The Care and Keeping of a Wedding Guest
A Wedding Guest is a unique creature.
You and your partner have culled your guest list down to the few,
the proud, the relatives who don’t have access to your embarrassing baby pictures.
Most guests understand small budgets.
Most guests won’t be offended by cracker and cheese plates from Costco,
nor will most guests be offended by a cake and punch only reception.
All guests need a few things, however, to maintain that lack of offense:
1) Seats for the ceremony. If this is impossible, for whatever reason, have your officiant cut the ceremony down to 15 minutes maximum.
2) Comfortable temperature.
a) Outdoor ceremonies HAVE TO HAVE SHADE. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you put your guests in the sun, no matter how pleasant the day is, they will be hot, they will be squinting, they will get sweat on their nice clothes, and they will be grouchy. One memorable event I attended had the guests facing into the sun as it set because the bride thought that sunsets were romantic…
In Palm Springs. In 100 degree heat.
Please don’t do this to your guests.
b) Outdoor receptions must have heaters after the sun goes down. You may only need one or two, but if there is no place for guests to get warm, they will leave.
c) If you are going to have dancing indoors, please have fans and/or air conditioning. And crank those bastards up. Everyone will dance longer if they can cool down in between rocking it on the floor. And you really don’t want to get pit stains on The Dress, do you?
(Addendum to the Temperature Clause: If you are having an outdoor wedding, and the ground is soft, please let guests know so they can wear appropriate shoes.)
3) Water, water, water, water. Have a lot of it. Have it easily accessible at all times. If you don’t have a waitstaff, ask a relative or a friend to be specifically in charge of this.
4) It is normal for guests who are flying in to rent a hotel room.
Please let them do this if they wish.
If you offer a private home for those guests to stay in, basic consideration for their needs must be met: A bed or a *comfortable* couch to sleep on, sufficient blankets for those beds; towels and washcloths, shampoo and soap for showers; and basic breakfast foods must be provided. If you have pets, make sure no one has allergies. Additionally, said home should be clean and welcoming.
Remember that out of town guests don’t necessarily know where to get food quickly and easily–avoid inconveniencing people who have dropped hundreds of dollars on plane tickets to get to your wedding.
5) A word about family members or friends who are coming in to help before the wedding:
They are guests, too, and should be treated with courtesy. Remember that if you didn’t have their assistance, you would be paying a great deal of money for the services they are giving you out of love. Express your gratitude often and publicly…even if Aunt Ida is a loud-mouthed, opinionated blowhard. She set up your tables and took out the garbage after your reception. Smile and act grateful–you can bitch about her later.
6) Apologize when things (inevitably) don’t go as planned–even if you weren’t responsible. Someone will end up covering for you–driving out to the grocery store to buy another cake because yours fell into the dirt; pulling flowers from a neighbor’s yard at three in the morning because your florist didn’t adequately prepare the flowers for the ceremony, etc, etc.
If you take the first step of apologizing, people will be *much* more willing to continue covering for you.
7) Try to greet and thank every guest individually. Think of the weddings you’ve attended, and how nice it was to know that the bride and groom took the time to thank you for coming–it’s just a good gesture.
8 ) Favors aren’t necessary, but they are like the individual thanks above–a good gesture. Especially if the favor in question is tasty.
9) If you don’t have a lot of experience with planning events, parties, or haven’t been an integral part of making a wedding happen, please find someone who has this experience, ask for their help, and act on their advice. Your wedding vision may be beautiful, romantic, and meaningful to you and your partner, but if it means making your guests uncomfortable, you will need to adapt that vision.
10) Adapting your vision for the comfort and love of your guests does not mean you won’t get the wedding of your dreams. Keep your guests informed, demonstrate your gratitude, provide shade and water, and your wedding will be remembered with joy.