Let’s speak frankly. Wedding guest complaints… they suck. They make the newlywed couple feel awful. After all, they’ve spent a large amount of money creating the most beautiful day possible… only to find out it wasn’t so for some people invited. This is why we’ve created a list of 10 biggest wedding guest complaints. When you read through, you’ll see how simple they are and how you can easily avoid them. We want your guests to remember your wedding forever – for all the right reasons. So, here are the biggest weding guest complaints and how to deal:
A date that doesn’t work
It’s worth checking out our list of all big events happening this year and in 2018. A long weekend may seem ideal to hold a wedding, but remember – many guests will be making plans to go away, or to spend them with family. Likewise, huge sporting events are a major distraction – you may find all the gents huddled around the TV in another room, instead of the dance floor at your reception. Even the groom may not be able to resist the latest World Cup shenanigans! On major holidays, you may have fewer people attending.
Not being told essentials in advance
By ‘in advance’ we mean on the wedding invitation or your wedding website. For example, an essential piece of information is whether any part of your wedding is outdoors. If you’ve ever walked over soggy grass in stilettos, you’ll know what we’re talking about. Disclosing driving time between reception and ceremony is a must, especially if it’s longer than 15 minutes (and make sure to include a map or give clear directions so people know where they’re going). Parking – also very important, including the price. A long break between ceremony and reception – anything over an hour lets the boredom set in, especially if there’s nothing for the guests to do. But if they know of this long break in advance, they may choose to go home, or pick up some lunch, or find some other pleasant way to fill the time. Plus ones – are they allowed or not? ‘Mary O’Connor and family’ is confusing as heck. ‘Mary, John and Claire O’Connor’ is not – these are the three people who are invited.
Guests are usually ok paying for drinks – as long as the prices aren’t ridiculous. 5 euro for a glass of wine – manageable. 8 euro for a glass of wine – you’ll get wedding guest complaints. One option is to ask the venue if you can pay towards the bar tab so your guests get charged less. Second, consider limiting the booze options to a few essentials – like a special cocktail, plus a selection of beer and wine. By varying your choices, you’ll be able to find a perfect fit for your budget. Third – and most important – don’t make yourself bankrupt by offering an open bar. An average wedding of around 100 people could mean an enormous booze bill. So do it only if you can afford it – it’s that simple.
Photo from Crystal & Brian’s real wedding abroad by Glamour Algarve Weddings
The guests never ever say ‘the wedding was lovely, but the sashes on the chairs didn’t match the napkins!’ But they DEFINITELY say ‘the wedding was lovely, but the food was terrible!’ Giving the food careful consideration is never a waste of time. If at all possible, ask for a tasting from your venue or caterer of whatever menu they are offering. If you don’t like it, chances are your guests won’t either. Ask if you can modify the menu – for example, have two superb courses instead of three mediocre ones. Definitely consider a hog roast or a buffet – they’re always a good option, because everyone gets to choose what and how much goes on their plate. Believe us, it’s better to cut back on something else for your wedding and put the money towards better food. And spare a thought for the poor vegetarians – read 10 Things You Can Say NO To For Your Wedding to find our thoughts on the goat’s cheese tart.
… and being kept away from the food
Depending on what happens between the ceremony and reception, your guests will either be hungry and thirsty or very hungry and very thirsty. They finally get invited to sit down… only to be treated to half an hour of speeches, a stand-up comedy show, an endless video montage, or a performance by a string quartet. It’s a well-known fact that people don’t enjoy entertainment when their stomachs are growling – so don’t delay dinner any more than is necessary! Keep speeches to no more than three minutes each, and schedule the entertainment elsewhere in the day – maybe during the lull between the ceremony and reception or before the band starts?
Freezing or having a heat stroke
For every person who checks the weather forecast before they leave home, there’s another who looks out the window and says ‘yay, sunny day!’ and puts on shorts and a t-shirt even though it’s January and -3 degrees outside. So, be prepared to make your guests comfortable. If you’re having a spring or summer wedding – provide adequate shade and cooling options. In hot climates, air conditioning is a must. Serve cool drinks, and lay out a basket of hand-held fans or even inexpensive €1 sunglasses. In the autumn and winter, it’s all about keeping warm. Pashminas or blankets, keeping outdoor activities to a minimum, setting up adequate heating in a marquee, umbrellas if there’s walking involved and rain is forecast – all these things are minor, but make all the difference and eliminate wedding guest complaints.
Photo from Helen & Philip’s real wedding by Insight Photography
Being squeezed like sardines at the tables
When you’re touring your wedding venue (better yet, going to a wedding fair!) make sure to find out how many chairs will be put at every table. Usually, the maximum number is already a little bit tight, with bumping elbows guaranteed. Ask if it would be possible to set up extra tables and have one less chair at each. The guests will be more comfortable, and the tables will be less crowded with all the plates, glasses, cutlery, decorations and other bits and bobs. The added bonus will be easier seating chart planning for you!
Not getting even a moment’s attention from the couple
Today, many couples decide against having a receiving line – they feel it’s awkward, or causes delays, or would simply take far too long when there are several hundred guests to greet. That’s no problem at all – but then you may not get to speak to some of your guests at all. One simple solution is walking around at the reception to greet tables individually – it doesn’t take as long as you think, but does the job beautifully. It’s unfortunate some people may feel slighted if they don’t even get a moment of the couple’s attention but of course, it’s your day and there are no hard and fast rules.
No place to escape the noise and loud music
After everyone has eaten and raised their glass to the happy newlyweds, most guests are eager to hit the dance floor. That’s fantastic, the more the better! However, there will be a few people who can’t dance, don’t want to dance, brought a baby, or just simply want to hang out and talk – without shouting over the music. When you’re having venue viewings, ask if there’s an area or room you can use as a quiet corner. Put a few chairs if there’s none, and that’s it! When getting married in a marquee, consider creating a chill-out area. Your guests will be grateful for your thoughtfulness. The alternative scenario isn’t pretty – you’ll either find a bunch of people hanging out in the toilets, or leaving early.
Photo from Orla & Graeme’s real wedding abroad by Algarve Wedding Planners
Not receiving a thank-you card
It’s so easy to make a beautiful thank-you card these days! You can choose your favourite photo from the day and have it printed on a card of your choice – done! Of course, you could also have something special designed separately, or purchase a set with your other wedding stationery. Send them fairly soon too – some say it’s ok to send thank-you cards up to a year after the wedding, but the truth is… if too much time passes, it’ll just look like you forgot. And if you’d like some help with the etiquette and what to write, just read our complete guide to thank-you cards right here. ‘I didn’t even get a thank you’ is one of the common wedding guest complaints, but so easy to avoid.
Main photo from Ross & Amy’s real wedding by DKPHOTO
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.