I just counted. In 2016, I attended nine weddings, and that’s just what I put on my actual calendar. The rest are a blur, partially because I went to so many and partially because I probably drank too much champagne, but that’s neither here nor there.
Through my extensive research of nuptials, I’ve had some realizations. I’ve realized that the reception venue needs to be within walking distance of the ceremony. I’ve realized that a reception is only as good as the room they have on the dance floor. And, most importantly, I’ve realized that drinking 18 flutes of champagne will give you insane indigestion. But again, that’s neither here nor there.
Brides came up with an itemized list of things wedding attendees secretly want but are too afraid to publicly tell the bride for fear that their name will be left off the guest list after they receive a Save The Date.
1. Demystify the Dress Code
Attire wording on invitations has become an art unto itself, points out wedding planner Amy Shey Jacobs, President of Chandelier Events. “Festive Chic. Dress to the Nines. Beach Elegance. Dress to impress. But gone are the days of the simple, straightforward Black Tie.”
This doesn’t need to be a Kinfolk party where the dress code is “pilgrim chic,” guys. You know the easiest and most straight-forward way to ensure your entire wedding looks airtight? Make it black tie.
Yeah, not everyone owns a tux. But when you’re already shelling out money to travel to a wedding, renting a tux is just a drop in the well. Furthermore, tuxedos make you feel invincible. There’s something about fastening that bow tie and strapping on a cumberbund that makes you feel like you can run through a goddamn country club hedge. You ask me to wear a suit? Then I have to think about which tie to pair with which suit and whether I need black or brown shoes. Don’t make me think, just let me drink.
No matter what the dress code is, my date is still going to stress out over what she wears up until five minutes before our Uber gets there. She’s still going to text her friends asking if she can “borrow” something because she wore that dress to a wedding last year and can’t double up on Instagrams. You can tell me I’m wrong, but I’m not.
2. Do Away with Assigned Seats
Most wedding guests really wish the bride and groom wouldn’t assign specific seats at the dinner table during the wedding reception, notes wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques.
Disclaimer: The choice to use assigned seating is completely dependent on the venue itself. Not every wedding can abide by this rule.
When I see assigned seats, I think to myself, “We’re in for a lot of sitting.” You’re probably going to have meals brought to you by dudes wearing white gloves. You’re probably going to have to sit through like five fucking speeches. And you’re probably going to awkwardly shuffle to the bar at some point hoping no one sees you / you don’t trip.
Open seating creates more of a party vibe, which again, I know doens’t fit the mold of every wedding. Just make sure that if it’s open seating that your date sets her clutch down on a prime table before someone else does.
3. Stop Playing Matchmaker
One thing your single guests really wish you wouldn’t do? Try to set them up with your cousin/frat brother/sorority sister (you get the point here) by seating them at the same table next to each other, says Laura Ritchie of Grit & Grace Inc.
As someone who has only sat at the much-feared “Singles Table” once, I can wholeheartedly say that sitting at a “Singles Table” is an incredible experience. Having a date at a wedding is like having a governor on your golf cart – you’re never going to reach the optimal speed you need to hit in order to crush. You need to get in a “work the room” mentality and hit the ground running from the second you sit down and awkwardly introduce yourself to everyone. You’re all there for one reason and one reason only: have a Nick Viall/Liz experience where you have to drunkenly make your way to your floor of the hotel at 6:45 in the morning when you realize where you are.
4. Invest in the Booze Instead of All the Other “Extras”
According to Ritchie, guests secretly wish you’d get rid of the favors and sparkler exit and splurge on having liquor, beer and wine at the reception. “No one leaves a wedding yearning for that last piece of gold wrapped chocolate when instead that money could have been used to upgrade the bar.”
1. The Bar
2. The Venue
3. A Wedding Band That Specializes In Playing “Land Of 1,000 Dances”
5. Don’t Interrupt the Party for the Cake Cutting
We know it’s important to you, however, to your guests? Not so much. They secretly don’t care about stopping the party to watch you do the cake cutting, reveals Ritchie. Make everyone happy and make this a private event during dinner with your parents (and perhaps bridal party) standing around.
And not just the cake cutting. Speeches? Hammer those out at the rehearsal dinner. First dance? Play half of that Van Morrison song and go on your merry way. Entrance? Don’t even make me look at your wedding party wearing throwaway plastic sunglasses while entering to “24K Magic” because it will only make me fucking hate them. The wedding is about the bride and groom only – not your best man who’s put on 20 pounds since college and is trying to cover up his double chin with a poorly manicured beard.
6. Serve Scrumptious Late Night Snacks
Think crowd pleasers! For example, in Southern California, the In-N-Out Burger Cookout Trailer is where it’s at, tells planner Brooke Keegan of Brooke Keegan Special Events. “You can never go wrong with a crowd favorite!” And your tipsy guests will totally thank you.
By doing this, you’re going to save me at least twenty minutes sitting in the back of an Uber while attempting to go through a Taco Bell drive-thru window – and that’s better than any gift I could’ve ever given you. Breakfast tacos, chicken tenders, whatever. Yes, I’ll curse you when I wake up with heartburn at 4 a.m. from the late night food, but at least it’ll soak up the booze I ravaged from your open bar and increase the chances of me showing up at your morning-after brunch.
7. Help Them Get There Easy
In terms of invites, guests super appreciate having all of the wedding details and any directions or maps included with the invitation, says invitation designer Danielle Behar. “This allows for your guests to arrive on time and in a good mood and what bride wants frustrated guests arriving on your dream day? Having a wedding website where guests can go to check any last minute updates is a simple but key touch.
*insert hand on chin emoji* Uh, earth to Brides, isn’t this what Uber drivers and Waze are for? This isn’t 1975 anymore. We’re not taking horse and buggy while navigating to the reception by The North Star. If I show up late, it’s not because I’m lost. It’s because I didn’t have time to slam my martini at the bar I went to before the wedding.
8. Make the Dinner Reception Feel More Like a Party
First, have the bar only closed for a short time. Normally, if you’re switching rooms from cocktail hour to dinner and dancing, the bar can close during this transition, but otherwise, should be open throughout the evening.
Second, have the band playing as your friends and family enter the room. “They can take their seats or make their way to the dance floor.” Limit the number of speeches throughout dinner and keep them short and sweet, he suggests. “As opposed to offering a plated meal, set up food stations throughout your reception area but still have a seat, assigned or not.” This enables interaction and mingling and creates that coveted party atmosphere.
Finally. someone. at. one. of. these. websites. gets. it.
Newsflash: a wedding is only as fun as it’s guests are having. The second you start jerking around guests trying to force them to listen to the bride’s cousin recount their childhood, you’ve lost the audience. No one walks away from a wedding wanting to saying, “That was so fun! I loved all the speeches!” They walk away wanting to ask, “Do you know a good tailor? I ripped my tux jacket while rolling around on the ground listening to ‘Shout’ while confetti got stuck in my mouth as I screamed the words.” .