Etiquette Corner: Making guests feel honored

By Paula Paradis

You know the line that appears in many wedding invitations: “the honour of your presence is requested at the marriage of Jane and John”. This is exactly how your guests should feel at your wedding: like the honored guests that they are. This simple, but important, idea can get lost in the common focus of “It’s MY day!

To make sure that your guests enjoy your wedding as much as you do, keep these hints in mind.

Extend warm welcomes. Every event planner knows that “the event begins in the parking lot”. Many guests travel distances to attend a loved one’s wedding. Ensure they “get there” by including driving directions both with the invitation and on your personal wedding website. Make sure that there is adequate parking and security available for all. Assign an usher or your wedding coordinator to cover the entrance of the ceremony site and reception venue to welcome and direct your guests. Ensure that guests with special needs, such as the elderly, physically challenged, or those with young children have assistance.

Be mindful of time. Unless you are an international celebrity, there’s really no reason why your photoshoot,or change of clothing, should last two hours, while your guests are waiting for you. Brief your photographer in advance with a prepared list of shots you would like and quickly assemble your bridal party and family at the site.

While photos are happening, keep guests entertained and up-to-date by the Master of Ceremonies.

Be punctual. Brides and grooms, contrary to popular opinion, being late is not fashionable. It is quite rude to your guests who have made the effort to make it to your ceremony on time. Develop your wedding day timeline and distribute to the entire wedding party and vendors who are servicing your wedding. You will be surprised how stress-free and on-time your wedding will be if a pre-planned timeline is used.

Be good hosts. Meet and greet during the reception by moving around the venue. Every guest wants to see you up close, share some chit-chat, and have an opportunity to have a photo taken with you.

Always keep your guest list in mind when coming up with your menu and drink list. If most of your friends and family are health-conscious, include some options to meet their dietary choices and restrictions. Always ask your caterer to cater for a few more people than the final RSVP count. It is not unusual for surprise guests to arrive fully thinking that they had responded.

Weddings, by and large, are whole-day affairs, and whilst guests should not expect a restaurant-like smorgasbord, a fair portion of decent-tasting food is definitely in order for them.

If your wedding is held in an unusual locale always keep guests’ comfort uppermost in your mind. For example, the time of year-will it be too rainy or too hot? Is your site prone to mosquitoes or flies? Is the venue spacious enough to accommodate your guests?

Good hospitality planning resolves these issues before they become a guest issue. The solutions can be as simple as having cold bottled water available for hot weather, hot chocolate/cider for cold weather, umbrellas for rain and too much sun, and bug spray for pesky mosquitoes.

These small, easy thoughtful touches all add up to one thing:  being a good host. Your guests will appreciate them and will fondly remember your wedding day when they were truly treated as “honoured guests”.