How to Keep Your Guests Happy (and Keep the Wrong Ones Out)

How do you politely lay down the law to your invited wedding guests, and avoid those unpleasant surprises? Just follow this guide.

  • Make your invitation clear. Spell out who is invited, and ask which of the people on the invitation will attend. That way, you won’t get someone showing up on his first date with an uninvited guest, or someone bringing children when the children weren’t invited. 
  • Simple seating rules. Don’t pack the dining room to capacity. Guests need room to move their elbows and walk between tables. Short centerpieces let guests see the people on the other side of the table. If you can’t seat an entire bloc of friends at a single table, try to seat the rest at an adjacent table.
  • The right way to pick your date. Once you’ve determined a few dates when the church/temple and reception venue are both available, ask the people closest to you which date is best for them. Then send out your save-the-date cards months in advance, to give everyone else a chance to work your wedding into their schedules.
  • Plan for unwanted weather. Summer? Provide fans, sunglasses, sunblock and water for an outdoor ceremony. Fall? Provide lap blankets or heaters in case it’s colder than you expected. Rain? Have an indoor backup plan for your ceremony.
  • Take your stock photos before the ceremony. It’s unfair to subject your guests to two hours of cocktails and rumbling stomachs while your photographer shoots hundreds of extra poses.
  • Keep your ceremony and reception close together. Don’t separate them by three hours and leave your out-of-town guests with nowhere to go in a strange town. 
  • An open bar is a must. A cash bar is tacky. If your budget is tight, serve only beer, wine and a signature cocktail. Otherwise, let the booze flow.
  • Check your food in advance. Have a place on your invitations for guests to list any dietary restrictions. Attend a tasting, to be sure your venue or caterer serves tasty food.
  • Keep the wedding toasts brief. Tell your chosen speakers that your DJ will “play them off the stage” with increasingly loud theme music if they get too long-winded. Then tell the DJ to do just that.
  • Be there! Your guests are there to see you. It’s okay to step away for some brief private moments, but not for a half hour or an hour at a time. You’re the reason they’re all there. Be gracious and generous with your face time.

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2015 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.   

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