How do I make sure guests have fun at my wedding?

entertaining wedding guests

For pretty much all our couples, their wedding day celebration is by far the biggest party they’ve ever thrown, and the most intricate project they’ve ever tackled. Aside from the planning and logistics themselves, what is necessary to make the wedding celebration fun for everyone? What is it that sets an average party apart from an unforgettable one which everyone keeps raving about?

I’m not talking about over-the-top-glamour, Hollywood-worthy entertainment or other perks only big money can buy. I am talking about the little things, the personal touches that make everyone feel good and special and well taken care of. To me, that’s an integral part of the overall wedding experience, just as much as good food and music.

Keep your wedding fun and exciting by creating ways for your guests to interact with you and your venue. Interactive weddings leave lasting impressions on your guests and keep people talking about your event for years to come. Adding interactive features doesn’t need to be costly. Most of the following can be incorporated into the everyday tasks of a DIY bride. Let’s get started!

While planning a wedding, many couples say their top priority is their guests’ enjoyment. And with good reason – your loved ones are taking time out of their busy schedules to celebrate you! But that doesn’t mean that your enjoyment has to take a back seat. Here are secrets to making your wedding truly the best day of your life.

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Making Your Wedding Fun For All

bride throwing bouquet

You, the couple, totally worry-free

Let’s begin with the stars of the day: you, the Bride and Groom! Here at A Day Like No Other, our mantra is: Our couples have only ONE job on their wedding day, and that is, to celebrate! All our couples tell me afterwards that their wedding day flew by and that they can hardly remember all of it. We strive to maximize what our brides and grooms remember. We want you to be in the moment and to focus on what this day is about: committing your lives to one another. And that’s why we make sure that everything you might need and want on your wedding day has been meticulously planned ahead of time.

Plus, during Cocktail Hour, when most couples are busy taking photos, we make sure a platter of appetizers is set aside for them in a quiet side room with a chilled bottle of champagne. Once the photo session is over, we whisk them away for a few minutes of well-deserved break before presenting them to their guests.

The couple is off-limits for anything but celebrating!

What else? We, the planners, make sure that nobody will bother our couples with anything during their wedding day. Another mantra, or rather our promise to our couples: If there is a glitch, you will not know! It’s true: we do what is humanly possible to keep our couples out of it. And if you don’t have a wedding coordinator, you should designate one point person for all logistical issues and whatever else might come up. We at A Day Like No Other are even wearing funny buttons identifying us as the wedding planners¦ and invariably, that does not only crack up everyone, they will also find us and ask us for assistance. No one interrupts the couples’ partying!

Your parents

For most parents, their children’s wedding day is at least as important as for the bride and groom themselves. It’s an occasion they have been looking forward to since bride and groom were children, hoping for them to find a soul mate and lifelong companion who will take care of them once the parents are gone. Giving a child away in marriage is a milestone in parenting. It’s also a day to look back on all the sweet memories of that now grown-up man or woman when they were little, when they had just entered the world, and also to think back to one’s wedding day, one’s parents. It’s a day of memories. And that’s why we encourage all our couples to include such memories in their celebration, e.g., as a gallery of family photos.

Your older guests

Most of our couples invite quite a few older guests, grandparents and other relatives of that generation. Often, these feel a little lost in a crowd of young people. We make it a point to include them and make them feel an integral part of the couple’s family history. One discreet way of making older guests feel good is to include music choices they are comfortable and familiar with, be it a few Frank Sinatra or Elvis songs or 80s top hits. Yes! It is possible to mix those in, and you should see those smiles on their faces! And instead of a bouquet toss, we often do a generation dance with the bride presenting her bouquet to the guest couple with the longest-lasting marriage.

More Fun at Your Wedding

Two words: Free. Bar.

This one’s obvious, but nothing gets the party going like a welcome Champagne, a before-dinner beer or a signature cocktail or three. Your generosity will have limits (of the bar tab variety) but ensure all your day guests never have a dry glass and the dance floor should be full all night. If you’re able to provide your drinks, stock up on affordable wine so that your guests can have a glass with every course, and think about making up signature wedding cocktails that can be served from glass dispensers after dinner and before the dancing starts.

Playlist is key

It doesn’t matter how drunk you get your guests if the music is terrible; the dance floor will be a sad and lonely place. If you’re hiring a band, make sure they have an arsenal of decent covers in their back catalogue, because while their original material is probably marvellous, your wedding is not the place for a showcase. If you can, put together the playlist yourself and ask your guests for contributions, that way, as many of them as possible will get up for a dance.

