Photo: Christina McNeill
You've spent months planning every detail of your wedding, and when the day comes, you and your soon-to-be spouse will know exactly what's going on. But your guests? They know you're engaged, got their save the dates, and are waiting for the eight-week mark to get your invitations. But beyond what is on those pieces of paper, they have no idea what to expect on your wedding day. There are some things, however, that you may not want to keep a surprise. After all, a well-informed guest is a happy guest! Whether it's by word of mouth, in an insert in your invitation, or on your wedding website, we talked to Viva Max Kaley, New York-based wedding planner and creator of Viva Max Weddings, about the six things your guests want to know before your wedding.
1. The Dress Code
Including the dress code on your invitation is a key detail you don't want to overlook. "People genuinely want to arrive in the appropriate attire — no one wants to be the one guest who is way overdressed or underdressed and feeling sloppy," says Kaley. "Be a kind host and give them a little direction so they can arrive feeling beautiful and confident." Try to keep the descriptions clear (creativity is fun as long as it makes sense!), and offer a more detailed explanation on your website.
2. Which Shoes to Wear
If you're getting married at a church and celebrating in a ballroom, you can skip this one. "But if guests need to be aware of rocky paths, soft grass, or sand, mention it in advance. Think about whether your wedding could be uncomfortable (or even dangerous!) for guests in stilettos, and give the fashionable a heads-up," Kaley explains. If you don't want to reveal every detail of your wedding day, a quick note on your website saying "We'll be outside for a portion of the evening, so ladies, please opt for wedges or thick heels over stilettos" will get the point across without letting them know about the sunset cliffside cocktails you've got planned.
3. Who is Giving a Toast
It's a sweet way to include people you care about in your celebration, and anyone you invite to give a toast will appreciate the advanced notice so they have time to prepare. "If they're being given this honor, they are probably close family members or friends and will take the role seriously. Don't wait until the last minute to announce that you'd like them to speak — it puts more pressure on them than is necessary. Also, be sure to tell them when during the wedding they'll be speaking!" Kaley says. And since speaking at a wedding is such a special role, this is the type of information you should share via phone call — or even better, over a cup of coffee in person — so you can discuss all the specifics.
4. How They Will Get Around
Whether it's simply directions to the venue and parking information, or the specifics about the shuttles you'll be providing, let guests know about transportation well in advance so they don't make any unnecessary plans. "If guests are staying in your hotel block, let them know when shuttles will be leaving, or if they should drive or call a local taxi company. If they're staying elsewhere, let them know if they can park at the hotel and hop on the shuttle, or other ways to get to the venue," says Kaley. "Put this information on your website when you send out save the dates, so guests can keep it in mind as they make travel plans. You could also include an insert in your invitation if it fits in your budget."
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5. Other Wedding-Related Events
Are you inviting everyone to welcome drinks the night before, or a brunch the morning after? Let your guests know in advance so they can plan their travel accordingly. "Additional activities and events can impact how much time guests will want to request off from work, what time they book their flights for, and things like securing early check-in or late check-out at their hotel," explains Kaley. "Even if you aren't planning additional events, if you have a large number of out-of-town guests, be sure to provide recommendations for local restaurants and attractions, as well as practical things like markets and pharmacies so they can plan their weekend with ease." If you're inviting everyone to join you, put this information on your website. Otherwise, print inserts for the invitation suite to include for only the guests who are invited to specific events, or put together an email invite.
6. If You Got the Gift
"Guests spent time picking out gifts for you, and want to know if it made it to you safely!" says Kaley. Be sure to send thank you notes in a timely manner. If you won't be able to get the note out within a week, send a quick email to say that you received their gift, how much you love it, and that they should keep an eye on their mailbox for a note from the two of you.