You invited your nearest-and-dearest to your big day because it wouldn't be the same celebration without them there. It's nice to go above-and-beyond, our experts say, to make your guests feel welcome and comfortable on your wedding weekend by providing ways for them to get to know one another.
"A good host makes an effort to make all guests comfortable and confident," says Viva Max Kaley, New York-based wedding planner and creator of Viva Max Weddings. "Creating opportunity for your guests to get to know each other and bond is a great way to make sure people leave your wedding feeling like they had a warm and wonderful time." Here are six ways to do just that.
1. Connect your guests online.
Guests from afar can get to know one another long before your wedding day with a website used to share images and short blurbs about your guests, such as Guesterly, says Kaley. "Or, give people a sneak peek on your wedding website or maybe in the hotel gift bags so they can see who will be in attendance so they can peruse the guests and recognize them at the party."
2. Give guests a little team spirit.
Embrace the outdoors by asking guests to join you for touch football or an old-fashioned softball game at a local park, suggests Aviva Samuels, owner of Kiss the Planner in Palm Beach, Florida. "Print T-shirts in two of your wedding colors and hand them out wrapped up, so that the colors are hidden from view in order to randomly determine the teams," she adds. "There's nothing like team sports to create the spirit of camaraderie amongst strangers."
3. Organize a welcome drinks party.
It might be too expensive to invite every guest to your rehearsal dinner. So, instead, "it's nice to organize welcome drinks for everyone," Kaley says. "This can either be at the rehearsal dinner location after the dinner is done, or perhaps a casual meet up at a local bar with no real hosting role. Even if you are just buying drinks together at a local pub, it is a nice way to give your guests an opportunity to see you and meet other people prior to the wedding."
4. Get your game night on.
Everyone loves a good game night. But for this special occasion, "consider creating your own game show in which the guests compete to see who knows the couple the best," Samuels suggests. "Or break out the board games and card games and place them on various tables within one big room. Allow guests to choose their favorite game to play so that they will meet others that share their same gaming interests."
5. Provide a wedding-day activity.
While you're busy getting ready on your wedding day, don't forget your guests. "Organize an optional day time activity," suggests Kaley. "That can simply be a suggested lunch location. Perhaps you set up a nice sightseeing boat or trolley tour for guests to get to know the area and each other. Or, organize a time for everyone to meet at a local museum. Not everyone will attend most likely, but it does give people an opportunity to interact with each other before the party begins."
6. Use your wedding location for inspiration.
If all other inspiration fails, Samuels suggests turning to your location for creative ideas for a pre-wedding get-together. For example, she says, "if your wedding takes place in a big city, consider a scavenger hunt. Or, if your wedding is on the beach or in the country, pair a barbecue feast with beach games or a hayride."