Flashback: Avoiding The Top Guest Complaints
Note: This wedding planning article was originally posted in April 2010
It's so common for brides to come to me with ideas of how they want things to be- whether it be the seating of the guests, when the pictures happen, and more. Sometimes the ideas are great and fine, and other times...well.
Don't get me wrong- I want your wedding to be all about you, I truly do, but the reality of it all is that the wedding is about you and your fiance, and...your guests too. After all, they are the ones that dropped everything, took time off work, pulled the kids out of school, and traveled (cross country, cross state, or cross town- it's all the same in their eyes) to see you two shine on this one big day. So do be prepared to make some compromises...you'll much rather receive the compliments rather than hear about the complaints. Without further adieu, the top complaints from the mouths of your guests (and some to-the-rescue tips to avoid mishaps):
1) Seating the wrong guest in the wrong area.
When you figure the amount of decibels your DJ or Band has to put out to make sure the sound carries through your 200 guests and still make it to the back of the room, it's no wonder grandmas and grandpas salute the idea of moving them as far away from the speakers as possible.
Rule of thumb: always put the younger folk nearest the speakers. Still need a spot for grandma? Try putting her near a bathroom or somewhere with a clear path to and from the refreshments. You don't want to see grandma hurdling a sea of furniture.
While we're still on #1, I'd also like to mention larger guests. Though it's not always completely possible to fulfill everyone's wishes, it is always a nice gesture to try to put your larger guests in an area that he or she won't have to continually move in their chair or stand up each time someone walks by.
2) The toasting keeps going..and going...
It may be hilarious to listen to your best man ramble about each year in elementary school, but we guarantee you your guests will begin to get antsy after about 20 minutes max. And the "inside jokes" only you and your maid of honor know about? Not cool, and actually kind of awkward for your guests, especially when you blush.
Rule of thumb: Avoid "passing the mic"...instead appoint the exact guests that will be presenting a toast (I recommend no more than three if you can) and stick to the schedule. Let your toasters know in advance that you'd like the messages to be short, sweet, and G- Rated.
3) Where are the bride and groom?
Traditions will be traditions, so if you really don't want to see each other before the ceremony, that's definitely your decision to make. Scheduling does get a little tight in this scenario, and your guests will not appreciate waiting 2 hours for you and your new hubby to make an appearance at the reception.
Rule of thumb: If you're not seeing each other, make sure you take as many pictures as possible before the ceremony (i.e.: bride with bridesmaids, groom with groomsmen, bride's side of the family, etc), and keep the photos after the ceremony to no more than 45 minutes. Regardless of whether or not you provide food and beverages to your guests while you're gone, they will still feel very uncomfortable with the guests of honor missing in action.
4) The gap between the ceremony and reception
We've posted on this conundrum before, and though you can try lessening the discomfort, your guests are still going to find it different. Fact of the matter is, they automatically expect one thing to follow another.
Rule of thumb: If you do have to have a gap, make sure there are organized activities for your guests (did you see the emphasis on organized?). We're talking pre-arranged transportation (such as a trolley tour here in Boise) to take them to and fro. Make it a neat experience, especially if your guests are from out of town- show them around! Have it printed in your informational enclosures with your invite or on your wedding website so they know what to expect in advance. Your guests will thank you for it.
5) Where do we go?.... And who is that?
We've posted about this issue before too...it's what we at Soiree call the Deer In Headlight syndrome. Here's how it goes: you have your ceremony, well wishes, and then you expect 200 people to find their seats. Magically, it does not go well. Pretty soon there's a bottleneck at the door, seats are propped up against the tables in an effort to "save a seat" or to be able to sit next to someone they know. Sound like a vision?
Rule of thumb: At the very least, please assign your tables. Even a BBQ-style, casual dinner needs some structure- especially if you've got, oh say, over 10 guests attending.
If you will have assigned seating (applauding), be very in tune to who you place next to whom. You can't win all the battles, but if you know someone is going to be at a table with no one they know, be a good hostess and move them next to a friend.
And that wraps us up on 5 of the most common complaints we wedding professionals hear much too often. And how about you- have you been a guest at a wedding and in a situation you did not appreciate? Do tell.