Whether your wedding budget doesn’t allow for any plus-ones or you have guests attending without a date by choice, you don’t want any of your single friends feeling singled out. Hosting an event that makes everyone feel included and comfortable will ensure that your solo guests have just as much fun as those who are paired up. Here are some great ways to make your big day a memorable one for all.
Connect your guests before the wedding
Try to ensure that there are some people your single friends know before the wedding. Pre-wedding celebrations are ideal opportunities for guests to meet before the big day. “Have a party at your home and invite close friends that might not be in the same circle, so there will be some familiarity at the wedding” says Anthony Navarro of Liven It Up Events. Also consider having a more casual rehearsal dinner for single members of your bridal party to get to know everyone.
If you’re having a destination wedding, make your single guests feel more at ease by putting them in touch with each other to coordinate travel arrangements. “If you have a lot of singles attending, ask your wedding planner to help you come up with a plan to connect guests via email or the wedding website, so that they can perhaps share rooms or rides,” says Michelle Rago of Michelle Rago Destinations. “Your planner may also be able to create a dedicated email address, so that guests can reach out to the planner’s team for any assistance.”
Make the event interactive
Making the wedding less traditional and more interactive is one of the best ways to make your single friends feel included. “Not drawing attention to the fact that they’re unattached will encourage guests to engage,” says Navarro. “For example, scratch the bouquet and garter toss. It can be embarrassing, let alone outdated, to have 'Single Ladies' playing while trying to fight for the bouquet.” Instead, set up fun activities to get guests to mingle. “One of our recent couples hosted a cocktail-making competition during their welcome party, complete with teams and a judging panel. Guests who didn’t participate gathered to watch and the winning cocktail was served at the reception dinner cocktail hour,” says Rago.
For a wedding weekend, arrange meeting spots where guests can congregate during downtime. “We always have a DJ on hand at all of our destination weddings to make sure we can create a pop-up party or add background music to a beach day,” says Rago.
Field days and lawn games at weddings are all the rage. “We’re seeing more brides plan team games the day before the wedding, which allows single friends to meet and greet other guests in a fun, albeit sometimes competitive, environment,” says Lynn Easton of Easton Events. And don’t forget a cool after-party with inviting elements, such as a cocktail bar camper, boho tent seating area, food truck, or selfie photo booth.
Have a thoughtful seating plan
Open seating for the ceremony is a good way to start things off and a strategic seating plan at the reception will allow guests to get to know each other. “Don't relegate your single friends to a table that’s made up of all single people they’ve never met,” says Amy Nichols of Amy Nichols Special Events and Thumbtack Pro. Whether you serve the dinner plated or from unique food stations, seat single friends with others they may know or have heard about. “If you have a single friend from college, seat her with other friends she knows from school, regardless of whether those friends are also married or part of a couple,” says Nichols.
Include a conversation starter
Fun details in your table decor or surprising entertainment can get guests talking. “For one wedding where the bride’s and groom's sides didn't really know each another, we designed custom 'fun fact' cocktail napkins,” says Michelle Cousins of Michelle Leo Events. “There were three different style napkins, each including an interesting fact about the bride and groom, and they inspired guests to interact and share stories.” Live entertainment or music—such as steel drum players, samba dancers, or a mariachi band—can also be good icebreakers and get wallflowers out on the dance floor and socializing with other guests.
Serve family style
Serving dinner family style will create a sense of community through the passing of plates and platters, plus it lets you get creative with the menu and table decor. “This style of dining is perfect for breaking the ice with other guests and getting conversations started that will hopefully lead to a fun night of celebration,” says Cousins. And king’s table seating with 16 or more people allows singles to connect easily with other guests. “A larger, more communal table allows guests to feel more included than sitting at a round table of eight where it can be harder to converse with everyone,” says Gina Jokilehto-Schigel of Shi Shi Events. “The more guests at a table, the more convivial the time spent having dinner tends to be.”
See more: Single Women Get REAL About Weddings
Set up a chic lounge
An interesting lounge area is a great way for single guests to chat with your other friends and family in a relaxed environment or escape the dance floor for a bit, but still be part of the festivities. “Setting up a few different lounge areas, if space permits, is a nice touch,” says Sunna Yassin of Bash Please. “Place one lounge near the dance floor and another between the bar and a quiet area. You can also create a dessert lounge for guests to enjoy wedding cake and other desserts in an informal setting.”