Keeping guests happy

I was motivated to put my penny in after reading the blog post below: and after lots of google and plenty of laughs it would seem that there are definitely top guest peeves.  Regardless of country or season they are all very much the same.  I would like to ditto and highlight, from my own experience, what tops making guests uncomfortable.

Yes, it is your day and you deserve to have the day of your dreams.  Keeping your guests happy plays an important part of a successful day.  These are the top five things, that in my opinion, make guests uncomfortable.

1.  Absolutely, at the top of the list is keeping guests waiting too long between the ceremony and dinner i.e. pre-dinner drinks.  It really doesn't matter what entertainment you provide to keep your guests occupied.  Anything over 1 hour 30 mins is too long.  It is the major gripe that we need to deal with as co-ordinators.  Agitated guests pushing to be seated.  How much longer do we need to wait?  On our side we are trying to keep everybody happy until we have candles lit and are ready for seating.  After all, we want all guests to experience the "wow" moment we have been working on for months.  This is an issue that needs to be dealt with alongside your photographer before your big day.  It is discourteous to keep your guests standing around too long, plain and simple.  We all know that you want to get as many amazing photographs as possible but an experienced photographer should be able to manage a do-able schedule within a 90 minute period.

2.  Not having a seating plan.   The first thing guests look for when arriving at the reception is the seating plan.  People relax when they know where they will be seated and with whom.  You do not want anxious guests.  You want happy, relaxed guests that are not worried about scrambling into dinner and finding a seat.  I would go as far as to say that I favour both a table number as well as a personalised place setting for each guest.  Seating guests swiftly and as effortlessly as possible is definitely what we strive to do.  We allow 20 mins to seat guests.

I always advise my bridal couple to ask their photographer to take some shots mingling with the guests just prior to seating.  30 mins before we are ready to seat the guests we start lighting candles.  This is an ideal moment for the bridal couple to sneak a preview of the venue - flowers and decor that have taken months to plan.  It is also a moment to take a breath before the "second" round of events.  You can also avail yourselves of an opportunity to "freshen up" whilst guests are being seated. 

3.  Outdoor weddings in South Africa during the summer without adequate shading, water etc.  Everybody is so conscious of not being exposed to excessive sunlight.  Nobody plans to be seated in the baking sun for over 30 mins all dressed up to the nines!  If you are planning an outside ceremony you should ensure that you have organised adequate shade cover for guests, water upon arrival, sunscreen and also ensure that your celebrant is sensitive to the fact that your guests are outdoors. By the same token, sitting shivering in the cold is also unpleasant.  Ensure that you have planned and are sensitive to your guests needs.  It will be much appreciated.

4.  Speeches that are too long are simply just plain boring and awful.  Momentum is lost and no matter how clever, witty and eloquent your speech makers are, anything over 40 minutes is insufferable!  Sorry, I am being so blunt but, fortunately or unfortunately, I am just saying it as it is.  It is common knowledge that the majority of human beings can only concentrate for 40 mins, so anything longer means you have lost your audience.  Guests do not want to hear about school achievements etc.  Keep speeches relevant and in the here and now concentrating not on individuals but the couple.

5.  Large floral arrangements that totally block being able to see and converse with people opposite.  Weddings are the one time when magnificent large flower arrangements, candelabra etc. can be used as table decor.  For once in your life you can be over the top but make sure that your stylist/florist is sensitive to the comfort of your guests by not having humungous flower arrangements blocking free flowing conversation.  If we are setting a rectangular table we place taller/larger arrangements in front of the side plates and not directly opposite the place setting.  Arrangements should be on thin stemmed tall vases above eye level.  It is even more important on a round table that arrangements are either below of above eye level.  Candles flickering directly at eye level should also be avoided.  Ask your co-ordinator to be aware of any decor that is obstructing conversation between guests so they can remove or re-position it with minimal fuss.  Even though it is extremely annoying to find that an arrangement blocks your flow of conversation it also enfuriates me when guests sit down, take it upon themselves to remove an arrangement and place it on the floor.  Very rude and ungracious. 

Having touched on the issues of what guests dislike I think a blog post should be devoted to guest etiquette.  The behaviour of invited guests astounds me at times.  I will leave you with this thought, until next time......


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  • 2015-07-22 20:13:42

    With our wedding quickly approaching, this is very good to keep in mind. Thank you!

    • 2015-07-28 16:24:24

      Hi Kirsten, I am glad that you enjoyed our post and found it helpful. Good luck with your special day.


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