Guests Peeves and How to Avoid Them
A wedding's supposed to be happy, so make sure you don't end up with some ticked-off invitees.
How can you please a roomful of people at your wedding? It's pretty tough-especially if that room contains personalities as disparate as cousin Benny, the drummer in a speed-metal band, and brother-in-law Bob, a partner in the law firm of Dull & Conservative. Still, you can try. We've made it easier for you by pinpointing some universal guest pet peeves. Read them, and vow to avoid them.
Guest Peeve: My invitation was made out to "Ms. Jane Doe and Guest," even though they've known my boyfriend for almost a year. .The Reprieve: Earn a few brownie points-call your single guests and find out who they're bringing, then include their dates' full names on the invitations.
Guest Peeve: The invitation didn't say it was an outdoor wedding. I ruined my favorite shoes when the heels sank into the mud. .The Reprieve: If the invitation doesn't make it clear that your wedding is outdoors (if your site is a beach or a park, guests can pretty much guess), add an enclosure that lets them know what to expect. Say something like, "Ladies should wear flat shoes in case of uneven ground at the ceremony."
Guest Peeve: It was a gorgeous, sunny day for their outdoor weddingbut there was no shelter from the heat. .The Reprieve: Warm sunlight can be so pleasant during the first 15 to 30 minutes outdoors, but can quickly turn into a decidely unpleasant, it's-hotter-than-Hades feeling. Take pity on your attendees and put up a tent-and even, if possible, a few air-conditioning units. If this isn't feasible, arrange to have paper fans or colorful parasols, plenty of cold bottled water available, and schedule your vows for a time when the sun isn't as strong.
Guest Peeve: "You may kiss the bride," turned into a five-minute makeout session. .The Reprieve: Keep the smooch short-and tongue action to a minimum. Remember, the honeymoon is only a short five or six hours away.
Guest Peeve: There were three hours of lag time between the ceremony and reception. We were from out of town, so we ended up watching TV in our hotel room. .The Reprieve: If possible try to minimize the time between the wedding and the reception, giving guests a comfortable amount of time to move from one locale to the next. If that's not possible, find some sort of diversion for out-of-towners during the down time. Ask a friend or family member to host a little get-together at their place-very light munchies and nonalcoholic drinks are all that's needed. Or, host a hospitality suite at the hotel where your guests are staying.
Guest Peeve: The reception was at this out-of-the-way spot, and no directions were provided in the invitation or the program. We got there just as the salad course was being cleared away. .The Reprieve: Tuck a map into your invite with detailed directions to an off-the-beaten-path site. To be extra considerate, give forgetful guests a second chance by including a copy of the directions in your ceremony programs. Think how many marriages you'll save. ("I thought you brought the directions." "No, you said you had them.")
Guest Peeve: The bride and groom were off getting pictures taken for half of the reception. .The Reprieve: Get as many formal shots done before the wedding as you possibly can. Some couples get them all out of the way, so they can start celebrating right after the ceremony. But if you don't want the groom to see you till after you say I do, keep picture-taking to a minimum-you don't need shots at three different locales, in 17 different poses. Let your photographer know in advance how much time you want to allot to pictures-he'll hold you to it.
Guest Peeve: I stood forever in the receiving line. Just when I was getting up to the couple, the caterer announced dinner. I never even got to say hello to the newlyweds. .The Reprieve: Keep the receiving line short (just you, your groom and your mothers) and your comments shorter-tell your pals you'll chat more later. Or, skip the line altogether and make an effort to circulate for a little meet-and-greet with everyone at the reception instead.
Guest Peeve: The wedding had a cash bar. My husband and I hadn't expected to pay for anything, so we were able to get only a few Cokes. .The Reprieve It looks just as tacky to ask guests to pay for their drinks at a wedding reception as it would if you charged two dollars every time your friends grabbed a brewsky at your Superbowl party. If you don't have the dough for a five-hour open bar there are plenty of less costly alternatives. Offer guests beer, wine and an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks. Or, host a full bar for cocktails, then switch to beer and wine later on. Or, decide on one special cocktail or Champagne punch to serve.
Guest Peeve: Either there were a lot of party crashers or the couple hadn't planned well. There were huge lines at the food stations and bars, and a ten-minute wait for the bathrooms. .The Reprieve: To avoid the lines for food and drinks, have waiters work the room with trays of drinks and hors d'oeuvres, which will help keep some people out of the line. And try to have at least one bathroom for every 25 guests, so no one has to wait.
Guest Peeve: I traveled 500 miles to my cousin's weddingthen ended up sitting at a table way in the back, with people I didn't know (not even my parents). I couldn't even see the couple. .The Reprieve: Here's a quickie course in the politics of seating charts: Put your family and closest friends nearest to you, and your parents' business associates farther out. And try to seat each guest with at least one familiar person.
Guest Peeve: They know I'm a vegetarian, but didn't arrange for a meatless meal. I ended up with a salad and some carrots for dinner. .The Reprieve: More and more people are cutting back on their meat intake these days, so offering some vegetarian hors d'oeuvres and a meat-free entree option isn't a bad idea. Find out if any of your guests have other dietary restrictions (low salt, kosher, etc.), and ask your caterer if he can whip up a few extra meals espeially for them.
Guest Peeve: Eight people stood up and gave long toasts to the bride and groom, which were peppered with tasteless jibes about ex-girlfriends, bad behavior and inside jokes that few of the guests understood. .The Reprieve: Remind your toasters to keep it brief (under two minutes is ideal), and to save inside jokes or off-color remarks for the bachelor party or a more private moment.
Guest Peeve: The music was turned way up to 11. You couldn't hear anything else in the whole hall..The Reprieve: Ask the band or DJ to keep the volume at a reasonable level. Seat elderly guests and people who don't dance away from the speakers, so they can chat the night away instead.
Guest Peeve: The dance floor was too packedno one could move, let alone swing..The Reprieve: Be sure your dance floor can handle the crowd you're inviting. Someone actually figured out that you'll need a minimum of 2.5 square feet of dance-floor space for each guest-though if you've got a crowd that really likes to boogie, opt for 3 square feet per person.
Guest Peeve: The couple had a dollar dance, where the guests paid for a chance to dance with the bride. It just seemed like a ploy for more money..The Reprieve: Unless every bride in your family for the past century did it, don't even think about it.
Guest Peeve: I never got a thank-you note. .The Reprieve: Okay, so maybe you've already written 157 thank-you notes. That doesn't make the remaining 43 unthanked guests feel any better. Finish what you start-no later than three months after your wedding. Make the process as painless as possible by doing a handful a night, and be sure to get your hubby to do his fair share, too!