The focus of your wedding day is undoubtedly you and your fiancé, but that doesn’t mean that you should forget your guests. Many of them have traveled from far places, paid for gas or flights, purchased a gift, and taken a leave from the usual responsibilities and obligations. Indeed, the time and financial investment to attend a wedding can be significant.
Here are a number of things you can do to show your guests how grateful you are to have them with you on your special day:
· Have an Open Bar. Cash bars are a big no-no, unless you charge your friends when having a drink at your place. I suggest offering complimentary beer and wine. Most venues and caterers offer beer kegs or reasonably priced beer bottles, as well as house wines. For the dinner, I recommend Zinfandel, which is a great red wine that will keep you in budget. As for white, try Riesling.
· Invite your friend, plus one! If your guest is married, engaged, or in a relationship, their spouse, fiancé, boyfriend or girlfriend should be in the mix. Even if you don’t know their companion, it is polite to ensure that your invitation is open to them.
· Focus on the menu! It seems like a no-brainer, but please don’t skimp on the food. Treat your guests to a nice meal. Your food and alcohol will take up the largest part of your catering budget, so try to offer some good choices. The trick here is to get creative. Ask your caterer for menu ideas that can help you to control your costs. Consider an Italian pasta station, a Chinese wok station, or even a build-your-own taco bar. You could also take your guests on a world tour, and serve a little bit of everything! One last thing, don’t forget your vegetarian guests.
I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, so in order to provide both yourself and your guests with a better overall wedding experience, be open to cutting down the number of attendees. Indeed, a mistake that many couples make is “over inviting.”
· Music. Having a sub-par DJ or cheesy wedding singer (think Adam Sandler movie!) could make for a very long and potentially uncomfortable night. The music makes the party. Take your time to meet the DJ or band, read reviews, and see them in action, if possible. You also can consider asking your guests for a song that they would want to be played at your wedding. You may not be able to grant all requests (you can refuse to play the “Chicken dance” at your wedding!), but this is a special touch that would make your guests feel part of the celebration.
· The ‘looong’ slide show. I don’t get too excited about slide shows, but some couples do and that is perfectly fine. The last wedding I attended had a lot more pictures of the bride than the groom and only a handful of the two of them. What’s up with that? First off, keep your slide show to under five minutes or less. Any longer and the guests will get restless. Try to have some balance to the presentation – show shots of the bride, the groom, the two together (the engagement, if you have some pics of that day), and some of the bride and groom as kids. The ones done well may have everyone with a teary eye!
· Say thank you. It doesn’t matter how, but please do. Take time to walk around the reception to greet and thank your guests for coming. After you return from your honeymoon, prepare and send a hand-written note to again thank guests – for their presence/presents!
Finally, I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, so in order to provide both yourself and your guests with a better overall wedding experience, be open to cutting down the number of attendees. Indeed, a mistake that many couples make is “over inviting.” A overly ambitious guest list can translate into cost overruns and can dilute the wedding event itself.
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