Simple hospitality has been ingrained in me since childhood; as I am writing this, I am racking my brain, attempting to narrow down the exact moment in which I learned that inclusiveness, authenticity, and generosity were the key to making others feel welcome. I can’t pinpoint the moment, however, all of my memories pertaining to hospitality lead back to one person: my mom. She taught my sisters and I to show others, even in the smallest way, that you care about them, and those lessons are still carried with me as an adult in everything I do, including planning weddings.
I believe in going the extra mile to make others feel welcome, as a way to elevate their experience. I'm that person who has a welcome basket ready and stocked in the guest bedroom at our home, filled with mini toiletries to welcome guests we may have at any point. As a bride, when it comes to your guests that have traveled hundreds of miles (and maybe even thousands) to spend your wedding day alongside you, how do you show them your appreciation? This can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to go overboard, or spend hundreds of dollars...but to add a few details into your wedding day to elevate their experience - that will certainly make all the difference. And, believe it or not, it’s all in the planning - the preparation, time, and thoughts put into the overall idea. Your wedding should be one for the books, not just for the two of you, but for everyone who attends. The intricate details, creativity, and simple hospitality of your wedding day is what will stand out in everyone’s minds long after you say “I do”.
I’ve compiled a few ways which will not only make your guests’ experience completely unforgettable, but will also make them feel appreciated and welcome at your wedding soiree:
1. Inquire with your venue if a coat check (for winter weddings) and valet parking is an option for your big day. This takes your wedding up a notch, and adds a touch of elegance. Also, it also shows your guests that you truly value their attendance and want to make it a stress-free day for all involved, including them.
2. Have servers ready upon guest arrival at cocktail hour with passed signature cocktails, wine, or glasses of champagne. Include a sugar rim or a stir stick that ties your wedding day theme together. This is very welcoming, kicks the evening off on the right foot, and prevents the bar from clogging with long lines. It's all about the details, darling, and this is something your guests will rave about.
3. If you're inviting a decent amount of out-of-town guests, Welcome Bags at the hotel are a lovely way to make a difference. After a long day of traveling, the hotel is generally the first aspect of your wedding that your out-of-town guests will experience. You don’t have to spend much on these to make them unforgettable; let your creativity shine! To keep costs down, because I understand they can quickly add up, consider a low-cost local treat, a few mini bottles of waters, and an itinerary for the weekend with directions to your venue - and your guests will be raving when they see you on your big day!
4. Organizing a seating chart, escort cards, or place cards can certainly be a laborious activity, but it will definitely be worth it. Some of your guests may have a lot of friends in attendance, while others won’t know a single soul. Leaving everyone to fend for themselves will absolutely be a chaotic game of musical chairs. Ultimately, friends or family members with bad blood may be forced to sit by each other, which will not be a good experience for anyone, including you. Take your desired wedding style into consideration, but keep in mind that guests generally do not feel constrained with assigned seating. Instead, most will appreciate not having to anxiously search for a seat in a crowd of strangers.
5. Ensure your guests are informed of wedding information and costs involved to participate in your day well in advance. This is especially important for your families, bridal party, and those traveling from afar. I put “guests” in bold print, because that is exactly what they are to you on the day of your wedding, regardless of your relationship. Nothing makes someone more stressed out than knowing they have to participate in an event that they can't budget for or have no idea what is going on, because the information was not provided. You’re not going too far by having a bridesmaid’s newsletter, or by sending out save the dates six months in advance. The more communication, the better. Make it as easy as possible for them, and I promise they will be thankful!
I hope these five simple tips assist you in your wedding planning, and help elevate your guests' experience! It's a magical feeling to be a bride and to hear guests doting on your wedding day details! For more wedding planning tips and tricks, be sure to follow me on Instagram!
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