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!
Your events happening on time!
Booze, of course.
Transportation and Parking
How your wedding is decorated!
Volume and Length
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!