As a wedding professional, it’s easy to fall into a rote questionnaire-esque checklist with clients.

“Name? Wedding date? How many tables? What color linens?”

And check, check, check mark everything off the list till you get to the end.

What Wedding Guests Want

Yes, it’s important to build relationships with your clients, but don’t let your clients forget that there are also real, live people coming to the wedding, too, and guests need to be treated like royalty.

Make sure your clients don’t overlook the importance of hospitality at their own wedding. Some guests have given up a lot—time, money, energy, have traveled a long way—to be there.

It’s about the couple, sure, but why not get the best bang possible, for them—and you?

Here’s a simple—and sometimes overlooked—list of what wedding guests really want:

1. An open bar

For goodness sakes, wedding professionals, encourage your clients to spend less on covered chairs and more on an open bar. Overall, it’s the number one thing guests really want, though I think you could argue that #1 and #2 could be a tie.

2. Good food

It’s been 10 years since the wedding I’ve been to that served chicken, frozen solid like a Popsicle, right in the middle. Have I forgotten it? Nope.

Have I remembered anything else about that particular wedding? Nope.

If you’ve been to a wedding where the food was bad, or if you’ve been to a wedding where the food was exceptionally good, chances are, you’ll remember each vividly—just don’t let any of your clients be targets of the #badfoodbadwedding hashtag.

3. Offer a late night buffet

Believe me, if your clients hire someone to wheel in two dozen pizzas at 10 p.m., the bride and groom will be heroes—and so will you. Mark my words.

4. No speeches, or at least, if there will be speeches, they’d better be darned good ones

Are they or are they not typically just a spouting-off opportunity for a bunch of major narcissists? Or am I just narrow-minded? No? Okay.

Obviously, that can be tough to control as a wedding professional, but encouraging thoughtful repartee from the matron of honor and best man is a good idea.

5. Great entertainment

Think creatively about how your clients’ weddings could be entertaining.

Think about the weddings you’ve been to where you think things could be a little spiced up, by, say, a pajama party at the reception. (Too extreme?)

Okay, but just think creatively about how you could make interesting twists on people’s experience and cause them to say, “This one wedding I was at, we got to _____________. It was awesome!”

6. Short ceremony

Dear Lord, please don’t let this Catholic ceremony last for an hour and a half. I cannot keep my kids quiet that long. Thank you. Amen.

Sound familiar?

Please remind your clients to be respectful of the fact that not all wedding guests will be, say, Catholic, as in this example. Just be courteous.

7. Comfort

Good hospitality, as in pick-ups (and drop-offs) from the airport or train station, ample seating (let there be enough chairs!)

No outdoor weddings in sticky hot weather, or in blustery weather, either. (Keep the March weddings in the Midwest to a minimum, please, and July weddings in Florida to a minimum of never, please.)

Don’t freeze guests out with air conditioning, and how about a few extra people standing around to answer questions—and especially to direct to bathrooms, if they’re not clearly marked.

8. No waiting around for the wedding party. Or, if that’s unavoidable, have food and drinks at the ready for guests

Whether your client’s entire wedding party must take photos after the wedding, or the wedding party stopped at a bar on its way to the reception, just make sure there’s something for the rest of the crowd to do.    

9. A dessert bar, or a candy bar— huge hit

The last wedding I went to, at my four-year-old daughter’s suggestion, I (shamefully) filled my purse with all of the candy I could carry away at the candy bar. We were still sneakily and happily snacking on Peachie O’s days later.

Why is that such a big deal? Why?

10. Laughter. Jokes. A mood of happiness

How many weddings miss the mark on that one?

Encourage more of a bridechilla-like atmosphere so the bride isn’t yelling, “MY WEDDING, MY WAY!” in the middle of taking photos.

And also, people want to talk to the bride and groom, even if for just a few minutes. Encourage your clients to remember why they’re doing the entire wedding in the first place.

Tell us below about the most amazing guest-oriented things you’ve seen at weddings!
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Posted By

Melissa Brock

Melissa is a Midwesterner with a penchant for travel (the further away, the better!) and personal finance. Previously, she worked as a writer/editor for a gardening magazine and has done lots of writing and editing for publications. Now, she works in the admission office of her alma mater, Central College in Iowa. She has special interests in reading about finance and politics, and together with her husband, spends most of her time chasing after their two small kiddos.

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2 thoughts on “What Wedding Guests Really Want”

  1. Gary Kelley says:

    I’ve seen it too many times. The guests arrive early as they are asked only to wait and wait and wait. Nothing to drink, nothing to eat, no shade. The first check mark in their guests perception is: I can’t wait until this gets fun. I’m thristy and I’m hot. I wonder how long I’m going to have to sit here and suffer? All of this can be fixed with non traditional planning. Put as much importance on the arrival as the main portion of the reception. Will the guests remember the location? Will they remember the wedding chicken? Or will they remember how much fun they had from the moment they arrived at your wedding? Treat your guests as you like to be treated when going out for a nice dinner. You want excellent service as soon as you walk into the restaurant. Do the same for your guests and you will hear, “It was the best wedding I’ve ever been too. It was so much fun”.

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