When planning our wedding I gorged on wedding blogs and Pinterest pages. I found no shortage of advice about how to dress and decorate but rarely did anyone share what they wish they’d done differently when planning their wedding, or the common pitfalls and oft-cited regrets of the wedded. And so I decided to try and do just this. To compile a series of tips for those planning a wedding, a guide to the things worth considering now that will dictate your and your guests’ enjoyment of the day. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Keep the good times rolling
Every bride and groom has experienced the evaporation of time at their wedding. Before you know it the night’s coming to an end and you haven’t spoken to half your guests. While observing the tips below will help, the best way to combat the feeling that it’s all over too quickly is to make your wedding one of a series of events over a couple of days. Destination weddings are ideal for prolonging the celebrations as everyone is away together and keen to kick up their heels. But even if you’re at home, arrange a gathering or two with some or all of your guests in the days leading up to your wedding. That way you’ve already spent time with friends and/or family and don’t feel pressure to race around like a mad thing at the reception.
Control the photos
Often our obsession with capturing the moment is at the expense of our enjoyment of it. Have the family and bridal party photos and the location or artistic shots of the happy couple taken before the ceremony, so you’re not pulled away from the party for hours when you want to be mingling with your guests.
Tame the speeches
Firstly, get the timing right: schedule the speeches for the early evening so the rest of the night can be devoted to dancing and frolicking. Have the speeches run one after the other in a block rather than dispersed throughout the night. Restrict each speaker to five minutes and get your MC to enforce this if necessary. Secondly, keep the drink service going throughout the speeches so your guests remain merry.
Finally, select speakers based on their public-speaking ability and entertainment value, not just their relationship to you. If someone is reluctant or incredibly nervous don’t force them – it’ll show through in their delivery.
Don’t skimp on wedding entertainment
Playlists are fine when you’re cleaning the house, but if you want your guests packing the dance floor at your reception you need a band or an experienced DJ. Consider booking a magician, dancers or roving performers to make the evening truly memorable. Hiring a string quartet, pianist or acoustic musician to play a few songs before and after your ceremony lets you personalise and set the tone for the celebration. You can find the ideal entertainment for every budget on CrowdPleaser.
Hold your ceremony and reception at the one venue. This maximises the time with your guests, allows everyone to relax and settle in and helps the event flow more naturally than if everyone is uprooted and moved to another location.
Begin with booze
Invite guests to gather for a drink before the ceremony. If it’s a civil ceremony, encourage guests to bring their drinks along. Consider breaking with tradition and joining your guests beforehand – you can still have a grand entrance with your partner if a big reveal is important to you.
Freestyle the food
Opt for a cocktail-style reception over a sit down dinner so guests are free to mingle and more likely to dance. Alternatively if you’d like your guests to be seated for part of the evening then start with canapés and even entrees cocktail-style while guests are standing and then seat everyone for a shared platter-style dinner.
Choose the right MC
An effective MC sets the tone of your celebration and keeps the evening flowing well. Pick a friend or family member who’s well organised and a confident public speaker. Or hire a professional MC – you can browse some options on CrowdPleaser.
Provide the wheels
If the location is remote or difficult to access by public transport or Uber, arrange transport for your guests so they don’t have to drive. A bus or a couple of mini buses that pick up from designated locations mean that everyone can relax and enjoy the party.