Wedding planning? It’s time to make some decisions. Let’s begin with this prompt. What will your wedding guests remember? Do you focus on your “must-haves” for your wedding day or make plans so that it will be a memorable day for your wedding guests? Let’s talk about that.
The wedding is all about you and your groom. Therefore, the bride and groom are the focus of the decision-making. You will, however, have input from lots and lots of well-meaning advisors. So prioritize based on your dreams and inspirations for your wedding. In addition, you will want to consider the pros and cons of your decisions for your wedding guests. So what might be on the list of meaningful gestures and decisions based on those attending as potential guests?
Think about weddings that you have attended. What do you remember –good or bad? Remembering the bad or not so good things about weddings you have attended guides you. Reflecting on the good should also give you a compass on what worked for you when you were a guest.
So what are things that might cause guests to smile and to remember fondly? (in no particular order)
The Wedding Gown. This dress is the most important gown that a woman will EVER wear. And, of course, wedding inspiration and trends change from wedding season to the next. Think about this point. Your guests will not (or should not) care about the designer or manufacturer of the gown. Likewise, many of your guests won’t necessarily care if Monte Durham of “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” helped you choose that dress. Well, they might. (I would). Your wedding guests won’t ask to see the price of the dress. They don’t need to know if it was online. It would help to consider who pays for the dress and be reminded that you will have it one time. And, you don’t need a dress for the ceremony and a dress for the reception. However, your guests will be impacted by how you look in that wedding gown. Does it fit you well? Are your personality and style reflected in your choice? Do you look comfortable in the way it moves? Do you have to tug at various parts of the dress, such as a tight rear area or a bodice that is too low? Will the dress cause your parents and grandparents to be proud or to be concerned? Is it a timeless design that will pass the test of time for years and years to come? Why does it matter? You may have a daughter (or granddaughter) who could wear the dress one day. Many brides save their gowns in anticipation of that possibility.
Consider the comfort of your guests when choosing a location for the wedding and what the weather might be.
The design and style of your wedding gown will often guide your decision as to where to be married. It could be vice-versa. So many aspects to be considered when choosing both a venue and a season of the year for your wedding. Ponder on the following:
- Will your wedding guests be traveling from out of the area? If so, choose when rates for overnight accommodations and area attractions are not during high peak season. Also, be considerate of work and school schedules.
- Is someone in charge? Will there be an experienced wedding planner or wedding coordinator to direct and manage all aspects of the event. Then, your guests will remember if no one seems to know what is going on. They might even feel uncomfortable for you, as the bride. Why? Because your guests may notice that you are getting stressed with the seeming lack of organization.
- Choosing the wedding venue or location. Is it an outdoor wedding venue? Is it accessible for those with special needs (grandparents and those with health restrictions)? What about the weather? Will it be too hot or too cold? Is there a backup plan in case of bad weather? How will your grandparents and other guests be transported to the ceremony location if there is a distance to be walked? Is the venue well-staffed to handle trouble-shoot, if needed? Are there parking attendants? Will guests find the location easily and travel safely to that site (think about being on top of a mountain during bad weather). What happens if it rains or snows? Will your guests have to find shelter? Are there ample restrooms and parking? Is it a comfortable environment where your guests will enjoy being? Does the venue or location have a reputation for service and hospitality? Just a few questions to consider when thinking about the well-being of your guests. Not being prepared for the comfort and enjoyment of your guests can leave a negative memory for them of your wedding day.
- How long will the ceremony last? Yes, of course, it depends on custom and what is to be included. And, of course, the wedding vows should never be skimmed over. An average ceremony should not last more than 30 minutes. Your guests may get bored listening to various people sing and give special readings. And they might start squirming and moving about — possibly bringing their phones out to scroll. But, absolutely, the wedding vows are definitely the most important part of this day. Make those sweet and precious and memorable.
- Food and Drink. Weddings are celebrations, and like all such joyful occasions, food and beverage are important. However, be aware of possible food allergies and cultural/religious restrictions. Would you mind planning accordingly for the number of guests who are attending and then adding more? What will guests be anticipating? Will it be early afternoon, and finger foods are sufficient to sustain them until after the wedding? Is it the dinner hour? Never serve only finger foods for the dinner hour. You WILL run out of food, which is embarrassing for the host –usually the parents. Take into account that there will be guests who want seconds. This is usually the groomsmen!
