Thursday, February 4, 2010

Guest’s View: What Makes a Wedding Memorable?

Over the past year, my close friend and groomsman Sam has been a guest at three very different weddings, including a huge celebration with a 500-person guest list. What, I recently asked him, were his favorite aspects, and what can a bride and groom do to ensure an enjoyable experience for their guests?

What I most love about his list is how simple it is. As a bride, I often find myself getting caught up in the smallest details in my desire to truly “wow” our guests. But Sam reminded me that sometimes, it’s the simple things that are truly the most special and memorable. Here, he shares his suggestions for giving family and friends a good time.

A ceremony that isn't too long. Don't get me wrong. I love weddings. But the actual ceremony should be no longer than one hour. Anything more makes guests tired, including me. About 45 minutes is ideal.

Good coordination on and before the big day. This really entails everything from giving good directions on how to get to the wedding site, to letting us know what types of gifts we should give, to clearly indicating where we should sit at the reception. All this is very helpful and just makes things go smoothly.

Open seating at the ceremony. I understand that certain family members and friends like to sit with people they know, but I think it's too restrictive to have the groom's guests sit on one side while the bride's family and friends sit on the other. Let's all mingle! What if I feel like sitting on the left side of the aisle and not the right, or vice versa? I certainly won't fight over it, but I think I should be able to sit anywhere.

Good food. It's definitely understandable that wedding budgets will vary. So, if the food isn't that great, I won't have a fit. I won't complain. It really wouldn't be a big deal. After all, I'm at the wedding to celebrate the couple's wonderful marriage. But boy, when there is good food, it just makes the wedding even better! Everybody likes good food, right? Also, I appreciate it when weddings have vegetarian menus, and when there are food items that people aren't generally allergic to. It lets me know the couple cares.

Fun entertainment and dancing. I definitely understand if entertainment can't be provided because of financial constraints. But if it’s possible, even something simple like classical music playing in the background is good. And do you know what’s even better? Seeing the couple dance. What a joy it brings to my heart when I see a happy man and woman in their new life together dancing! There are few human experiences more enjoyable than this.

Making sure the program is accurate. I don't expect perfection, but I do think it’s confusing when certain parts of the wedding are skipped over or things aren’t done in order.

Infusing culture and heritage. My friend interwove his Chinese roots throughout his wedding celebration, giving it a highly personalized feel. For example, he included a traditional Chinese tea ceremony before the wedding, and his fiancée wore a red dress to that gathering. The reception featured Chinese themes, too.

Non-traditional music. At my brother’s wedding, “At Last” by Etta James played full-blast as the processional. It was awesome and unexpected.

Creative favors. At one friend’s wedding, the couple gave guests a small Christian booklet called In Our Joy. It was a kind, selfless act that reflected their character.

What about you? How will you make your wedding especially fun and memorable for guests?

(Photo Credits: Loveliness Wedding Galleria)


  1. Wow, I really love this list!! I think we are incorporating somethings that are on it. Our ceremony will probably be 30 minutes TOPS, our food is we have a suprise to entertain our guests at the reception. Thanks for posting this!

  2. This is great! So far, I think we're doing well...our ceremony will be around 30 minutes, the food will be good, thre will be tons of dancing on our part...Having been to a few weddings this past summer, I definitely agree with these points!

  3. This is a really helpful post! I think we are doing well on everything save for the ceremony length - but we are having 2 ceremonies with a break in between for light snacks, coffee and tea. It will still be shorter than traditional Hindu wedding ceremonies, which can be upwards of three hours!

  4. Of all the weddings I have been to (and there have been many) I always remember the food and the music (or whether or not people are dancing...I LOVE DANCING) the most. So that's what I've been trying to focus on for our at home reception and in putting together the playlist for our cocktail reception on the island.

    This is a great list and awesome idea asking your friend!

  5. This is a great list! Thanks for sharing

  6. I love this! I always try to think about my guests when planning my wedding because I was once a guest as well. I think one wow factor at our wedding will be the music. My fiance is a huge music head and we both love to dance. I want my guests to stay on the dance floor. And we are trying to incorporate both of our cultures into the wedding and I hope all our guests will enjoy and learn something at the same time. And we are making foods from both our cultures! Really great post.

  7. Good words of wisdom.

    I walked down the aisle to At Last by Etta James. Love that song.