During my last wedding, I had a guest come up to me and tell how amazing everything was and how it was one of the best weddings she had every been too. Had I not been super busy making sure the event went off perfectly, I would have asked her why. Later on during my drive home, it got me thinking about what made the wedding I planned so different from the one she did not enjoy. I went to good ole Facebook and started asking my friends (non-wedding peeps) to share with me their worst experiences at a wedding. I could not believe how many people had the same complaints. Some complaints were pretty basic rules of manners, some where from lack of planning and other were poor vendor choices.
To help future brides and grooms avoid these mistakes, here is a list of the biggest mistakes couples make and how to avoid them and give your guest a great experience.
Complaint 1 – “It’s too hot or cold for an outdoor wedding.”
How your guests see it: “The bride and groom did not care about guest comfort.”
So, this one hits as the top complaint among guest. If you have an outdoor wedding you need to plan ahead for the weather and for the comfort of your guest. In Florida the hottest months of the year are June, July and August, with storm season as August- September. Trying to plan an outdoor ceremony during these months without a tent, without fans, cold water or some kind of shade protection is just asking for trouble. Would you really want your parents or grandparents sitting in 100 degree weather for almost 40 minutes? If it’s going to be hot make sure you have shade protection (tents, paroles, fun sunglasses, fan programs, under a beautiful tree ) for your guest. Make sure your guest have cool water to drink while they wait. If it is going to be cold out, a few heaters will go far in making your guest happy, pre-ceremony hot chocolate or a coffee bar would be an even better treat. (Be sure to read our post on hosting a thoughtful outdoor wedding for a full set of etiquette.)
Complaint 2 – “Not enough space or seats.”
How your guests see it: “They want me to stand or sit in a strangers lap for four hours. I would rather leave early.”
Here’s the problem: your venue tells you it can hold up to 200 guests. What they don’t tell you is that it holds 200 without a dance floor with up to 12 people per table. So, now you have people literally sitting on top of one another to make room for the dance floor, the dessert table, and the entertainment. Not cool. Ask to see an example floor plan to make sure your venue will have space for all the things you want and for the number of guests you expect.
Keep in mind – 60in round tables hold eight guests per table comfortably and 72in rounds can hold 10 guest comfortably. While there might seem to be room for more guests per table, there isn’t. Squishing each person elbow to elbow with their table members for an entire meal isn’t exactly a way to say “thank you for coming, enjoy this beautiful dinner!”
Skipping dinner? Even if you’re hosting a cocktail reception, there needs to be a place for guests to rest. Not everyone at your wedding is going to be able to sit on those two beautiful rental settees and wingback chairs – but they’re still going to want to park it somewhere. Including enough tables and chairs for guests to relax and chat during your reception is the easiest way to make sure everyone feels accounted for and comfortable.
Complaint 3 – “It’s too loud or the service was not good.”
How your guests see it: “They are sitting right next to the DJ and are blasted by sound all night long. The food/caterer service was not fast enough or did not pick up enough.”
A great DJ will double check the sound quality from around the room to make sure it’s not blaring people other seats. Hiring an experienced professional who knows to look over these details is the easiest way to ensure your guests can still hear when they leave your wedding celebration! As for guests complaining about service, perhaps it’s because they waited longer than expected for dinner. The best fix? Opt for a plated meal. Sit down dinners mean more servers per table and less cattle herding to the the buffet line (plus you’re cutting out the time-sucking indecision once they make it to the spread!).
Bar line longer than desirable? Of course, it’s obviously helpful to have more bartenders (which means paying for said extra staffers). But if you’re looking to cut the line back, consider having a water and tea station, or add on a wine service to your dinner tables. That way, the only ones at the bar are the ones opting for the hard stuff.
Complaint 4 – “Inappropriate attire.”
How your guests see it: “Why did they not let us know in advance that we would be outside, have to walk through sand or that dress attire was required?”
With this, wedding websites help tremendously. You can let your guests know in advance where your wedding is, what the weathers going to be like and what attire is appropriate. For formal events make sure you also note on your invite that it will be formal or black tie.
Complaint 5 – “Holiday weddings such as New Year’s.”
How your guests to see it: “They’re asking me to leave my family on a holiday, pay for extra airfare and hotel fees.”
If you’re planning a wedding on a specific holiday, you need to make sure that your guest have an amazing experience that rivals traditional holiday plans. Guest gift baskets in the hotel rooms can go along way to making guest feel like you took the time to think about them. Making special group childcare arrangements can really help your guests out should you opt for an adults only celebration.
Bottom line, the guest experience is important. You and your fiance took the time to invite (and pay!) for them to attend your day, so make it worth their while. Be a good hostess! After all, this is the first party you and your new spouse will ever host – don’t you want your loved ones to have a good impression on your future events? If you invited guest into your home and they had a bad experience you would be devastated – so don’t make the same mistakes at such a big event. Your guests may not remember what your centerpieces looked like or what song you swayed to during your first dance – but they will always remember how they were treated.