Jen Doll, the author of Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest, has been to nearly 30 weddings and written about more than a dozen in her new book (available now). Here, she uses her personal experiences to break down how a bride can host a wedding that's memorable — for all of the right reasons.
1. Embrace the Unexpected
There have been surprises at each wedding I've attended: The ice swans that collapsed; the bouquet that landed on the floor in front of my feet; the romantic liaisons no one predicted; the allergic reactions. Memorable wedding-day experiences (the good ones and the bad ones) ensure your guests will never forget yours — nor how cool-as-a-cucumber you managed to stay through it all. If something goes wrong, acknowledge it, but don't focus on it. Instead, focus on the loved ones who helped get you through it.
2. Make Time for Your Friendships
The best weddings I've attended are not the ones that had the perfect food, drinks, or flowers, but those at which I've felt deliberately included and valued as a participant on that day. You'll be busy and concerned about all of the wedding-day details, but just remember to let your guests know that this event wouldn't be the same without them.
3. Be Direct, Not Dictatorial
Of course, you would never issue bridezilla-esque decrees, demanding guests dress in a certain way, diet or go tanning, or buy presents of a specific dollar amount. It is, however, acceptable and beneficial to be direct about what you want in a way that acknowledges the autonomy and adulthood of the guests. Saying, "I would love you to do X or Y," and listening to a friend's response, sounds much better than, "You must to do this."
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4. Consider Plus-Ones and Other Policies With Your Guests in Mind
If most other guests are paired off, or if you're asking guests to travel a long way for a destination, do your single friends a favor and give them the option of bringing a date. Also put some time into considering, and possibly jettisoning, any traditions single ladies may not enjoy, like the bouquet toss.
5. Make Sure It's Fun For You
One key thing that can keep a wedding from being great? If the bride herself isn't having a good time. When planning your event, be honest with your friends and yourself about what will be most enjoyable. Most of all, the guests want you to feel fantastic on your big day.