5 Ways You’re Putting too Much Pressure on Wedding Guests

Wedding guests sitting at a reception table.

Being able to spend time and celebration with the people you love most in the world—the guests at your wedding—is one of the greatest parts of your big day. But is it possible that you’re expecting too much from your wedding guests? Are you being clear and reasonable with them? Here are some ways you might be asking too much of your wedding guests, and some suggestions for how to avoid these stressors so you all have an amazing time on your big day!

1. Planning too Many Wedding-Related Activities

This is applicable for both before the wedding day and for the wedding weekend itself—do not plan so many wedding-related activities that your guests get burned out before the ceremony even begins! Particularly for a wedding where you know guests are traveling to be there, it’s a great idea to have some activities and events planned to help folks feel grounded and a part of the celebration—but it’s also important to give your guests some breathing room. If they’ve traveled for your celebration, they are likely considering this trip a vacation of sorts, and vacations sometimes need a little rest and relaxation in order to be refreshing. If possible, consider providing guests with information about fun places to go, see, or eat in the area and leaving an afternoon free for them to do it rather than scheduling a weekend where every minute is filled to the brim with events around the nuptials.

2. Too Much Time Between Events

A lounge area with vintage furniture set up at a wedding reception for guests.

It’s understandable that couples wouldn’t want to miss a single second of their wedding celebration, but having a large (read: anything more than one hour) break between the ceremony and cocktail hour where folks need to find their own place to be until the next part of the event, is an inappropriate expectation to place on your guests. They are there to celebrate your wedding and making them entertain themselves for a few hours while you get your photos taken elsewhere just isn’t acceptable. Having a space for your guests to hang out and have hors d’oeuvres and drinks while they wait for you is just fine, but sending them off on their own for a few hours—presumably to wander around an unfamiliar town in wedding attire?—is expecting way too much.

3. High-End Registries

It’s perfectly fine and even suggested to have items on your registry that run the gamut in price point, including things on the higher end. (You may have loved ones who would prefer to bless you and your spouse-to-be with a bigger ticket item that you may not normally purchase for yourself.) However, it isn’t okay to provide only higher-end options and nothing else. This will make guests who love you and want to support you—but may not be able to afford a bigger ticket item as a gift, feel uncomfortable. It could even prevent them from attending the wedding at all if they feel they can’t afford an appropriate gift. This is, of course, not what you want by any means. That’s why it’s so important to have a large range of price point options on your registry that makes it clear to guests their presence is the most important thing and that any gift item at any price point would be truly appreciated by you.

4. Unclear Dress Code Expectations

Wedding guests in fancy attire cheering with champagne.

If you know you have specific expectations for what your guests will wear on your big day, you need to be clear and explicit about it. Include informative phrases such as “black tie” or “cocktail attire” to the lower right hand corner of your wedding invitations, or on your wedding website. Many guests are apprehensive about being dressed incorrectly for weddings, but without clear cues from you, they may still feel lost and could absolutely show up dressed inappropriately for your event. Some couples think that the tone and style of their invitation suite will make the dress code clear enough—and that can certainly help give your guests clues as to the type of event you’re throwing—but at the end of the day, being clear and explicit with your expectations will avoid the confusion altogether.

5. Helping with the Wedding

Of course, your close friends and family will be more than happy to help you set up and take down decor and other items on your big day, but don’t expect guests to participate in those aspects. Make sure you provide adequate time to get the venue ready and most certainly do not end your event early so that guests can just help you “clean up a few things.” Guests are there as just that—guests—and their responsibility begins and ends with supporting the couple and celebrating their special day—not cleaning the venue or taking out reception trash. If guests insist on helping, there’s not much you can do to stop them, but having that expectation is too much to ask.

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