In part 3 of our new series 'Notes On A Wedding',
Emma Woodhouse, aka, The Wedding Reporter, offers advise on how to deal with the more sensitive and frustration inducing aspects of planning a wedding. Avoid the need to feel you have to throw your own chair, by following her simple steps of advice…
For the majority of people who choose not to elope, they presumably invite a vast number of family and friends to their wedding because they want to share the experience and celebration. It’s fairly safe to assume that the majority of those esteemed wedding guests will be delighted and honoured to be part of the day.
If you’re immensely unlucky, you might just find that you have one or two Wedding Whingers to contend with. These unassuming critics are entirely oblivious to the fact that their ‘observations’ can often be taken as outright insults by the happy couple. Sometimes it’ll be an elderly relative who have, quite literally, never experienced anything like your wedding before, other times it might be a work colleague who may themselves have recently tied the knot and use your wedding as a case study to show that they are now a wedding expert.
Sometimes, the root of the problem is that weddings will make all of your acquaintances become headless chickens. You know the details inside out because it’s all you think about, but they barely glance at your wedding invitation to find out where you’re getting married or what they’re meant to select as their meal choice. We’re all just ‘too busy’ to pay too much attention these days.
I can’t save your feelings from being hurt – your adrenaline is pumping, you’re having the best time of your life, you don’t want to hear contrary – but I can offer some guidance on how to deal with wedding complaints and give those Marriage Moaners slightly less to find fault with.
1. Not knowing where to go.
It’ll start as soon as you send out your invitations: a lot of your wedding guests will turn into morons who are unable to read instructions. It’s possible that the same people who text you on the morning of your wedding to ask you what time your ceremony starts, how they can get there and where they can park, will continue to be geographically confused throughout the day.
To avoid this, send out an email a week before the wedding to all your guests to remind them about all the finer logistical details. On the day, you can combat their confusion by making sure it’s not just the ushers who are in charge of directing people – charge your bridal party with becoming pointing people so that they can show anyone who asks where the loo is, how to get to the wedding breakfast, where the bar is, where they can hang their coats, leave their gifts, call a taxi…
2. The Hunger Games
The old adage that you can’t please all of the people all of the time should have been coined about the dilemma of mass catering. There’ll always be someone who doesn’t like any of the menu options, or would prefer your mushroom & tarragon jus without the tarragon, or who needs to specify the exact way they like their veg cooked. I know, I’ve met them all.
My advice? Nod, smile, promise them the earth and then give them exactly what everyone else has. Unless they have real allergies, they won’t notice the difference.
Also, people will bemoan their empty tummies if not fed frequently. Wedding receptions are akin to third world starvation for some guests, it would seem. In this case, make sure there is the possibility to give them little and often, whether this is canapés and an ice cream stall during your drinks reception, popcorn cones after dinner or a rolling buffet of sweeties/cheese/pork pies/cakes throughout the evening. Giving them the opportunity to graze will certainly curb those rumbling tummies.
Oh, and don’t be surprised if the same people who stand at the back of your group shots whining that they are hungry are the same ones who proclaim, “I’m so full I simply couldn’t finish my meal!” after the wedding breakfast. Nod, smile, walk away…
3. Money, money, money
Here is a topic that divides popular opinion: whether to have a cash bar at your reception. Logic dictates that a guest should never presume and always bring a wallet stacked with ‘fiddies to get the next round in. Etiquette dictates that the bride and groom should stump up for an open bar as a thank you to people for joining them.
Unless you are so well off that you can afford to keep the booze flowing all night, some drunken wisecrack will make a quip about you being tight or suchlike. Never mind the fact that you have kept them fed and watered all day, all they’ll see is that they have to pay for their own Jägerbombs.
Here’s what you need to do:
• Make it very clear what the situation will be beforehand, i.e. have a footer on your invitations that explains drinks after 9pm must be paid for, or wine & beer is free, for everything else you’ll need to pay.
• If your venue has expensive bar costs, indicate this in advance as well. A friend told me she ended up speechless after a round of 4 drinks cost £70 and the bar didn’t take card payments. You can add this to the footer in terms of ‘The bar will be open from 8pm and beverages start from £11.50 for a spirit and mixer.’
• Cut out the cheesy ‘We require your presence not your presents’ in favour of ‘Splash your cash behind the bar to get a round in rather than bring gifts.’
4. Climate Change
Wedding guests can be big babies about standing around in inclement weather for long. Too hot and they wilt; too cold and they perish. Rain? End of the world. Wind? Catastrophic for large hats and carefully coiffed hair-dos.
You can’t control the weather (sorry) but you can help your guests adapt to it. Comfort boxes that provide pashminas for chilly evenings or handheld fans to cool the brow on the hottest of days will not only satiate spiralling temperatures but also prove you to be the hostess with the mostest. And regardless of the season, if you’re getting married in Britain make sure you have a good stock of umbrellas at all times.
5. Ungracious Newlyweds
I tend to think in this day and age, most people realise that a wedding day is madness and it’s very unlikely that the bride and groom will get round to having prolonged conversations with everybody. On the day, you should attempt to make sure you talk to the members of your wedding party who have travelled the furthest, the ones you haven’t seen forever and your most elderly guests as they appreciate you making time for them.
Don’t get hung up about saying hello to everyone, but do use the opportunity between courses of your wedding breakfast to perhaps mingle amongst the tables and say hi where you can.
The very worst thing you can do is go off on honeymoon and never acknowledge the day you just had. Wedding Whingers like nothing more than subsequently telling everyone precisely how much they spent on your wedding present before triumphantly hooting that they never received a thank you card.
Your reasons may be fair and just, but you can’t scrimp on this duty. Make sure you send a personal note to every single guest to thank them for sharing your day (check out the beautiful thank you card offerings over at Artcadia, HelloLucky! and Emily & Jo), as well as any other contribution they may have made. It may seem like agony, but it is absolutely the done thing to prove that you are not also suffering from the Malady of Modern Manners.