While your wedding is, of course, about what you and your fiancé want, keeping the guest experience in mind will go a long way in creating your happily ever after. With that in mind, here are eight things friends and family secretly wish you'd do at your wedding.
1. Demystify the Dress Code
Attire wording on invitations has become an art unto itself, points out wedding planner Amy Shey Jacobs, President of Chandelier Events. "Festive Chic. Dress to the Nines. Beach Elegance. Dress to impress. But gone are the days of the simple, straightforward Black Tie." She recommends going with Formal, Semiformal, Cocktail Attire, etc. or be prepared for questions when invites arrive. Still love the new creative touch? "Consider a What to Wear insert card or page on your wedding website!"
2. Do Away with Assigned Seats
Most wedding guests really wish the bride and groom wouldn't assign specific seats at the dinner table during the wedding reception, notes wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques. "It's enough to be assigned to sit at a specific table, but they definitely do not like being told where at the table to sit, especially if they're not close with the other guests seated there or if the seating plan separates them from their own spouse or date."
3. Stop Playing Matchmaker
One thing your single guests really wish you wouldn't do? Try to set them up with your cousin/frat brother/sorority sister (you get the point here) by seating them at the same table next to each other, says Laura Ritchie of Grit & Grace Inc. "Instead organically introduce them at cocktail hour and let nature takes its course. No one wants to be stuck next to someone they are supposed to 'love' only to find out its a total mismatch."
4. Invest in the Booze Instead of All the Other "Extras"
According to Ritchie, guests secretly wish you'd get rid of the favors and sparkler exit and splurge on having liquor, beer and wine at the reception. "No one leaves a wedding yearning for that last piece of gold wrapped chocolate when instead that money could have been used to upgrade the bar." Amen!
5. Don't Interrupt the Party for the Cake Cutting
We know it's important to you, however, to your guests? Not so much. They secretly don't care about stopping the party to watch you do the cake cutting, reveals Ritchie. Make everyone happy and make this a private event during dinner with your parents (and perhaps bridal party) standing around. "Grab the quintessential picture and then be done with it. The caterer will have more time to slice and serve cake later, and you won't be interrupting that killer dance party down the road."
6. Serve Scrumptious Late Night Snacks
Think crowd pleasers! For example, in Southern California, the In-N-Out Burger Cookout Trailer is where it's at, tells planner Brooke Keegan of Brooke Keegan Special Events. "You can never go wrong with a crowd favorite!" And your tipsy guests will totally thank you.
7. Help Them Get There Easy
In terms of invites, guests super appreciate having all of the wedding details and any directions or maps included with the invitation, says invitation designer Danielle Behar. "This allows for your guests to arrive on time and in a good mood and what bride wants frustrated guests arriving on your dream day? Having a wedding website where guests can go to check any last minute updates is a simple but key touch." And if you can afford it, transportation to and from the wedding will always win over your crowd.
8. Make the Dinner Reception Feel More Like a Party
And not a snooze fest! This can be done in a variety of ways, says Anthony Navarro, founder of Liven It Up Events. "First, have the bar only closed for a short time. Normally, if you're switching rooms from cocktail hour to dinner and dancing, the bar can close during this transition, but otherwise, should be open throughout the evening."
Second, have the band playing as your friends and family enter the room. "They can take their seats or make their way to the dance floor." Limit the number of speeches throughout dinner and keep them short and sweet, he suggests. "As opposed to offering a plated meal, set up food stations throughout your reception area but still have a seat, assigned or not." This enables interaction and mingling and creates that coveted party atmosphere.