As we know inspiration is everywhere, especially when it comes to weddings. Recently I asked members of the Bridechilla community, our Facebook group, what were some of the experiences and observations from past weddings that have inspired their own wedding planning, either by giving them ideas or cementing the details an aspect that they don’t want include in their wedding day.
In the the next couple of episodes of the podcast I share some of our favourites.
There are so many great suggestions that will guarantee to delight and inspire you!
Listen to episode 295 of Bridechilla
Skip anything you aren't 100% excited about
I went to a wedding where the bride and groom skipped the bouquet toss, the garter toss, favors, and much more. It was also vegetarian because the bride is a vegan. And you know what, none of those things bothered any one in our group. It was the most fun wedding I've ever been to because it felt like we were on the dance floor all night. That wedding taught me to skip anything I wasn't 100% excited about!
"No one else REALLY remembers the color of the flowers or what the linens looked like"
Ditch the waste and waiting times
I was a wedding photographer for 8 years...saw my fair share of cake tossed into the trash, and favors left all over (quite possibly why these two things are likely to go RIGHT into the f*ck it bucket.) You also realize that A LOT of the details of the day are...really just for the bride & groom (and the photographer since they capture them, lol) -- no one else REALLY remembers the color of the flowers or what the linens looked like or ...if you even HAD effing chair covers.
As a guest once, the bride and groom took THREE HOURS in between a lengthy ceremony and reception to go romp around in the fields during a photoshoot. No apps, just drinks and mixed nuts. Everyone one was BEYOND wasted by the start of the reception and STARVING. We still call it The Famine of 2009.
And first looks. As a photographer, I got to be a part of quite of few of these are they just own me. I wasn't sure FH would be on board with it for our own wedding (I get why some people aren't) -- but it sounds like he is as we're totally about "stealing moments for ourselves -- JUST for us." -- but First Looks not only help the timeline of the day...but give you a moment just for the bride & groom, and from what I've seen/experienced -- don't deter from that aisle moment everyone wants either.
Photo by Fabian Møller
"Nobody knew women aren’t meant to drink so the reception was incredibly uncomfortable.
Some guidelines on the website would go a long way!"
Educate your guests about cultural traditions
Call out the ceremony dress code on the invite if very unique (religious or very cold outside) not just on wedding website
We went to a Sikh Indian wedding where we received no warning of what was expected. Google gave us incorrect info, and thus we didn’t come prepared with donations for the temple. A girl showed up with bare legs and received backlash and there was a full bowing and standing sequence that all the ‘visitors’ completely ‘stuffed up’ and a tasting ritual which is awkward when you don’t want insult anyone. Also, nobody knew women aren’t meant to drink so the reception was incredibly uncomfortable. Some guidelines on the website would go a long way!
At this wedding the couple didn’t share any vows (just a specific religious ritual) and the bride chose to not give a speech which meant none of the guests heard the bride speak at all the entire night, even a quick word or thank you would’ve been really great, since everyone delivered such long speeches
Photo by rawpixel.com
Wedding Food aka avoiding hangry guests
The things I remember most about weddings is the food (if it's bad and I get hangry that's pretty much the ONLY thing I remember. Also consider if people aren't eating, they get drunk a lot faster.) and how considerate the couple is to their guests (did they force everyone to take their seats and sit in the sun for 20+ minutes before the ceremony even started when it's 100+ degrees? I mean, I get that it's their day, but don't be a dick).
I let guests know what time they were going to eat beforehand and gave them a timeline of the cocktail hour. Nothing worse than standing around at a cocktail hour not knowing when the reception will start. Also, that food is what people remember the most! I have been to weddings where the timeline wasn’t given and it ended up being close to an hour and a half wait to 2 hours.
"I also learned that in the long run I don't remember many details. I remember things that were particularly unique or touching but beyond that I don't remember a whole lot."
I was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding. I attended the rehearsal dinner and the wedding and they had the same meal for both. It was good, but I was like "didn't I just have this for dinner last night?" So I learned that variety is probably a good idea for the rehearsal and actual meal.
I also learned that in the long run I don't remember many details. I remember things that were particularly unique or touching but beyond that I don't remember a whole lot. I just remember being there and being happy for the person getting married.
I did remember getting up to dance to my favorite song and the server taking my cake away when I only had one bite of it though, so I was sad about that! LOL
One of my FAVORITE things that happened at a friend's wedding was her genius idea to bring out appetizer-type foods LATER in the night. They had a fairly regular setup -- passed appetizers at cocktail hour, a sit-down dinner, cake, open bar for a few hours (cash bar for the rest of the night), dancing, etc. But a good way into the "party," well after dinner was served and well into the open bar hours where people were tossing back drinks, servers brought out comfort-style appetizers like mini-sliders, little tacos, small mac-and-cheese cups, and my entire table was like, "WHAT IS THIS MAGIC?!" It was seriously THE perfect thing because we'd digested from dinner, were buzzed so comfort food was like THE BEST THING, and a good idea to offer to guests to help soak up the booze and prevent people from getting too drunk throughout the remainder of the night.
