Ultimately, your wedding day is about celebrating the love between you and the person you're about to marry. But there's another goal at hand: Throwing one seriously epic party that your guests will talk about for years to come. But how do you make your big day stand out among the throngs of weddings your family and friends have attended in the past? Ahead, 20 sure-fire tips that will leave your guests impressed. Including even just a handful of these standout ideas will turn your wedding day into an event to remember.
Keep Your Ceremony Brief
Don't get us wrong, your friends and family are there to see you get married—but no one wants to watch a drawn-out ceremony. Keep the actual proceedings (not including entrances and exits) around 20 minutes so you won't lose anyone's attention.
Choose a Personalized Program
While we're on the topic of the ceremony, don't forget about creating a wedding program. By personalizing this piece of stationery with interesting details about you and your partner, a breakdown of the ceremony's proceedings, and any important information they should know (like a translation of traditional vows or a note to let guests know not to take photos), you'll capture their attention and get all of those key details across. Plus, it will keep them busy if the event runs a little late.
Use a Wedding App or Hashtag
There are many great wedding apps to choose from. Some interactive ones allow guests to upload wedding photos to one curated place, while others keep your friends and family up to date on any wedding-related news. Want something even easier? Create a clever hashtag and ask guests to tag all of their photos using it.
Give Out-of-Town Guests a Welcome Bag
Whether you're hosting a destination wedding or hometown bash, some of your guests have to travel to be a part of your day. To show your appreciation, give welcome bags for guests staying at hotels. Include a few snacks, bottles of water, and a list of local spots, like the nearest drug store, restaurants, and coffee shops, plus any nearby attractions.
If you're able to splurge, throw in a bottle of wine, tasty local treats like an artisanal cheese or candy, and a guidebook.
Greet Each Guest
It may sound obvious, but it's important to personally greet each and every guest at your wedding. Once the celebration is underway, do your best to spend time with each person—whether that means chatting over a cocktail, visiting their table at dinner, or letting loose on the dance floor.
Create a Well-Planned Seating Chart
It doesn't matter if your reception dinner will be a buffet, plated meal, or family-style servings: A smart seating chart is vital to ensuring your guests have a good time. Try to group people together with similar backgrounds and interests, so they'll have something to talk about even if they've never met before.
Splurge on the Open Bar
While open bars can be pricey, there are ways to make it work on any budget. Consider offering just beer and wine or a few cocktail options if you need to cut back, but don't ask family and friends to open their wallets.
Have a Signature Cocktail
Speaking of cocktails, serve one or two delicious customized drinks. It'll offer you huge savings if you forgo a full bar, and it makes your reception feel so personal. You and your partner should each pick a concoction, but try to select drinks that are palatable for a wide array of people.
Make Sure Your Guests Are Comfortable
No matter what time of year you're tying the knot, it's important to think about what your guests might need to stay comfortable throughout the evening. That may mean offering wraps, parasols, or flip-flops.
Design a Lounge Area
Not every guest will want to dance all night. In fact, some may not want to hit the dance floor at all. Although reception tables are a fine place for friends and family to chat, offering a designated seating area is a nice touch. Lower the music, provide comfy chairs, and this will be a detail many guests will love.
Keep Speeches Short
Speeches are a necessary component of any wedding, but it's important to ensure they don't drag on for too long. Keep the toasts brief—no more than a few minutes per person—and have your DJ or bandleader prepared to make tasteful cut-offs.
Ask for Song Requests
Want to know the best way to get your guests out on the dance floor? Play the songs they actually want to hear. Have your DJ make an announcement that they'll be taking requests and watch the dance floor fill up when a crowd favorite comes on.
Create a DIY Bar
Whether it's an outdoor cigar bar, a build-your-own-biscuits bar during cocktail hour, or a sundae bar at dessert, your guests will love making (and eating) their own treats.
Have Phone Charging Stations
Offering charging stations is a very kind way to show guests you care about their personal needs. Plus, if you want to see tons of Instagram photos of your amazing reception, your friends and family will need battery life. Tuck them away near the bathroom or entrance. (Don't forget to include a sign with your hashtag too.)
Play Wedding Games
When guests need a break from dancing, what's more fun than an interactive game? Options like bocce ball, oversize Jenga, and backgammon are fun ways to get your friends and family to interact with each other.
Serve Late-Night Snacks
Yes, you're having dinner and dessert, but those are typically devoured hours before the reception actually ends. And with couples extending their parties later and later, it's likely that more than just a few of your guests will be thinking of a tasty late-night snack. Have your caterer bring out handheld options like sliders and fries, mini grilled cheeses, or coffee and donuts about an hour before the reception ends to revive revelers.
Give a Favor People Will Use
Trust us, people don't want a framed photo of you and your new spouse. If you're going to spend the money on favors, select something your guests won't leave on the table. Mini bottles of bubbly, a yummy snack like cookies or popcorn, or a treat they can enjoy once back at home like jam or syrup are all crowd-pleasers.
Skip Traditions That Don't Fit Your Style
Some couples don't want to toss the bouquet or the garter, while others would prefer not to wait until the ceremony for their first look. If you just can't imagine partaking in one of these traditions, don't do it—after all, it's your wedding.
Make a Memorable Exit
No one wants your wedding night to end, but since it has to, go out on a high note. Do a fun and festive farewell, like a fireworks show, sparkler exit, or confetti send-off. Your guests will love it, and it will make for some amazing photos.