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10 Things Your Guests Actually Care About

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

Although your wedding should be 100% you, when we talk about the things your guests "care about", we're talking about the main things your guests notice and pay attention to when attending your celebration! We hope that this topic will help you choose the things you incorporate into your special day and forgo the things that your guests aren't even really paying attention to, so if it's not important to you, DON'T DO IT!


  1. Your events happening on time!

  2. FOOD!

  3. Booze, of course.

  4. Transportation and Parking

  5. How your wedding is decorated!

  6. Temperature

  7. Seating!

  8. Your Ceremony

  9. Volume and Length

  10. YOU!!




1. The Schedule Being on Time (1:15)

Obviously your guests don't know your exact timeline, so you don't have to worry about the timeline being EXACT (our timelines are VERY detailed down to the minute, but we make sure our couples know that these timelines are fluid on the day, so don't get caught up in the minute-by-minute things). What we're really talking about here are things like your ceremony starting on time (PRO-TIP: Start your ceremony 5-minutes late, there are ALWAYS stragglers that will walk in and have to stand in the back until everyone is down the aisle. Waiting an extra 5-minutes will hopefully get all your guests in and seated before the processional begins), reception beginning when it's supposed to, dinner happening shortly after (guests get HANGRY!), etcetera, etcetera.


Just keep in mind that "this generation" is very impatient when it comes to waiting around for the next thing to happen. The boredom sets in quickly, so everything flowing into the next thing seamlessly and seemingly 'on-time' makes all the difference in the perception of the flow and overall experience of your day.


PRO-TIP 2: Have a detailed shot list for your photographer (with NAMES, not just "mom, dad, etc.") for photos during cocktail hour. This helps us grab and go with photos and make the process more efficient!


2. The Food (6:00)

It's the "what, when, where, how" of your meal that you want to think about, so basically every facet of the food! Working with a reputable caterer can help you sift through dietary restrictions, allergy needs, and they can really help you appeal to a variety of different tastes. Now we're not saying you have to adhere to every single guests dietary restrictions (keto, for example), but having a plan in place for allergies is definitely something you want to do. Your guests will appreciate knowing exactly what they are being served, and if they have any questions or concerns about what they might be eating your caterer can efficiently answer those questions and address any issues.


At the end of the day, people are going to criticize their "free" meal no matter what. No one person or family is alike, so you have to choose what is important to you and your significant other and then hire a caterer that can execute accordingly!


*Weddingwire.com said 77% of wedding guests said food is one of the most important things they pay attention to.*


Don't forget that venue, food and alcohol are usually your top three expenses so if you are on a limited budget there are definitely ways you can cut your food costs and still have an impressive meal! Talk to your caterer about style options, plate ware options and service options.


3. The Booze (9:22)

We talked about this in our last episode, "13 Things Your Guests Don't Really Care About", but here we are mostly talking about is your bar an open bar or a cash bar? Now we aren't saying you have to foot the bill for everyone's alcohol consumption on your wedding night or offer top-shelf liquor, especially if you're on a limited budget. What we are saying is that you should be sure to inform your guests ahead of time if they are going to have to pay for their drinks. A lot of times, people have the expectation that they are going to walk in and have free drinks all night and that isn't always the case. Letting them know that alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase at the bar is a nice gesture so that their expectations are already set for what the night will entail in terms of bar and alcohol.

Signature drinks are a great way to incorporate some "drinks on us" without breaking the bank. Hiring a professional bartender/caterer can really help in this way because they will be able to help you determine your quantities and get you really good number estimates. Getting a good guest count and knowing how many of those guests are drinking age and how many are children is imperative because a lot of times caterers that are providing your bar operate on a "price per guest per hour" system. This is great because you basically know your overall cost going into the night, and you can also have options like a hosted bar for the first hour or two and then going to a cash bar later on in the night if guests want to continue to drink. Again, just make sure whatever you do you have a way to inform your guests in advance so they aren't shocked when they have to start paying for their drinks!

4. Transportation and Parking (12:50)

A lot of times this is an overlooked element of the wedding in terms of your guests, especially if you're having an out-of-town wedding or you are getting married where you are locally. Guests that are coming from other areas of the state or country are going to need a way to get to your wedding events, or know where they can park and if they have to pay if they drive their own vehicle. If transportation is something you are going to provide, you definitely want to inform your guests ahead of time so that they can utilize the service you have booked! You'll also want to consider how many guests you have and how many guests your shuttle will hold. This will determine a) how many trips you will need the shuttle to make and/or b) how many shuttles you will need to contract. You'll have to consider how early guests will arrive to your ceremony if you only have one shuttle that is making multiple trips and what will entertain them while they wait.