Photo Ops

Guests love a photo opportunity, so think about getting a photo booth installed (if budget allows), and that way friends can take a snap away, and you can print them all off for your album. And go heavy on the props. People love the fancy dress (well, some people) so provide plenty of hats, which will inevitably end up on the dance floor and add extra colour to your evening photos. When you’re setting up your wedding space, think about where people might like to take photos. Vowed & Amazed giant rent light up signs which make for popular photo spots, while chalkboard signs are cheap to make and look great in wedding snaps.

Lawn games

If you’re having a lunchtime ceremony, the chances are you’ll have some down-time between the vows, the dinner and the dancing. Make sure that your guests don’t have to hang around unentertained by providing some games. Think giant Jenga, coconut shy, croquet or quoits to keep kids and adults alike entertained.

What’s the hashtag?

Let your guests play wedding photographer by having an Instagram hashtag for your big day. Friends and family will love it when you post their photo the next day, and it’s a great way for everyone to share their highlights during the day and in the week that follows.

Flip-flops

Nothing will make you more popular than providing flip-flops for the high heel wearers. Combine your free-flowing booze, your mega-awesome playlist and the flat shoes, and you’ll have a dance floor filled with super-happy guests.

Snacking stations

Nobody likes a hangry wedding guest. Whether you’re having a formal sit-down meal or a buffet, have a few snacking stations around the wedding venue that people can fill up on whenever they want. Pick ‘n’ mix, crisps and nuts might not sound like the most glamorous snacks, but they’ll be the most popular calling points; and you can make them look pretty in glass jars with silver scoops.

Seating plan

Your creative seating plan that splits couples up mixes all the singles together and helps people get to know each other is great. But ultimately people want to sit with their pals. Sorry.

Photo time

Everyone gets it; you need an hour or so after the ‘I dos’ to take some gorgeous wedding snaps. But make sure people are left hanging around with nothing to do (and nothing to drink) in this time. Consider some entertainment or games, supply plenty of drinks, and make sure there is seating available.

Evening food

A decent end-of-night-type snack will go down so well with your friends and family. Consider a food truck style evening meal if budget allows, like a hog roast or pie van. Trays of bacon sandwiches and cheese on toast will go down better than canapés at this stage of proceedings.

Sneak Away for Private Moments

At your reception, it’s far too easy to get pulled in the opposite direction from your new spouse as you individually catch up with friends and family members you haven’t seen in years. Make sure you don’t end the night feeling like you didn’t even see your partner by scheduling in some private time. “One great way to do this is to take the first 10 minutes after their ceremony to spend together, with no one else around… During this time, the rest of the guests are exiting the venue and not noticing that the couple is missing,” says Rebecca Jones, owner and wedding planner at Pine Creek Escapes in Oregon, Illinois. “We also urge them to plan another 10 minutes away right after their first dance. Once again, the guests hit the dance floor and don’t notice the absent couple, and they can sneak in some private time and spend it as they wish.”

You can also create a secret code for when one of you is feeling overwhelmed and needs a break. “Creating a silly code word when you’re feeling the need to slow things down a bit can help anyone focus on enjoying the moment,” says Norian. “If your spouse tells you the code word, then you know it’s time to take a step back with them for a brief period and just soak it all in.” 

Get Comfortable

If you never wear heels in your daily life, why torture yourself with stilettos just because it’s your wedding day? Especially during your reception, don’t be afraid to kick off your shoes and slip into something more comfortable – like slippers! With a long gown, no one is going to see your shoes anyway, so you might as well wear something that’ll help you let loose. 

Stay Among the Crowd

You’ll spend most of your wedding day mixing and mingling with guests, but once the meal is served, most couples retire to their sweetheart table. While a sweetheart table can, in theory, be a great way to spend time alone with your partner, are you alone? The sweetheart table tends to be front and centre in the room, meaning every single guest can sit and watch your interactions if they so desire. While some couples love being in the spotlight, it’s okay if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Instead, take a seat right in the middle of the room, where you can feel the love of your guests surrounding you.

Take it Easy on the booze.

Many couples fall into the trap of thinking more drinks = more fun. But when the liquor is free-flowing, it’s far too easy to cross over to the bad side. “Too many drinks will eventually make you feel tired and worst of all, may make you forget those memorable times!’ says Aleka Shunk, creator of Bite-Sized Kitchen. Pro tip: Drink a glass of water between every alcoholic drink to help pace yourself. 

