Fast forward to a week after your wedding. After you are married and after your gifts and cards have been opened. After thank you cards have been mailed and your wedding clothes have been to the cleaners. Before you get your wedding album and your teaser video back, you’ll be relying on friends and family to relive your wedding. What they post on social media, what you talk about at your next game night, and on all of your phone calls.
When you have a wedding where guests come first, this part of your life is filled with gushing compliments, overjoyed recollections, and hoards of happy conversations. Translation: when your guests are happy you feel better about the wedding you’ve had... guaranteed.
You can put your guests first by:
BEFORE THE WEDDING:
- Inviting them to your wedding with ample time for them to RSVP, ensure that they get save the dates and/or invitations in a timely manner. Send by dates vary based on factors like where your guests are coming from and when in the year your wedding is. Use your best judgment and think about how much time you like to have when planning to attend a wedding as a guest.
- Give them the information they need. Things like lodging, provided transportation, and your registry(ies). Guests also like to know the dress code, what time dinner is and if parking is free. You can include any information that doesn’t fit (or doesn’t look nice) on an invite on your wedding website. I suggest reminding guests to check your website, the place where you’ve stockpiled all this juicy wedding information, by posting on social media with a link to the page.
ON THE DAY OF:
- If a shuttle is provided to the ceremony or from the reception, clearly communicate the departure times. This means a sign, a notice in their welcome bag, have it posted in the bathrooms or even have the DJ make announcements.
- Have lots of signage OR staff/ushers to guide and direct guests throughout the day. Think about having a parking lot attendant, to let guests know where to go next. Ushers to greet guests, take cards and gifts, and pass out programs. Ushers to direct guests to cocktail hour and then to be seated for dinner. Having your officiant and/or DJ announce what is next can really be helpful, but for some events might feel tacky. Note: your venue might already provide this guest experience via catering staff or onsite coordinators. Just make sure that you have someone(s) helping your guests navigate the great unknowns of your wedding, ‘what is happening next?’ and ‘where do we go for it?’.
- Allow for opportunities of candids and family photos. Letting your photographer do this during cocktail hour can really knock the socks off of wedding guests. I mean, they too are all dressed up with friends and family abound, they too like to have nice pictures of themselves as taken by professionals.
- Plenty of food. The kind that’s filling and delicious. Nobody likes a hangry aunt, nobody.
- Personal greetings. Whether you opt to do a receiving line, a dismissing line or greet guests tableside, be mindful that guests want the opportunity to congratulate you, face-to-face.
- Music they like to hear. This might seem tough, but there are plenty of hits that most human beings like to boogie to. Play crowd pleasers first and then amp up the hits to the ones you and the people most-likely-to-dance-all-night-long like.
- Send thank you cards promptly. I always think it’s a good idea to delegate this task. Ask your sister to address envelopes as you open the gifts and ask your aunt to keep a tally of who gave you what (preferably on the computer). That way you can print your guest list, alphabetize your gift list and write personalized thank yous like a pro. Make sure you BOTH sign the cards.
- Give access to photos to your family + friends. Let them view the gallery (or your favorites) and then give them the ability to order their own prints. Have your photographer help you with this one. You could even include a note about the photos in the thank you cards with a link to where they can access them.
All of the things I mentioned put guests first, but they secretly put you first. They make your life easier so that you get less of the same question, and they make your wedding better, so you really stretch those hours to fill your heart, fill your cup and fill every waking moment of the day you say ‘I do’ with happiness and fun and love and laughter and....
Prosperity, Love & Happiness,