I cannot stress enough how important your guests are to your wedding! With the economy the way it is now, it takes so much for your guests to travel to be with you on your wedding day. The average guest count RSVP is down from years ago. Usually the rule of thumb for out of town weddings, we would guess about 70-80% from your invited guests would come. Today, it is about 60-70%. So with that said, today’s bride and groom really need to focus their details and efforts on going the extra mile for those guests that did decide to come and share in your day! Here is the first of a 4 part series on making your guests feel like a true guest of honor.
Before the big weekend arrives there are a few things you would want to do for your guests:
Wedding Website-In this day in age, guests are pretty computer savvy. One of the easiest ways to keep your guests up to date on activities, information, travel plans, registries (DO NOT PUT THEM IN YOUR INVITATIONS OR SAVE THE DATES-THIS IS TACKY), and so much more. There are a variety of options out there from free sites like MyWedding and TheKnot and then there are the more in depth sites that offer so many neat details and options like RSVP tracking, photo albums, and SOOO many design and color options….then you need to go to the Wedding Window!
Hotel Blocks-Have you ever been invited to a wedding outside of your town where you had to make travel plans and book a hotel room? There were too many choices to pick from right? Plus, you had to really dig deep to find out if the hotel was close to the wedding festivities. To curb this added headache for guests, many hotels will offer group discounts if you are booking more than 10 rooms at any one particular hotel. These rates will be lower than what guests can block them by themselves. You are also assuring your guests will be together and it allows for easier transportation pick ups by the transportation you are providing (see part 2). Tip: Try to book about 3 different price point options if you can. Hot free breakfasts are always appreciated and maybe try a local hotel with the southern flaire!
Out of Town Bags-(also known as OOT Bags) -If you are hosting a destination wedding then it is likely that all of your guests will be travelling to help you celebrate your special day. These can be simple or extravagant depending on your budget, number of OOT guests and your wedding theme. What a wonderful greeting for your guests to arrive in their hotel room after a long journey to find a bag or basket filled with some water , local treats like our famous Pralines, Byrd Cookies, Savannah Bee Honey, some snacks along with information about the weekend's festivities and local area attractions and coupon tickets for trolley rides or ghost tours! You can even theme it after your wedding or your personality as a couple! Idea: Encourage guests to attend the beach in the Lowcountry area by supplying a beach bag filled with flip flops, sunscreen, beach towel, a good book, chap stick, water and some good beach snacks!
Extending Your Rehearsal Dinner Invitation-Proper etiquette calls for you to extend the invite to attend your rehearsal dinner or maybe some light drinks and desserts following your dinner, to all guests who happen to come in town the day before the wedding. This is also a great time for them to mingle with your families and other friends they might not have had the pleasure of meeting yet. You can host a really low key BBQ or LowCountry Boil to keep costs minimal but include all those that happen to be in town early. If you are hosting a big wedding with a great many guests, you might have enough time to get around to see everyone (see part 3), so this is a great way to get some one-on-one time with a few of them before the wedding.
Check back for Part 2-On how to spoil guests during your ceremony.