You've spent far too much time, energy and effort (not to mention money) planning your wedding to have guests plotting their escape plan before you've made your exit. So how do you ensure your friends and family keep on fist pumping (or you know...just hanging out) until the very end then? While some folks will want to call it an early night for reasons out of your control, there are a few things that tend to either put guests to sleep or turn them off.
1. There are a billion "business" breaks.
The dinner, speeches, toasts, first dance and even the cake cutting all fall under "business'", according to celebrity event planner and co-founder of Your BASH!, Brian Worley. His suggestion? Get the business out of the way ASAP (for example, cut the cake immediately after dinner) to avoid the inevitable dip in energy that occurs each time there's a break — energy that's difficult to get back.
If your crowd isn't exactly the party type, however, then you may want to spread those moments out, says NY-based wedding planner Viva Max Kaley, creator of Viva Max Weddings. "This way, more guests will wait around so they don't miss a thing."
2. The DJ can't read the crowd.
We've all left a club or bar early because the DJ — for lack of a better word — sucked. On the flip side, we've all lost track of time dancing until the break of dawn because the DJ rocked. "The entertainment you choose is crucial to the longevity of a wedding," explains Worley. "I always recommend hiring a DJ or a band that can not only play anything, but also has the ability to read the crowd's energy and play the right songs that'll keep them on the dance floor."
3. The music is too loud.
You may be a big fan of raves, but your grandma? Er, not so much. As Kaley warns, "Those guests who start to have trouble holding an audible conversation may lose interest if they can't hear what anyone is saying over the music." To appease everyone, she advises creating a bar or lounge area where the jams are a little softer so your friends with two left feet and bad ears can gather to talk and enjoy each other's company away from the dance floor.
4. They have a long drive home.
If a big percentage of your guests have a long drive home that night and you've planned a late-night wedding, it may be wise to reconsider the start and end times, as well as transportation, points out Kaley. "You want everyone to have fun, but you also want them to get home safely. Hire a bus to bring the group to and from a more central location so guests don't have to drive as much," she offers.
5. Guests get the munchies.
Food will perk your sleepy (and tipsy) friends right up; trust us! Otherwise, they'll be ditching your wedding for the drive-through. "Creative late night snacks or a candy buffet provide the necessary sugar high to jolt some much-needed energy back into the party," notes Worley.
6. They don't really know anyone.
Your guests who only know a few people at the wedding may dip out early for that very reason. To keep them around and engaged, Kaley suggests providing activities that allow people to meet and interact. "Have trivia questions on tables for guests to answer or a board where they can post fun facts about the couple. This can, in turn, serve as a conversation starter." Another idea she has would be to assign a few close friends and family to be connectors and introduce guests during cocktail hour.