Photo by photo-nic.co.uk nic
Cash bars at weddings? Remember to bring Cash!
A friend- he was at his cousin's wedding, it ended up being a cash bar, and there was no ATM within 20 minutes of the venue- and none at the venue (very remote cottage style in Rhode Island). Seriously if you're having a cash bar, let people know ahead of time. It may seem uncouth to put that out there- but it's so necessary.
Big budget weddings vs modest budget weddings
So I have been to beautifully styled and decorated weddings (with lavish favours and decorations etc) that were enjoyable, and I have been to cookie cutter, "package" style weddings that were equally enjoyable, even without the extra touches. What matters to me as a guest is whether your guests enjoy themselves, and have plenty of (tasty) food + drink and there's good music + fun dancing.
(And in the case of the lavish / opulent one, it was combined with a bride who complained about how little some of her new husband's family members had given them in $ at their engagement party, and the whole thing just felt very showy in a not enjoyable way at times - like she was a lot more focused on how her wedding photographed than anything else.)
Having seating charts at weddings or going rogue?
I always thought it was super picky to have a seating chart, but I have been to weddings with and without, and the weddings with them always go smoother and doesn’t make guests feel awkward looking for somewhere to sit. A wedding I went to without, my boyfriend and I ended up at a table on the other side of the room for our good friends. Also, I don’t ever remember the chairs I sat in, the color of the tablecloths, or even the centerpieces. But I remember little things that are unique to that couple. Like a wedding I went to where they had little “Easter eggs” of their favorite show thrown about in the wedding: in the guest book, in the music, etc.
"Please do not make your friends and family sit through a slideshow featuring photos of you before you serve dinner."
Considering ditching the seating plan?
Please do not make your friends and family sit through a slideshow featuring photos of you before you serve dinner. You can have it running in the background but no one cares to sit through it while hungry.
Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography
Wedding Games and getting people to dance!
Personally, I'd say don't worry too much about cocktail hour entertainment (giant jenga, lawn games etc). Been to so many weddings where these were laid on and untouched because people have hands full of drinks/canapés or are socialising instead.
If you want EVERYONE to dance, DO NOT put the bar in another part of the venue. Right next to the dance floor is ideal. (If you have alcohol). That's honestly the biggest takeaway I've found for weddings. There are some amazingly beautiful venues with underground bars, or cool houses with an actual bar area. The problem is, everyone LOVES hanging out at the bar! It's a fun place to chat and catch-up. Plus, once you run out of your drink, you have to pull yourself off the dancefloor and get distracted by catching up with everyone at a bar in a different room or area.
My mom’s wedding had people dancing in our family that I don't think I've even seen smile before that day partly because the band was phenomenal. But also, because they just grabbed drinks right next to the dance floor and continued on their way.
Sound checks are your friend
Please do sound checks. Last wedding, I went to the officiant was fading in and out as he rotated to look at the crowd. Oh and also, super funny actually- but the officiant forgot to tell the crowd to sit down after the bride walked down the aisle so they stood for like half of the ceremony. Make sure you tell your officiant to have your guests sit.
Shorter ceremonies are good!
I'm avoiding a giant ceremony length. I've been to two that I literally had to suppress my yawns through, eek! I feel like sometimes that's hard to avoid if you're doing a religious ceremony (my FH and I aren't, so we don't have to worry about cutting traditions short or anything), but if at all possible, it's great to keep things timely and meaningful. You don't want your guests zoning out and just thinking about when the party's going to start.
"Think about your requests before making them"
Communication with your bridal party
I'm in a wedding that hasn't happened yet, but most of the bridesmaids are miserable because the MOH is micromanaging everything (and doing so poorly). We were not involved in planning the shower at all (the bride had told me she didn't want a shower...) and then we were billed for food and decorations at the shower. I could afford it, but some of the bridesmaids are students or otherwise have really tight budgets, so it was much more difficult.
I definitely recommend making sure there is communication from the bride/groom and wedding party. Being aware of the wedding party's budgets is also key. Another thing that the MOH asked is that we have a backup plan for travel in case of bad weather because some of us are out of state. I'm flying so if my plane can't take off, I will not be at the wedding. There is literally no other option unless I take the entire week off of work. Think about your requests before making them.
Photo by Artsy Vibes
Feeling left out as a partner of a bridal party member
I've been to a few weddings where my fiancé was a groomsman. At some of those weddings, the bride's head table was only for people in the bridal/groom party and not their dates. As a date of a groomsman, these were the boring weddings as I had to be separated from my date! Other brides allowed the dates of the groomsman/bridesmaid to sit at the head table. I felt this was kinder to the dates. I'm definitely allowing the dates at the head table because I want everyone to have a good time.
Enjoying the day without the stress
Something I've noticed about all of these weddings - the brides that really put it in their minds that they are going to be relaxed and enjoy the day, do. No matter what mishaps pop up, every single one has told me it was the best day ever. The weddings I've had the most fun at are the ones that the couple is carefree and happy - because that's all that really matters! That's something I'm trying to remember for our day.