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Personalize Your Moments

When we say “personalize,” most people automatically think about the décor. But you can also put your mark on your wedding through your actions. Your first dance is a standout moment and is an opportunity to reflect who you are as a couple. “Gone are the days when you have to slow dance to a classic love song. Choose a song from your favourite band, or find an upbeat, happy song that expresses who you are as a couple, and don’t be afraid to dance like nobody is watching!” says Norian. “Your guests will likely enjoy seeing a modern rendition of an old tradition, and might even ask you for the name of the catchy song.”

Add Some Levity

Your wedding day will be full of big moments, from the first time you see each other to your first kiss as a married couple to your final sendoff. One of our favourite tradition modifications we’ve seen lately is with the first look. As much as we all love seeing sweet, sentimental photos of couples loving on each other, the buildup for that moment can feel like too much pressure to make it perfect. Alleviate the tension and turn it into a comical moment instead.

Define “Fun” in Your Way

Some couples love to dance; others wouldn’t be caught dead busting a move on the dance floor. If dancing isn’t your idea of a good time, then why design your entire wedding reception around that form of entertainment? Sure, play party music for your guests who want to boogie, but we can guarantee that you’re not alone in not wanting to dance. Set up games and other activities for the non-dancers to enjoy. 

Helping All Guests

For many guests, attending a wedding means taking days off work, planning and paying for travel. Despite the joy of seeing a friend or family member getting married, it’s also a lot of effort. Guests appreciate being well taken care of, and they tend to remember that experience even more than the food! So, let’s make them feel special and well-taken care of. Here is what we recommend:

Keep Them Informed

Keep guests well informed, and the easiest way is a detailed wedding website. We recommend our couples to offer logistical help to their guests whenever possible, be it for accommodations, local climate and choice of attire. Plus, this is also a good spot to drop a hint regarding dress code¦ politely. Nobody wants to be seriously under- or overdressed for the occasion! The more the guests know beforehand, the easier it is for them to plan accordingly.

Help Them With The Logistics

The same holds for the schedule of the wedding day itself. We recommend to include on the wedding website one page devoted to nothing but the logistics: Directions, parking restrictions, shuttle bus service, specifics about the property (e.g. walks over uneven terrain), cell phone reception, and when guests are expected to be where.

Make Them Feel Welcome

Nothing makes guests feel welcome more than Welcome Bags! Yes, we know, it’s a lot of work to assemble them (we do that for our clients¦) Include personalized bottled water), snacks, local specialties like small bottles of wine or olive oil, local chocolates; a walking map and/or brochures for local sightseeing trips. And then, of course, a personal letter from the couple expressing their joy to have all these guests from faraway locations together for their wedding day.

Keep Them Comfy

And that’s why the pampering of guests doesn’t stop just there! For the wedding day, we recommend a welcome bar with chilled (nonalcoholic!) beverages; for outdoor weddings a sunscreen/bug repellant station; market umbrellas shading the ceremony area, fans (maybe imprinted with the ceremony program), personalized paper parasols doubling as a wedding keepsake; amenities baskets in the bathrooms, simple pashmina shawls or blankets for outdoor celebrations and a basket of flip-flops for beach weddings and long dance parties.

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Your Youngest Guests

Let’s admit it: weddings are not for kids. Take that from a mother! The excitement about the decorations and the big white dress is wearing off after a maximum of ten minutes, and then kids want to do what kids always want to do: explore, play, do their own thing. Make sure that they get to do exactly that and have just as much fun during that wedding as their parents – just a different type of fun: their area, their babysitter(s) and their activities. Activity bags, maybe even a kids’ entertainment company or a sleepover party with cartoon movies and pizza. Everybody’s happy!

Your friends and family love you just the way you are, so don’t feel pressured to fit into the “bride” box. Plan the wedding you know you’ll enjoy. Are you sweets, aficionado? Splurge on the elaborate dessert display — we’re pretty confident your guests won’t complain about having more options. Are you a crafting queen? Go ahead and DIY as much as your heart desires. And, conversely, if you don’t have a crafty bone in your body, don’t stress yourself out by taking on projects — it’s okay to outsource everything. Focus your attention on the elements of your big day that you know will bring a smile to your face, and don’t sweat the small stuff. 

You and your spouse should be yourselves during your wedding day. If you love certain foods, eat them. If you enjoy dancing up a storm, do it. It is your wedding day and your marriage — not a job interview. It’s okay to relax, be yourself, and have fun.”

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