As you nail down your guest list, one thought may come to mind: How will I make time for all of my loved ones? Checking in with each friend and family member is something many couples worry about when it comes to the logistics of their big day. After all, there will be plenty to pull you in every direction!
Fortunately, a bit of forethought can help you ensure no conversations are cut short and you get to spend time with all who came to celebrate your marriage. We sat down with a handful of industry experts to discuss how couples can give their guests the attention they deserve – here’s what they had to say.
How to Manage (and See!) All of Your Wedding Guests – by Meghan Ely
Host a welcome party.
One of the best ways to greet your guests is with a welcome party the night before your wedding. Then, the next day, you’ll have fewer people to chit-chat with and you’ll know where to dedicate your time.
“Having a welcome party after your rehearsal dinner helps,” affirms Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates. “Keep your rehearsal dinner to out-of-town guests, or an intimate few, but then have a ‘Post Toast’ or a welcome party where everyone is welcome. This allows you extra time to spend with everyone.”
Extend your cocktail hour.
Though you may picture cocktail hour as a stepping-off point to your reception, you can take advantage of this part of your timeline to socialize. Instead of using this space to take more formal photos, consider it a chance to spend quality time with those who came to celebrate you.
Wedding photographer Jessica Feiden shares, “One of my favorite ways to spend more time with guests is to plan an extended cocktail hour. This allows for more time to mingle and say hi to your guests and capture some informal photos with groups of friends or extended family members.”
Prioritize the order.
As you’re trying to make your rounds throughout the day, be strategic about who you talk to and when. It’s possible grandma might check out early, so think about who will head home and who’s there to stay for the long run.
“Prioritize greeting elderly guests and those who have traveled,” encourages Peter Mitsaelides of Brooklake Country Club & Events. “Who knows when you may see them again? While the odds are good you’ll see your MOH after returning from your honeymoon.”
Get photos out of the way.
There’s no denying that photos can take up a significant chunk of time on your wedding day. So to ensure they don’t interfere with guest interaction, get them out of the way at the beginning of your timeline.
“Do a first look with your soulmate, so you two can see each other earlier on in the day and take your formal portraits, including ones with your wedding party and family, before the ceremony,” recommends Lynne Reznick of Lynne Reznick Photography. “You’ll then be able to enjoy cocktail hour with loved ones and soak up every minute of your reception with the formal portraits already taken care of.”
Work with the right vendors.
Your vendors can make or break the success of your big day. And the right ones will ensure everything runs smoothly, so you can spend time connecting with guests instead of putting out fires.
Jenna Noelle Creative’s Jenna Porter notes, “The best way to ensure you are going to be able to spend quality time with your guests is to hire an experienced, professional, talented vendor team. A seasoned planner, photographer, DJ, and caterer will make sure that everything runs according to plan without your oversight or participation. Your only job is to relax and be present.”
Cut your guest list.
If you truly want to have time to enjoy yourself and chat with each attendee, you might want to take a look at your initial guest list. Ask yourself if each person is someone who will genuinely support you, have a great time, and make your day better than it would be without them.
“The easiest way to ensure you have time to intentionally connect with each of your guests on your wedding day is to keep your guest count low,” suggests Sarah Blessinger of Kindred Weddings and Events. “It is okay to restrict your invitation list to your inner circle of relationships. A smaller guest list also helps a couple not feel rushed to interact with each person they see.”
You’re going to need the energy to visit all those loved ones. So make sure you eat first before you jump from person to person. Don’t skip out on dinner – after all, you chose your menu so you could enjoy it!
“Set your schedule up so you can eat first, then mingle. Eating is important, and it’s a good downtime for you, so make that happen before you go off and visit guest tables,” urges Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events. “This also ensures you’ll be happy and willing to spend time with guests if your needs are taken care of first.”
Destination Weddings Travel Group’s Jen Avey also recommends being mindful of your seating arrangements at your reception. “Opt for gathered seating instead of a sweetheart table, so you and your spouse can mingle with guests during dinner.”
Work with your DJ.
When you hire a team of experienced vendors, you’re working with professionals who know how to ensure you get the most out of your timeline. Talk to your DJ about how they can help you visit each guest while having fun.
“The timeless trend of couples going table to table to say hello and get a photo with each group is back with a new fun twist,” shares Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com. “The DJ announces that the couple is making their way around, and they have only the time of that one song to complete all of the table visits. It keeps it moving but lets the couple do a quick round of hello’s all the way around the room.
Take a moment with your partner.
Let’s be honest: Ensuring all of your guests are taken care of can be exhausting! So remember to steal some private time with your partner to soak everything in, just the two of you. This is your day – make it what you want it to be.
Megan Estrada of NSWE Events recommends, “After the ceremony and before the cocktail reception, take a moment to have a private moment with your new spouse. Taking a brief time-out will allow you to catch your breath and prepare yourself for greeting guests.”
With careful planning and execution, you and your partner will have time to chat with your loved ones while still taking time for the two of you!
Meghan Ely is the owner of 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.