What Wedding Guests Actually Care About

A sign at a wedding reception pointing to various locations like the photo booth and cocktail hour.

In planning your wedding day, you likely want everything to be perfect—and not just for you and your new husband or wife, but for your guests as well. Things can quickly get overwhelming when you get into the details. You might be wondering if your guests will like your decisions of if they will have a good time. While you may think people will be judgemental about everything on your special day, it’s very likely that quite the opposite is true. Wedding guests really don’t care about a lot of the things you think they will. However, there are a few key categories that they do care about. So if you want to save your time and energy, it’s better to focus on what guests will actually pay attention to.

An Invitation to Both the Ceremony and Reception

A wedding ceremony in a church with guests in the pews.

It’s considered rude to invite guests to the ceremony, but not the reception. The same applies in reverse. Guests are coming to your wedding to celebrate your union, so if they’re on the guest list give them the opportunity to attend both events.

A Short Ceremony and Speeches

Continuing on the entertainment topic—your goal should be that your guests are never bored. This means you should make the night as interesting as possible and avoid moments of dullness. While guests want to witness your vows and hear a touching speech or two, they don’t want either one to drag on forever. To keep your guests happy, keep everything short and sweet.

Good Food (And Enough of It)

A selection of cheese, fruit, and nuts at a wedding reception.

The quality and quantity of food at your reception should be one of the top priorities in your wedding planning. Nothing puts a damper on a party like a mediocre meal. While you don’t need to hire a five-star chef to prepare every dish, the food you serve should leave your guests satisfied. Your guests should never be left hungry, especially if the alcohol is free-flowing, so make sure you have plenty of food available throughout the night.

A Variety of Music

It’s likely going to be a long night, so there should be plenty for your wedding guests to see and do. Good music is the key to creating a lively atmosphere and keeping the party going. If you have a good mix of classic and contemporary hits and slow and fast songs, you can be sure everyone will have a good time. However, remember to keep the volume at a reasonable level so that people can still hold conversations. In addition, it might be worth it to invest in additional entertainment for the reception. This can be a cigar bar, flower crown making station, or even something out of the box like a magician. Guests who aren’t keen on dancing will appreciate it.

An Open Bar

Two women at a wedding reception holding pink cocktails.

The bar should also be at the top of your priority list. Make sure you have a good variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on hand and make sure there’s plenty of it. However much you think you’ll need, it’s always better to have more. If it fits in your budget, consider having an open bar; cash bars are arguably the number-one pet peeve of wedding guests.

A Comfortable Venue

Consider the comfort of your guests when choosing the venue. For an obvious example, don’t have an outdoor wedding in the middle of winter. And if you are having an outdoor event, provide some sort of sheltered space in case of surprise rain or wind. If you’re indoors but the place has no heating (common with barns), give people advance warning so they can come prepared with adequate clothing. Let guests know if you’re having a beach ceremony so the women know not to wear stilettos. (You can include such notes for guests on your wedding website.)

A Reception Seating Chart

A seating chart on a rustic wood board at a wedding reception.

Believe it or not, seating charts are very important when it comes to the wedding reception. It isn’t necessary to issue everyone an exact seat, but at least specify which table they’ll be located at. This will help single guests and those who don’t know many people avoid awkward moments in which they don’t know where to go. Speaking of single guests—if you’re inviting someone who doesn’t know a lot of your other friends and family, allow them to take a plus-one along if they feel the need. One extra guest is worth having one less miserable guest and that loved one of yours will surely appreciate having the option.

To Be Kept in the Loop

You probably don’t want to be harassed with last-minute questions in the few days leading up to the wedding. Well, guests don’t really want to impose, either. Hence, it’s best to give everyone all the necessary details about the upcoming nuptials ahead of time. A wedding website can be a great tool for this. However you choose to do it, make sure to mention all the basics such as the dress code, rules on plus-ones or kids, transportation and parking, and anything else you think they’ll need to know to make the day as enjoyable as possible. This includes information for out-of-town guests such as accommodation recommendations and scheduling. The more your guests know now, the happier they’ll be later.

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