Wedding season is upon us! I’m leaving tomorrow for a wedding in Scottsdale, AZ this weekend, and in the spirit of attending your first weddings of the year, I thought I’d give some advice to those who are not the photographer, but the wedding guests!
Most everyone goes to at least one wedding a year. Especially when you’re in your 18-30 somethings. People are just getting married all over the place. From experience as a bride, and someone who spends a lot of time with brides, a majority of the planning is not for the bride. Sure. She choses her favorite colors and stuff, but a ton of the decisions she makes are for her guests. Or at least with her guests in the back of her mind.
I’ve come up with a few ways that YOU, as a guest, can help the bride have the best day of her life.
One of the best things as bride is going to the mail box everyday to see who is coming to her wedding. Not only is that super fun and probably the only time in her life when she’s getting 5-10 letters daily, but when you RSVP early, you allow the numbers to take shape. If the RSVP date is April 2, the worst feeling is having no ideas whether those 200 RSVP’s are going to jam you mail April 1, or if you’re going to have to call all of the people individually so that you can give a correct number to the caterer. PHEW! Help relieve the stress a little and put that little, pre-stamped card in the mail with you and your guest’s name.
Don’t Arrive Early. Don’t Arrive Late.
There is a 30 minute unspoken window. IF you arrive early, you’ll be walking in on preparations. Or photographs. You’ll see the bride BEFORE she walks down the aisle, and she doesn’t want that. Sure, she’ll smile and give you a hug, but she’s about to get married. Give her, her photographer, and the wedding coordinator a little break and go sit in your car, or in the pews if you’re early. IF you’re late, I guarantee that the church doors will squeak… plus, you miss the bride coming down the aisle!
Mingle During Cocktail Hour
This is a big worry for the bride. “What if my guests don’t have fun? What if no one talks to each other?” The cocktail hour is set in place to give guests something to do during the family and bride and groom portraits. Sometimes this lasts less than an hour, but sometimes it lasts more! Please be patient as they try to find Grandma Moses who is sipping Shirley Temples at the bar, and are trying to direct a group of giddy girls and boys–herding cats, I tell you! Anyway, these photos being taken are going to be heirlooms, passed down to the next generation, displayed at the bride’s children’s wedding. YOUR job is to entertain yourself for just this hour while the bride is away! Talk! Meet someone new! Time will fly by, I promise.
Boycott Bed Bath & Beyond
Let me just say that I love that store. I registered there. But if you are one of those people who wants to give the couple something unique, something not on their registry, BB&B is not the place. It is very likely that the bride will end up with $500 worth of gift cards to Bed Bath & Beyond, and there is only so much BEYOND you can buy. Why not these amazing stores? William Sonoma, Anthropologie, Sur la Table, West Elm, Pottery Barn, or Crate & Barrel. There is also the option of getting something super personal. Their invitation or vows framed? A cute print of their names and wedding date? Etsy is a great option for CUSTOM. You’ll stand out!
Find the Bride
She is OVERWHELMED. This group of people will never be in the same place again, and she is trying to soak up every minute of it. It is possible that she might miss you, even with table rounds. Don’t get offended if the night is coming to a close and you haven’t had your one on one yet! This isn’t the Bachelor. It’s a wedding. Go say hi!
At our wedding, we ended up with a pile of gifts, and a pile of cards. Some of the gifts belonged to a card, and without it, we had no idea who gave us that gift. If you’re giving a card with a gift or a combo of money/gift card/gift, find a way to signify what you gave. Write what you gave on the card. Put a post-it under the wrapping paper, “Just in case the card gets lost, From ____.” It will help the bride give appropriate thank yous!
Did the bride hire a DJ? Does she have a playlist that sounds upbeat? Is there a band? GET UP AND DANCE. A huge worry of mine was that no one would dance. Even though atmosphere plays a big roll is getting people up naturally, if you can sort of tell the bride has tried to get people to dance, just do it! Dancing is fun, a great workout, and weddings are so much more fun when there is lots of dancing! Not to mention, dancing makes for great photos!
Everyone brings their camera to a wedding, but the only photos a bride ends up with are the ones from her photographer. I submit, as a wedding photographer, that you should deliver the photos you take to the bride via facebook on a DVD. As a bride, I LOVED seeing all of my wedding photos sprinkled on my news feed. We had one guest mail us a DVD with a self-made card with a photo of use on it. It was such a nice touch, and now I have MORE pictures of our wedding day!
Tell Her How You Feel
What was your favorite part about the wedding? How was it different from all of the other weddings you’ve been to? What personal touch did you love most? Your bride wants to know. She spent lots of money, brain power, and time into bringing this wedding together, and she is going to be wondering if you had a good time and if you noticed how much went into it. I loved hearing people’s stories from the wedding. What they loved. Their side of things. My wedding was the first big party I’ve ever thrown, and I loved hearing positive feedback!