Another consideration is how large your shuttle is and making sure that it can reach the venue. Sometimes, driveways are too narrow or there isn't enough turn-around space, so making sure there is a plan for the shuttle ahead of time is imperative. Also, considering what is taking place in your location at the time of your wedding is important. For example, graduation in Bloomington means a ton of traffic, limited parking, and more time for travel from point a to point b. Knowing if there are any significant events taking place is essential to plan around and also to inform your guests that these events are happening in town so that they can plan accordingly if they are providing their own transportation.


You can also consider providing a Lyft code for your guests if you aren't providing transportation so that they can get a ride if needed! You can also use this at the end of wedding night if guests have been drinking and you don't have transportation available for them to use. We always want to keep our guests safe!


PRO-TIP 3: Provide a transportation schedule to your guests when they check in to their hotel. This can be a small cardstock paper listing the transportation details, and you can give them to the front desk at the hotels to give your guests upon their check-in. Guests will appreciate this information and it will help them feel informed!


5. The Décor! (19:54)

Planners can help you create a cohesive look for your wedding that is in-line with your vision and desires!


According to a study, 42% of people pay attention to décor at weddings and events.

This doesn't mean go Pinterest-crazy!! A lot of your décor is really what works for you as a couple and so many weddings "these days" incorporate those special elements that are important to you and your fiancé and what makes you a couple! Your guests want to see those elements come through in your wedding and they are really paying attention to the atmosphere that you've created to celebrate your marriage!


Figure out what is important to you as a couple, what look you are trying to achieve at your wedding, what elements you REALLY want to incorporate and then take a few of these ideas and really build them out from there to achieve a cohesive look.


PRO-TIP 4: Consider your centerpiece arrangements and really think about the height and size of them. We hear so many guests talk about how they can't talk to the others sitting at their table because they can't see them past the centerpiece! It's not a huge deal but it's something that people will notice and remember.


6. Temperature (25:17)

SOMEONE is going to complain about the temperature, so remember that first.

But we've got a few ways for you to consider this and how to lessen the complaints.

First, be mindful of the season of your wedding, what your area is like during that time, and what your venue is like during that time. For example, you're getting married in a barn venue that doesn't have heat in the winter time. There are heaters available but that doesn't always warm the entire space, so your guests will have to stay close to the heaters to stay warm. Opposite of that, you might be getting married in a barn venue that doesn't have air conditioning in the summer. Of course, there are likely fans (and there are now these awesome misting fans that really get it cooled well) but there will ALWAYS be someone that is hot, hot, hot! Giving guests a heads-up in these situations goes a long way. Of course we think it's obvious if it's summer out and it's going to be hot, but letting them know to wear light clothing that will keep them cool will be much appreciated by your guests!


Don't forget that if your reception is indoors with air conditioning in the summer-time, it will likely be FREEZING in your venue at first, but that is so the air can keep up once your guests get in the reception space. It's almost impossible to keep a venue cool once a hundred people get in there with all of their body heat, so if it's cold at first, that's why!


7. Seating (29:01)

But wait, in the last episode we told you guests don't really care about open seating, so how can they also care about seating? Well this time, we're saying that your guests care about assigned seating, as odd as that sounds. It's definitely important to put some thought into your seating chart and there are multiple factors to consider!


We have a questionnaire that goes out to all of our clients that asks questions such as family issues, and even medical issues that guests might have that limits their ability to be next to a speaker or close to flashing lights, for example. So, as hard as it is to determine who should sit with who and where they should go, it's important so that your guests are safe and also so that families and guests that are attending together get to sit together. If you just have open seating (which a lot of people think sounds great because guests can choose where they would like to sit), there could be a lot of instances where there aren't enough seats left at a table and so your guests have to sit separate from the people they came with.


Guests are usually appreciative of being told where their seat is, because who wants to try to figure out where to sit in a room full of people that they may not know? Creating a seating chart makes it so much easier on your guests and way smoother for them when entering the reception and getting prepared for, you guessed it, FOOD!


8. All Things Ceremony (32:21)

Here we're talking about length, volume, and of course, temperature.


