If you have ever attended a wedding, you’ll know that the worst thing you can experience is long, awkward gaps of time where you’ve got nothing to do. As a former wedding coordinator, I’ve got a few really practical things you can do to make sure there are no awkward gaps of time where your guests are sitting around wondering what to do.
I’m sure that making sure all your guests are looked after is a huge priority for you. If I’m right, then you should take note of these golden rules:
- Don’t allow anyone to go hungry.
- Always give them somewhere to sit.
And if you have the budget and time:
- Give them something to do.
Invitation time VS Actual start time
Let’s say your wedding invitations state that your ceremony will begin at 15:00. You can be certain that half your guests will arrive at 14:15, most will arrive at 14:45 and some will walk in just after 15:00. For this reason, you’ll want to plan on walking down the aisle at 15:15.
With this in mind…
Arrive on time
And by “on time”, we mean 15 minutes after the invitation time. Everyone expects the bride to be late, so this is acceptable. However, if you are (intentionally or unintentionally) running late and your ceremony ends up beginning almost an hour late, your guests will be sitting around for a very long time waiting for you. Set the tone for your wedding day by getting the proceedings underway in a timely manner. Otherwise, the rest of the day will have you playing catchup.
Give them a drink
This depends on a few factors.
- Did your guests travel far to get to your ceremony? By “far”, we mean 45 minutes or more.
- Is it going to be a hot day?
- Is your wedding ceremony outdoors?
Having glasses of lemon water available as guests walk in will make it feel like there’s less waiting time. Something as simple as holding a glass of water while you wait for the bride makes a huge difference.
Actual time on the invitation
If your wedding reception is taking place at a different location to your wedding ceremony, be sure to include the start time on your invitation. This is particularly important if there is an unusually large gap of time between the end of your reception and the start of your pre-reception drinks. Nobody wants to arrive too early and wander around the hotel lobby, thinking they might be at the wrong place.
Nearby coffee shops
This is only pertinent to wedding scenarios that involve a very long gap of time between the ceremony and pre-reception. Let’s say you have a 10am wedding ceremony and a 15:00 pre-reception. Give your guests a list of activities, coffee shops and lovely spots to kill some time after your ceremony.
Give them somewhere to sit
Standing around outside for pre-reception drinks can feel like an awfully long time. Sitting comfortably, with a drink in hand and a stunning view? Now that sounds like my kind of fun.
You don’t have to go overboard here, especially if your budget is tight. A few nibbles, a bread table or cute boxes of popcorn are some budget-friendly ways to feed your guests before the reception starts.
Give them something to do
While you’re out having portraits done with your photographer and bridal party, your guests will be waiting to get the party started earlier. While the dinner and dancing will only commence later, give your guests some games to play and they’ll be happy!
Have a good MC
Your MC is going to set the tone for the wedding by making sure everyone knows what’s going on. The MC is the best person to make sure everyone knows where the toilets are, where to sit, and when dinner is going to be served. Pick an MC who is reliable, able to keep the festivities on track (with the help of your wedding coordinator, of course) and confident in delivering all relevant information to your guests.
Space out your speeches between courses
Consider this: Walking into the reception hall only to begin with speeches is possibly the worst wedding faux pas. There, I said it! Nobody wants to sit through dull speeches when they’re hungry. My advice? Begin with a short welcome and some house rules, go straight into starters, and then the first set of speeches. Break for dinner, finish off with the speeches everybody has been waiting for (the groom!) and then cut the cake and serve dessert. No more awkward gaps of time where your guests are sitting around wondering when the food will come out. No more holding thumbs that this is the last speech.
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Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.