How to Fix the Top 10 Wedding Guest Complaints
Yes, after all the planning and money spent and all the considerations made to colors, invitations, flowers, entertainment, food, beverages, photos and video… there will still be some common complaints at your wedding. What? Are you kidding me? Yup, and you can go crazy thinking “But what did I forget?”. Don’t give up, and don’t give yourself restless nights trying to make everyone happy. We put together some common problems and solutions that we have seen throughout the years photographing weddings.
Terrible Food- This is something that will really make an impression at your wedding for sure. We’ve seen under cooked chicken, cold steaks, smelly seafood and more. I’ve even gotten food poisoning at a couple of weddings!
The Fix- Check the reviews of your caterer for sure, and I’m talking before you even meet with them. You can also go with the recommendations of the venue since they will sometimes only work with a limited number of caterers. Set up a tasting long before your wedding and check to see if you even like the food. Discuss food allergies and dietary concerns ahead of time. Also make sure that they don’t run out of food at the cocktail hour. If you’re only having dessert or some light bites then make sure to communicate that with your guests so that they aren’t left hungry and eating your tables or ordering pizza. Seen it!
Blasting Nonstop Music- Got some earplugs?! What!! I have left some receptions literally with my ears ringing from the music. This is why my photographers and I have developed our own sign language to communicate with each. Another time we saw grandma have to leave the dance floor when the mosh pit started up.
The Fix- During the cocktail hour and dinner, this is a time for conversation and gatherings so make sure that the music is equally appealing to most everyone and at a low enough volume to carry a simple conversation. Check your guest list as you make your music list, it’s not fun to have an empty dance floor when you’re looking to have some fun dancing. Also, consider your seating chart and don’t put the older guests right by where the speakers are set to blast out the fun stuff when the party begins. If a song clears the dance floor don’t despair, a skilled DJ will quickly switch gears and get them back so make sure you have this conversation with your DJ prior to the wedding.
An Inconvenient Wedding Date- Are you planning your wedding on Super Bowl Sunday? Or perhaps on Christmas, or a beach wedding here in San Diego on the Fourth of July along with one hundred thousand of your closest friends clogging up the roads and beaches. Even asking your guests to join you on a holiday like Labor Day may interrupt some family traditions and travel time.
The Fix- So if you’re considering having your wedding at a popular time of year, check in with your family and closest friends to see if they have already made plans or would be open to attend. Your guests may be more inclined to consider attending if they knew about your wedding date well in advance, so the sooner you send out the save-the-date, the better. Being in San Diego has definite advantages, especially for weddings. You could actually make your wedding here into a destination and vacation wedding for your out of town guests. One last thing, it’s also a good idea to check your local events calendar to make sure that your wedding is not taking place at the same place of a large community event like having a Balboa Park wedding during Earth Fair or December Nights.
Seating Chart Challenges- OK, this is a true story from years back. We actually had a family member of the bride side arrest a family member of the groom side just days before the wedding. On the day of the wedding, the two opposing sides of the law were not seated at the same table but we present at the reception and we could feel the tension. This wasn’t fun for the bride to arrange last minute but she pulled it off. Seating charts are tricky since you can create friends, lovers, tension, and even fights if you’re not careful.
The Fix- Make sure that you’re not packing in your people too tightly to save on space, no one likes to eat like they are on a plane in coach. Keep your center pieces at a reasonable height and size so that you don’t have to safari through them in order to speak with someone seated across from you. If you just can’t fit all of your work friends, cousins, or parachute team at the same table, you can split them up at adjacent tables so that they can still access each other while seated and even share an awe moment when you dance. Be specific with the chart and think of the compatibility.
Invitation Confusion- So, you’ve invited your friend thinking that they are still single and surprise, they bring an unexpected plus-one and a family that you now have to feed and seat. Or your parents are separated and you’re not sure that your mother will appreciate your father’s new girlfriend that’s half her age. Well, this can happen if you use proper invitation etiquette but there is a way around this.
The Fix- Don’t assume and just see what happens with your response cards. And don’t let the decision be up to your guest. Be specific in your response cards that way if children are OK then say so, otherwise they are not listed by name. Yes this will take more work in the front end but if you specifically call out the names on your response cards with a check box “will attend” or “will not attend” then you’re clearly letting people know who is expected to join.
Check Out PART 2 for the next five problems and fixes.
I hope this helps you out!!
Richard Santini RHS Photo