How to be a Gracious Host at your Wedding

ABC 7online and The Knot put together a list of helfpul hints to make your guests feel simultaneously comfortable, joyful, and excited.  It may take a little patience and forethought, but it’s well worth the effort to ensure that everyone at your wedding will be having fun!

Review the Guest List  Discuss the invite list with your fiance and your families a week prior to the wedding to avoid any uncomforatable situations, and to find out about key people to meet and any taboo topics (like Aunt Pat’s rebellious son). It will make it easier when you’re talking to someone you may not know intimately.

Don’t Be Late If you’re taking photos before the ceremony, give the photographer a wedding day schedule so he stays within a specific time frame — you won’t want to keep guests waiting, wondering if the bride is going to show up. If you’re taking photos after the service, still keep an eye on the clock. Otherwise, picture time may encroach on cocktail hour, delaying the party.

Make Eye Contact It sounds obvious, but always make eye contact when talking with your guests. You’re the ones who will set the wedding’s tone. If you appear to be nervous, that feeling will reflect on your guests, or if you’re constantly looking away, you may come across as bored or distracted.

Designate Party People Ask one of your friends to be a guest host at your wedding. Make sure he or she is charming, kind, and a good conversationalist. Responsibilities include welcoming guests and directing them to the gift table, bar, and dance floor.

Talk to Every Guest If you chose not to have a receiving line, make sure you visit each table. Guests have come to celebrate your wedding (often spending time and money to get there) and expect the opportunity to talk to you for at least a moment or two. Be sure to thank them for coming — often the perfect time to do this is while your guests are eating dinner.

Make Careful Seat Assignments The reception seating chart is critical. We all know there is an underlying competition for the best table at the wedding (“We’re the most fun, look at us!”), but do your part to make sure that you distribute good vibes evenly. When placing your guests, think about who would enjoy conversing together, even if they don’t (yet) know each other. Connections to tablemates are great ways to ensure that your guests enjoy themselves and have people to converse with throughout the entire reception.

Be Ready For Gifts Most guests know they shouldn’t bring their presents to the wedding, in case they go missing and so that nobody has to lug them home. But if you see that someone has brought a gift, be sure to thank them in person, but send a note too. (You won’t be expected to notice everyone who’s bearing a gift.)

Explain Customs If your wedding incorporates customs that your guests may be unfamiliar with, be sure to explain. Let your guests know about these special traditions by including a card with the invitation or in the program. This will give them a better idea of what to expect.

Keep Guests Satisfied Hot day? Serve guests water to prevent fainters (and complainers). Also, make sure there is enough food at the cocktail hour — and that the servers are hitting all corners of the room and not just the kitchen-stalkers.

Get Your Parents Involved The parents of the bride and groom are also a part of the hosting team, so make sure they give their thanks to guests as well. There will likely be some guests there who you’re not familiar with — who are in your parents’ posse — so it’s of the utmost importance for your folks to talk with and thank these guests.

Troubleshoot Music Woes You’re never going to please everyone, but speak to the band or DJ ahead of time about who, exactly, is attending the wedding. Though your grandma might get a kick out of seeing the younger set shake it to Beyonce, four hours of pop might make her take out her hearing aid. Bottom line: Make sure that the band or DJ plays a wide variety of music. During dinner, ask that the songs are played at a medium decibel level so everyone can enjoy conversations, and the music too.

Cater to (Almost) Everyone’s Needs Make sure that the venues for the ceremony and the reception are accessible to all guests. If a guest uses a wheelchair, make room at the front of the ceremony space where there’s a good view of the vow exchange. It’s also a nice touch to ask elderly guests, or anyone else sitting on the sidelines, to dance; they will be touched that you took special effort to include them in the action.

Say Thank You! Besides thanking guests for coming, you, of course, need to send out thank-you notes as soon as possible — at the latest, a month after receiving the gift. Personalization in your note is appreciated and will be noticed, even if it’s included in just a sentence or two. Unsure of what to say? Reference the person’s gift and remark on how much you enjoyed the chat you shared at the wedding.