standing around taking pictures, when the best images were natural and un-staged.