Simple Ways to Make Your Guests Feel Included

If you are planning a wedding of over 100 guests, the thought of trying to make every person feel especially welcome may seem daunting.  While you can’t have a friendly conversation with everyone, here are a few ways you can create a more intimate vibe.

Place Settings

Name cards strategically placed on your reception tables is a small way to help your guests feel remembered. If they walk into a large space and are unsure of where to sit, it can be comforting to use them as a guide. People also feel honored to know that you considered them personally during your planning.  Even better, there are beautiful ways to incorporate them into your décor!  

Open the Dance Floor

Most weddings include traditional dances that everyone has grown to anticipate and adore. The first dance as a couple and the special father/daughter moment have been enjoyed for decades.  But there are also ways to invite your guests and make them feel included in the moment. Play a short song for couples married 50 years or more, then turn it over to those married between 25 and 49 years. Give every couple a chance to shine whether they are seasoned or newlyweds and don’t forget the singles of the group.

If you have the opportunity, also try to set aside a few songs to mingle with your guests. Even if it is a short dance, it will give you time to personally greet those around you.

Toasts

The maid of honor and best man may have a toast prepared for the reception. Also allowing the opportunity for a few quick shout outs from the crowd can create intimacy. It is essential that you only set aside a brief window for this to take place so the toasting does not monopolize the evening.

Some brides like to play a short game with their guests by letting them guess if the bride or the groom is “guilty” when asked a series of questions.  For example, ask, “Who will be guilty of stealing the covers in the middle of the night?” First allow those who believe the bride will be the culprit raise their hands, then follow up with those who believe it will be the groom.  It will be entertaining to see who wins the battle and your guests will feel engaged.

Greet Everyone

Your wedding is a big event and your time is limited. But, even if it is a quick hug, a personal thank you for attending your wedding goes a long way. If you are not a fan of greeting lines, spot those who you have not yet seen and make your way over to say hello. Your guests will understand it is not the time for a long conversation. Most people just want to wish you the best and show gratitude for the invitation. Just try your best to say hello to everyone.

How to Handle Uninvited Guests

You have spent months planning your wedding and weeks organizing your seating chart, but unexpectedly, you are face to face with a WEDDING CRASHER.  This is not the moment to cause a scene or stir conflict.  What do you do?

You may wonder, who would show up without and invitation?  Surprise, it happens.  Here are some examples of extra bodies you didn’t anticipate.

The Plus One:

When a guest brings a date, but wasn’t given the option.

On average 85% of your guest list will attend, and you planned for this.  You carefully worded your invitations and made it obvious to your single friends not to bring along their new fling.  Still, you find yourself rearranging for an uninvited date.  This could happen one of two ways:

  1. Your buddy added a “Plus One” to the RSVP, but you simply cannot accommodate. Just be honest. Have a face to face conversation or make a personal phone call and explain why you need to limit your guest list.  Let them know there are space, food, or budget restrictions…whatever your reason may be.
  2. “Surprise! I brought a friend, isn’t he cute?!” In this situation, it is better to allow the ‘cute friend’ to stay rather than cause a scene or turn him away.  Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to plan ahead and have a reserve chair just in case.  If it is impossible to let the couple sit side by side, it’s okay – they will manage.
Kids:

Yes, they are adorable. But, this was an adult only party!

Your invitations shouldn’t exactly read, “No kids” but in the most delicate way make it apparent who IS invited. For example, “Two seats have been reserved for Mr. and Mrs. Smith at the Wedding Ceremony and Reception for…” Or, a brief note at the bottom of the invitation that reads, “Adult reception to follow the ceremony.”

If you have a few little guys actually on your list, separate an activity filled area just for them and place the unexpected kids at their table too.  Also, let your wedding coordinator handle this task, it is probably not the first time they have seen it happen!

Complete Strangers:

Um, we haven’t met. Are you a friend of the bride or the groom?

Is there a stranger lurking around your bar or trying to sneak a taste of your wedding cake? This scenario is more common when you have a wedding at a hotel or an open public venue.  Here are the best ways to prevent these crashers:

  • Use plenty of signage so there is no confusion when people are entering a private reception area.
  • Have people on guard to help keep your wedding private. Let your wedding planner or the venue manager handle this matter professionally and discreetly.

Most importantly, if you do have a surprise visitor, let someone else oversee this burden.  The bride should always appear graceful and welcoming, not confrontational.  This day should only be happy for you!

 

Keepings Guests Comfortable: Outdoor Weddings

It’s no secret that summer is considered “wedding season” for a reason! Many brides want their day to be warm and sunny. Others prefer the cooler seasons, but still want an open-air ambiance.

 

No matter what season you choose, here are some tips for keeping your guests comfortable at an outdoor wedding—

 

If Warm:

  • Parasols are a stylish, useful accessory for summer outdoor weddings. They look great in pictures, and any guests who tend to sunburn will surely thank you, especially if both your wedding and reception take place outside!
  • In summer months, all your guests will appreciate personal fans! For a unique and useful twist, fans can double as your wedding program.
  • Guests may appreciate cool towelettes and blotting papers places in restrooms, making it easy for them to freshen up.

 

If Cold:

  • Keep some warm duds on hand! Even when they know a wedding will take place outside, some guests will still arrive in sleeveless dresses and thin fabrics. Providing a selection of stylish shawls and wraps is a great way to keep your loved ones cozy during the ceremony.
  • If your reception is outside as well, consider renting a heated tent. Depending on the day, you may not even need the heat, but it’s better to be over-prepared than to have shivering guests!
  • Instead of fans, leave one-use hand-warmers on each seat for the ceremony. Guests can easily decide whether or not they’d like to use them.

 

Other fun ideas:

  • You hope for a sunny day, so offer your guests sunglasses. You’ll be surprised how many will forget their own shades. Simple sunglasses at a cute table are not only a thoughtful party favor, but a useful one as your guests watch the “I Do”s!
  • If dancing is an important part of your reception, consider providing flip-flops or slip-on dancing shoes for your high-heeled guests.

 

Some simple extras for your guests can make your big day memorable for everyone!