- Regarding alcohol: first, do you really want that expense? And, if so, make sure that you hire a bartending group with a liability policy to cover any incidents. Second, a wedding should be a solemn and reverent occasion, and your bridal party may, indeed, think it’s all about partying. Third, do you want your parents to have to pay for damages to the property? Fourth, be aware of the pros and cons of serving alcohol. Finally, be aware of those who do not drink and provide alternate beverages for them to enjoy.
- Music and the role it plays during the wedding reception. How important is it to have a professional DJ? Can’t someone who has a good wireless speaker and a great playlist on their phone be good enough? Of course, this decision is completely up to you and your budget. If you aren’t worried about keeping your guests engaged and entertained, just playing music from the phone or laptop should be fine. However, consider the benefits a professional will provide for you and your guests. A professional DJ, who has the experience and the equipment, will encourage activity and dancing. They will announce certain events such as introducing the bridal party, cake-cutting, the send-off (with a mic), and help keep the party going on time. On the other hand, if you aren’t concerned about dancing and whether your guests are enjoying the atmosphere, then a professional might not be necessary.
So, what will your guests not necessarily remember or be impressed by? This is getting lengthy, so let’s conclude this story, shall we?
- Guests will not remember what texture your invitations were and how many inserts were included, and the beautifully hand-calligraphy on the envelope. Irish Linen, lined with foil, or Kraft paper — they won’t remember. So save your money and order through Etsy or Canva (not a sponsor).
- Fancy programs. Refer to the previous statement. Perhaps, consider no program at all. If the weather is such as a fan is needed, have the program placed on the back of the fan. Save money by distributing only one per couple.
- Expensive favors with sweet sayings and your monogram. What are they going to do with them? Edible. OK, that works. Think about how Clark Griswold felt about the Jelly of the Month gift in the movie Christmas Vacation. If a jam or jelly or honey is locally sourced, I think that’s a nice, useable item for the guest to keep. What about plants and tree seedlings to replant? Who has time? We once had a guest who gave away goldfish — the real ones, not the cheesy cracker. I will make a couple of suggestions if you really want to do a favor or take away your guests. First, spend money on a photo booth. These are still trending, and guests find the props and time to goof off in front of a camera fun activity. If your budget won’t allow for this expense, here’s my second suggestion. Use the money you would spend on favors and choose a charity to donate to honor your guests. Choose one or two that are special to you and your sweetie. This is a win-win option.
- Miscellaneous. The bouquet toss, assigned seats, garter toss, kissing game, first dance (open for debate), chicken dance, and smashing the cake in the faces of the bride and groom.
Things that guests would notice if left out.
- Most of your guests will be looking forward to THE CAKE! This doesn’t mean it has to be six tiers high with gold filigree and gum paste flowers. It doesn’t have to be shipped in by Carlos Bakery in New Jersey. What they will remember most about the cake is if it is dry and bland. Seriously, and I may be a cake snob, but the moistness and flavor of the cake are so much more important than if it is a recreation of Blake and Gwen’s design.
- The Flowers. Your guests will notice if you have flowers but probably won’t remember if the stems are fresh, silk, Sola (natural wood), freeze-dried, or plastic. Well, they may remember plastic. They may notice if there is no decor on the tables, but there are alternatives to flowers. There is a trend toward using more and more greenery. We have found that greenery lends itself to many different wedding themes and is typically less expensive. You don’t have to recreate a fresh-flower wall — – there are so many other gorgeous options. Scroll through Pinterest for wedding decor inspiration.
- Hospitality. So important that it deserves a bold font! Whether by you, your groom, the family, vendors, or the venue, your guests will most definitely remember if they didn’t feel noticed, appreciated, or taken care of. It is just human nature. We, as guests, want to feel welcome and not just invited, so the gift you bring gets there. Ultimately, we want to enjoy the experience so much that we will remember it for years to come!
Janice Livingston, Owner
Considering an elopement? Visit our Elopement Website at https://www..elopetothesmokymountains.com.