While weddings are all about affirming a couple’s love and starting their new married life together, many soonlyweds prioritize the guest experience when planning their big day. After all, their loved ones have supported them in their relationship and set aside time to come out and make their wedding day one to remember. But, what makes a great guest experience? Is it a playlist that keeps people’s toes tapping? Is it a menu that fills the space with delicious aromas? A design that leaves people in awe as they step into the reception area? Technically, all of it adds to an impressive guest experience. But when you look beyond the fundamental elements of a wedding, like food, music, and design, you’ll find many creative ways to say thanks and demonstrate your appreciation to your guests.
Meghan Ely is the owner of the wedding PR and wedding marketing firm, OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. Meghan and other experienced industry professionals have come up with a few fun ways to show your guests an extra-special time at your wedding:
A Welcoming Wedding Kit
For out-of-town guests, it can involve quite a bit of logistics to plan for travel and accommodations. When they arrive at their hotel, they may be ready for a break—or to party! Welcome bags are a great way to set the tone for the experience to come. Becca Taylor, the lead planner of Anthem House, suggests, “Guest welcome gifts are a must to start the party in an elevated way! When guests arrive at their hotel, they are greeted with a note from the couple that includes their wedding weekend timeline on it and a list of local places to see/foods to eat. These guest gifts also include some of the couple's favorite local treats and practical items like a hangover kit, etc.”.
A Hotel Hangout
Outside of wedding activities, people will likely go to their hotel to refresh and recharge. And if many of the guests are staying in the same hotel, it can become a fun and unplanned social gathering! Give them the space to mingle and get comfortable at their home base before heading back out for the next event. “Couples can book an extra hotel room to become a hang-out area for guests as a hospitality suite,” elaborates Joan Wyndrum, co-founder of Blooms By The Box. “This is a great place to stock full of snacks, drinks, and over-the-counter medicine, along with other toiletries they might have forgotten. You can leave a handwritten note in each of your guests' rooms to invite them to use this room whenever they would like. It also serves as a spot for family and friends to gather before and after the wedding.”.
An Educational Component
Who doesn’t love to learn a fun skill? Engaging guests at a wedding goes beyond serving enough drinks and playing the right music. A few intentional touches go a long way, and an interactive element can be just the answer. Sarah Blessinger, owner and lead planner of Kindred Weddings & Events, recommends that couples, “Incorporate a way for your guests to learn something during the event. For example, consider bringing in a talented professional to teach your guests a new dance, how to mix a specific drink, or how to put together their own floral arrangement. Incorporating something physical by getting guests up and interacting with each other helps create a connection to others and to the event itself.”
A Cultural Experience
Whether you’re jetting off for your wedding or you’re welcoming out-of-towners to your hometown, there are plenty of ways to infuse your wedding experience with the local culture. Think regional foods, flowers, and activities for guests to enjoy. “When attending a destination wedding, we've come to know that guests love immersing themselves in the culture of where they are.”, affirms Jen Avey, VP of Marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group. “When it comes to reception entertainment for guests, couples tend to lean into cultural traditions, such as a Luau party in Hawaii or a cigar-rolling station in the Dominican Republic. It shows how appreciative you are that they came so far to celebrate with you.”.
An End-of-Night Surprise
Of course, an unforgettable wedding needs an unforgettable send-off! There are many options to end the night on a sweet note, so get creative and consider what would wow your guests the most. “What better way to end the most amazing night than with a sparkling display of fireworks?”, says Bri Marbais, bridal stylist at The Bridal Finery. “Not only will guests be completely in awe but just imagine the gorgeous photos that will be captured.”. Need a flameless alternative? Laura Maddox, the owner of Magnolia Celebrates, recommends confetti cannons. “Why not try confetti cannons at the end of the event? Shock your guests by hiring a vendor with professional-grade confetti cannons for the last song!”.
Adding elements to enhance the guest experience doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming—especially when you already have a lot on your plate! While you could go the whole nine yards and put on an elaborate show, you can also achieve a successful event with simple, intentional details. The key to a winning guest experience isn’t in the complexity of the event but rather the ability to engage and connect with loved ones.
We partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you these helpful tips to ensure that your guests have a great time at your wedding. As always, thanks for supporting our sponsors!