While my clients are my source of inspiration and my priority, and I look to each of my couples to make their wedding day a reflection of their love story, their styles and personalities, and the things they treasure the most, I’m also very mindful of how the experience feels from the guest’s perspective when planning a wedding. I’m all about hospitality, so that’s second nature to me, but I know that some people plan their wedding without much consideration for their guest’s experience, not because they mean to, but because it’s hard sometimes to put ourselves on the other side of things. We’ve all heard “it’s your day, do whatever you want”, “it’s all about you”, but really it isn’t so simple if you actually want to host a wedding your guests will enjoy attending.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it all starts with the two of you. Your wedding is the celebration of one of the biggest milestones in your lives and should be approached as such. It is about the two of you first, after all, it is your love story you’re celebrating! But creating an extraordinary experience for the people who took the time to come celebrate with you is just as important. This experience must be carefully curated and thought through.
Here are some tips on how to be mindful of your guest’s experience from the start, which in turn will make your wedding day one that your guests will love attending and will remember fondly for years to come.
Make sure your guests will be comfortable at your outdoor ceremony
This is so simple, yet often gets overlooked when the focus is solely on aesthetics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a designer, I’m all about aesthetics, but I believe even the most beautiful view and the most exceptional design elements combined will fall flat if people are too uncomfortable to appreciate it.
If it’s a hot day and you’re hosting your ceremony outdoors, provide shade in the ceremony area, if possible, either by setting up the ceremony under a nice tree canopy or by having it under a tent or existing structure. Make sure water and, if needed, bug spray is available for your guests upon arrival. You can also place small fans on each chair – these can also add a lovely design touch if done right.
If it’s a cold day and you’re outdoors, provide cozy blankets and if necessary, have heaters placed near the seating area. While feeling cold in a suit or formal gown is a lot less uncomfortable for a guest than being too hot in the same attire, it is still uncomfortable. You want guests to feel comfortable and excited while they anticipate the events of the evening.
Provide comfortable seating at your reception
Be thoughtful about the chairs you choose for the reception, not only because they’re important to help convey the design style, but also because they should be comfortable. Some chairs may be beautiful but prove incredibly uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time. The dining experience is a big part of the evening, but if guests are sitting uncomfortably while they eat, they likely won’t enjoy it as much. If fully cushioned chairs do not fit in the budget, it’s okay! You can still choose a chair within the budget that is comfortable to sit on.
As a bonus, provide lounge areas throughout the space if possible so guests can mingle in a more relaxed setting before and after dinner. Some people may worry that lounge areas will keep guests from hitting the dance floor, but I don’t find this to be true. People either like to dance or they don’t, and people who like dancing will not miss the chance to dance with everyone in lieu of sitting down.
Jacqui Cole Photography
Have a solid timeline and avoid delays
Even the best timelines may run into small delays sometimes, and that’s normal, but having long delays that make your guests feel like their time is not being appreciated does not set the right mood. Even if you’re normally a fashionably late person, aim to walk down the aisle on time, especially if guests have been sitting outdoors. A delay of 10 or 15 minutes is understandable if something arises, but a much longer delay will have at least some of your guests restless and likely to start dispersing, causing even longer delays to the overall wedding timeline. Being on time with the events leading up to the reception will allow you to enjoy the reception without feeling rushed or incurring extra fees. Keeping a good timeline is good for everyone, but especially appreciated by your guests.
In the end, people will always remember how they felt in any particular situation, that’s just how we work. It’s not about creating over-the-top experiences necessarily, but about being thoughtful. So keep good hospitality in mind as you plan your wedding and you’re sure to guarantee that your guests will have an amazing time and leave with fond memories of your wedding day.