I often hear from clients that their top priority is for guests to have a good time. They want guests to be comfortable, to have time mix and mingle and to dance. In the end they want their guests to say “ That was the BEST wedding Ever!” Below are a few ideas we offer our clients to ensure their guests have an unforgettable experience.
- A great guest experience begins with through and frequent communication about the what, where, when and how’s of your wedding weekend.
- The Wedding Website: Prior to sending Save the Date cards we instruct our couples to set up a wedding website. Begin with basic information like date, locations, hotel blocks and nearby airports. As you firm up plans continue to add information about the weekend to the site. Possibly reminding them that the wedding is in a field so flat shoes are advised. Let guests know if you will provide transportation to and from hotels and where and when the transportation will pick up and drop off. Let them know if there is an early bus from the reception. The website is a great place to convey information about your stance on children at the wedding. Gift Registry links are also great addition to your website. Including very detailed information on your website reduces the amount of calls and texts you will field from guests in those final weeks when you are busy finalizing details.
- Save The Date Cards – This is your initial piece of communication. Provide the link to your wedding website so guests can research costs of hotels and airfare to determine if it is financially feasible to attend the wedding.
- Invitation – The invitation gives guests a first glimpse of the look and feel of your wedding and asks your guests to confirm attendance and possibly make a meal choice. Increasingly our couples collect RSVP’s to their various wedding events ( reception, rehearsal dinner, brunch) via a link on the wedding website. Thru the RSVP link guests can indicate whether they plan to utilize transportation, or even request music they would like to hear. The invitation can also include information about the dress code for the wedding.
- Welcome Bags – For out of town guests staying in hotels the welcome bag or welcome note is another opportunity to remind and inform guests about the various activities, times, locations and dress codes. It is also a wonderful to express your appreciation that they took time to come celebrate your love.
- Hotels: When choosing hotels provide guests with at least two choices. We like to suggest two brands so reward points can be used and at differing price points to accommodate the budgets of all of your guests. All hotels should be in close proximity to the venues and possibly in a location that offers easy access to things to do and see in your area.
- Transportation: Providing transportation is a very welcoming touch. We find that guests don’t like to drive in unfamiliar cities, don’t like to drive when drinking, don’t like to drive on dark windy roads and don’t want to be late or get lost. If you are thinking about asking your guests to use Uber or Lyft be sure to ask your venue how reliable ride share services are in the evening. We find that riding the bus with other guests is a great way for them to bond and get to know one another. To ensure that everyone gets on the bus departing the hotels appoint a family member or friend to be a bus captain. Provide them with a list of guests who will ride transportation. The list can come from the hotel pick up report or from information collected on your wedding RSVP’s. Think about placing a case or two of bottled water on the bus going to the venue and back to the hotel at the end of the evening. This is especially welcome if it is a long ride or if the weather is warm.
Food and Beverage:
Just like entertaining in your own home take time to think about the various food preferences and needs of your guests. We find that many guests have food allergies or other dietary concerns. It is important to think about how to accommodate those needs. Your guests will certainly appreciate and enjoy the day if something is offered they can enjoy. Similarly when choosing the beer and wine or alcohol you plan to serve think about the preferences of your family and friends and make sure you can include a few of their favorite items.
If you are having an outdoor ceremony we strongly suggest a welcome beverage for guests to enjoy while waiting for the ceremony to begin. This can be as simple as fruit flavored water or lemonade.
We have observed many children at weddings and find the wedding day is very long for even the best children. At some point they will become bored. If you will include children at your reception. I recommend hiring a baby sitter who can entertain the children so their parents can enjoy the adult activities. Often it is feasible for the sitter to come to the venue and set up a special kid zone complete with toys ,games and snacks appropriate to age of the children. Alternatively, considering a “goodie bag” of age appropriate toys or activities and snacks to keep children occupied during dinner. Don’t forget to provide kiddie meals for kids under 12 years of age as well as high chairs for toddlers.
Bathroom Amenity Baskets, Flip Flops and Shawls:
We notice that guests love the thoughtful restroom amenity baskets. Inevitably a guest will find themselves in need of Advil, a tide pen for an unfortunate spill, a safety pin, bobby pin, tissues, Band-Aids, and other items. They will appreciate the thought. Flip flops are also a welcome relief for sore feet and a shawl takes care of the temperature changes that happen once the sun goes down.
Our final tip is to make sure the person providing sound for your ceremony and announcement and toasts provides quality equipment and knows how to mix sound.
There is nothing more annoying then guests not being able to hear your vows or the amazing stories your best man and maid of honor will tel.
We hope these tips get you thinking about how to welcome your guests and to ensure they have the time of their lives. Most of the tips are not costly but require you to think like a guest and consider what things would make your day great. It is all the smallest details that go a long way to creating an unforgettable day.