Here’s How Couples Make Their Wedding Guests Feel Unwelcome

Chances are, you’ve attended a wedding or two, and encountered one or more of these unfortunate slights. They suggest the couple didn’t truly consider their guests’ comfort or convenience, and they left a bad taste in your mouth. To refresh your memory, ask yourself if you had to endure one of more of these indignities… and be sure you don’t subject YOUR guests to the same mistreatment.

The standing ceremony. Even if you expect your ceremony to last just one minute, provide ample seating for all of your guests. Remember, not all of your guests arrive 30 seconds before the ceremony, and many of them will have spent plenty of time standing around, shifting from side to side, by the time your ceremony actually begins. Make them comfortable.

The gap. The wedding ceremony is at 2pm, and the reception doesn’t start until 6pm. Oh, sure, it gives the newlyweds lots of time for pictures. But all of the guests have to find something to do, to fill that in-between time. It’s not enough time for leisurely sightseeing, or for much of anything else. Wouldn’t it be better to coordinate your ceremony and reception to be at the same venue, or a short distance — and time — apart? You can take all those pictures during cocktail hour.

The late start. “Gosh, we can’t start the ceremony until Aunt Frida gets here.” So dozens, or hundreds, of guests are forced to wait, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, for your ceremony. And if they’re outside in the hot sun, it feels like hours. To say nothing of the couples who brought fidgety and impatient small children. Your guests should be notified that the ceremony will start on time, and if they’re late, they can join it in progress.

Festival seating. Yes, creating a seating chart is a pain. You’re never sure who to seat next to whom. But imagine the chaos that’s going to happen if you skip the chart altogether, and let people choose their own seats. Oh, the first ones will get what they want; but every table will end up with single empty seats, and couples who arrive later will have to split up for dinner. After all, once a person takes a sip of water out of his glass, his seat is HIS, and he’s not going to move. Pain or no pain, make and post a seating chart.

Lines. How would you feel, being the 35th person in a couple’s receiving line? Your guests won’t feel any better about waiting behind dozens of people — each of whom wants to spend 15 minutes talking to the newlyweds. Skip the receiving line, and just visit some of your most important guests, like grandparents and out-of-town visitors, at their dinner tables. They’ll thank you for it.

Windbags. You’re hungry. But before you can eat dinner, you have to endure the wedding toasts and speeches. And there’s always one person, or two, who pull out 7 pages of notes and deliver a 20-minute rambling speech. By the time dinner is served, the speeches are drowned out by the rumbling of the guests’ stomachs. Don’t do that to YOUR guests. Tell your speakers to keep their remarks to 3 minutes or less; and if necessary, tell your DJ to “play them off” with exit music that gets progressively louder until they get the message that the speech is over.

Cash bar. Seriously? Any couple who makes their guests pay for their drinks should be required to notify them in advance. While they’re at it, the guests should be told to limit the value of their wedding gifts to $5 or less. After all, fair is fair. You can limit your alcohol selections to beer and wine if you like. But an open bar is just expected at a wedding. 

The Golden Rule applies. Do unto your wedding guests as you would have them do unto you. If they’re comfortable and well-fed, and they don’t have to spend much of your wedding day waiting, they’ll have a lot more energy left for dancing, where some of the day’s best memories are made. Take care of your guests, and they’ll love you for it.

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2016 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.  

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