First of all, we're going to talk about reserved seating. Most wedding ceremonies have reserved seating for the parents and VIPs of a wedding party. But how do those people know where they are supposed to sit, and more importantly, how do your guests know NOT to sit there? What you want to avoid is a bunch of empty seats in the first two or three rows of your ceremony seating. This is where ushers and greeters come into play. Now, we see a lot of wedding ceremonies these days that don't have ushers/greeters, but it's really an important role, especially to your guests. A greeter is going to, you guessed it, greet your guests. They can give them a program if you have one and then direct them to the ushers to be seated. Now the ushers don't have to take guests to a specific seat, but it's helpful to be able to ask guests how many seats they need and if they have a side preference, then take them to the front-most rows that aren't filled yet. This avoids empty seats between guests and rows of seemingly empty seats towards the front of your ceremony. It looks SO much better in pictures, too!


Now here is where temperature comes back into play again. An important consideration is the temperature if you're wedding is outdoors. If it is very hot out, are your guests directly in the sun? Most likely, they will be arriving anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes prior to your ceremony, and they are going to be sitting in the heat for that length of time PLUS the length of your ceremony. So having some shade close-by, something cool to drink while they wait, and maybe some hand fans are a really great idea to keep your guests cool. Same goes for cooler weather; consider having some heaters on the sides of the ceremony and maybe something warm to drink to keep your guests cozy before and during the ceremony.


Also consider the length of your ceremony. Most ceremonies now are pretty short, sweet, and to the point and guests love that. Yes, this is the most important part of your day, the actual marriage, but guests want to see those moments and then get to the party! Think about incorporating special elements to break up your ceremony if it is a bit lengthier because let's be real, attention spans are not great when listening to someone talk and talk and talk, right?!


Don't forget about volume! So often, your guests can't hear what's going on, especially if they are seated towards the back, so make sure you have adequate mics and speakers to ensure no one is left out! Even if you're having a small outdoor ceremony, you'll want to make sure you have mics because wind and open space can carry volume away and your guests still might not be able to hear what's going on.


Lastly, make sure your guests have clear directions on what to do after the ceremony! Is there a cocktail hour, where is it, how long, are there drinks, food, etc.? Your guests, as mentioned, don't know the timeline and the layout of your wedding. Giving them direction after the ceremony makes all the difference to them because they don't feel lost to what is happening next in the day!


9. Volume and Length (38:25)

This is such an important factor of not only your ceremony, but your reception too! Let's talk about volume first. You want to make sure people can hear what's going on (toasts and speeches, the DJ announcing things, etc.) but you also want to make sure people aren't going deaf because it's too loud for the space that you're in. I'm sure you know how aggravating it is when you can't hear something that you know is important, and so this will make a world of difference to your guests.


Now length. Same as with ceremony, your guests aren't going to want to listen to your best man or maid of honor drone on for 30 minutes when giving their toast. Now, we know this can be an amazing speech and captivating for you, but it's a good idea to give your "toasters" a length limit. This just keeps everything short and sweet and captivating for you AND you guests. Think about this with all events incorporated into your wedding. Keeping things at a captivating length is a great way to appease your guests and not keep them waiting and waiting for the next thing to begin.


PRO-TIP 5: Consider putting a simple "schedule" on your guest tables, a very generic listing of what events are taking place so that your guests know what to expect and what they absolutely DON'T want to miss! Now, just make sure you don't get too detailed with it because as we said, a timeline ultimately is fluid and things can change, so we don't want guests getting upset if something doesn't happen exactly at the time it's supposed to.


10. YOU!! (40:23)

Your guests are ultimately there for YOU, so make sure you get time to see your guests! Savor your time at your wedding because it will go by FAST. Everyone is going to want to visit and catch up and be part of your special day, so make sure you are taking the time to experience the things that are important to you and the moments that you are going to remember for a lifetime.


You can incorporate some super-fun things on wedding day, like a photo dash! This is where you get to run around to every guest table and get a photo, and your guests will feel included and involved. Just know that your day is going to go by very quickly but ultimately, your guests understand and they are there to celebrate with you and be part of the memories you are making together!


Thanks for Listening!

And that's a wrap on this episode. If you have questions that you'd like answered or topics that you'd like covered, you can contact Michele and Christina at hello@sywpevents.com or go to www.sywpevents.com, take a look around, find our social media links, and use the contact form. Thanks for listening, and be sure to subscribe or follow on your favorite podcast app, and find The Planning Prerogative on Facebook


Catch this episode of the podcast HERE!





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