There are many elements that go into having a fantastic wedding, and what an ideal wedding looks like is totally up to the couple. However, in attending weddings, writing about weddings, and planning my own wedding, I have noticed some common elements that can make a wedding extremely enjoyable for the couple and their guests. Here are some of my must haves. This list is not extensive, so if you have any additional ideas feel free to share them in the “Comments” section. We love hearing from you! : )
1) A great wedding party: Your wedding day will be enjoyable if you surround yourself with positive people. My bridesmaids were super supportive and they had no complaints. If they did, they didn’t share them with me. : ) They really went out of their way to make sure I looked and felt beautiful, and they ensured everything was in place. The groomsmen were equally enthusiastic and helpful. Make sure you choose your wedding party carefully and make sure your expectations for your bridesmaids are clear from the beginning. This does not mean be a “bridezilla.” Here is an example of reasonable bridesmaids’ duties and expectations from theknot.com.
2) A Heart Felt Ceremony: Some people view ceremonies as being the” boring part” of the wedding. You want your guests to fill connected to your wedding from the beginning. Having an engaging ceremony will allow you guests to really feel excited and inspired by your love. Make sure your officiant is engaging and really knows you as a couple. You may also want to consider writing your own vows. My husband and I wrote our own vows, and we are still getting positive feedback from our guests who say that our words really inspired them. In addition, think of what cultural traditions or unique ideas you can include. Maybe put your vows in a memory box, tie a unity knot instead of pouring unity sand like the couple below. I have seen weddings that have included dancers and African drummers. Your personality, talents, and beliefs can be showcased in your ceremony.
3) Having the Ceremony and Reception at the same place: Having the ceremony and reception in the same place is NOT a must, especially if you want a traditional church ceremony. However, I found by having our ceremony and reception in the same space, my husband and I were able to keep the positive energy of our ceremony going into cocktail hour. It was also very convenient for our guests, especially those who were from out of town. If you have too much lag time between your ceremony and your reception your guests may get bored and frustrated.
4) Cocktail hour entertainment: Having drinks during cocktail hour is great, but many couples are providing their guests with other forms of entertainment. You can hire a band or a soloist to play during cocktail hour. If that is too expensive, you can always instruct your DJ to play lively cocktail hour music. Some couples go all out creating hookah lounges for their cocktail hour, and hiring caricaturists to draw pictures of their guests. Many couples provide video booths and photo booths at their weddings to give their guests a fun activity to participate in, which can also double as a favor and a fun keepsake for the couple. Here is highlight reel of the photo booth from my wedding. It was so much fun!
[youtube url=”http://youtu.be/oTmjm7ZDP0w” width=”600″]
5) Having a Wedding Planner or a Day of Coordinator: You want to be able to enjoy your wedding day without having to worry about the details and logistics. A planner will take care of everything and create a “Day Of” timeline for you. Your bridesmaids can help to make sure everything is going according to schedule. Allow your wedding planner and your bridesmaids to answer all of your guests’ questions. You just sit back and take everything in.
6) A great floor plan: You do not want to create a floor plan in which your guests’ view is obscured. Make sure you have a floor plan that provides your guests with enough space to move around and allows everyone to see the action. We love these interesting floor plans by ellyB Events. A tradition floor plan with the dance floor in the middle and the tables surrounding the floor is always great.
7) Fantastic Food: Your guests will be happy for your union; however, if the food is bad they will talk about your wedding. Make sure to work with your caterer to ensure the food is tasty and hot. Whether it is a seated meal or a buffet, your meal can be a reflection of your culture and tastes. Having excellent food was very important to my husband and me, so we put a good chunk of our budget towards hiring a great caterer and having three food stations. The only complaint our guests had was that they couldn’t take food home in a to-go box.
8) Awesome DJ: The DJ should really amp up the already celebratory atmosphere of your wedding. If your DJ is horrible, it can shift the mood of your reception. Experienced DJs may have a mix tape that you can listen to, to help you get an idea of their style. If not, make sure you DJ is open to playing songs off of a play list you create for them. Also tell your DJ what you do not want them to play. If you do not want to hear the “Cha Cha Slide” or the “Wobble” 10 times, be sure to be clear about that.
9) Excellent Design: From the color scheme, to the flowers, to the lighting, to the stationery your guests will appreciate a wedding that is visually appealing. Decide what aspect of the design is important to you and budget accordingly. For example, you may be more focused on having beautiful flower centerpieces and less concerned with having upgraded linens and chargers.
10) Personal Touches: Your guests will love special personal touches that you put into your wedding. Do it yourself favors, such as homemade jam or cookies, or handwritten thank you notes at each table will make your wedding stand out. During the cocktail hour at my wedding we displayed art that we have created and collected over the years. We placed descriptions by each art piece detailing how the art revealed an aspect of our life and personality. Our guests loved it! They were occupied and they also got to learn more about us as a couple.
11) Friendly Vendors and Service Staff: Remember you will be with some of your vendors, such as your photographer and videographer, all day and you want to pick vendors you feel comfortable with. It is also important that the vendors who will be interacting with your guests, such as the bartenders and wait staff, are friendly and professional. Read reviews of your caterer and their staff. Check their ratings, and see what type of vibe you get from them during your tasting.
Happy Wedding Planning!