Planning & Inspiration

What Guests Really Want and Enjoy at a Wedding

Planning your wedding with your partner is essentially all about piecing together all of the elements that are personal to you. In fact, you’ve might’ve even dreamed about this day since the early stages in your relationship – from the outfits you’d wear, the big ceremony arch, what song you’d walk down the aisle to, and so on. 

Now that you’re preparing to bring those moments to life, you’ll want to make this experience just as joyous for your loved ones who have watched your relationship blossom. So, in order to make this a day to remember for everyone, we polled some top industry experts on what guests really love to see at weddings. 

Image by Jenny DeMarco Photography

# things that guests rave about 

If you think back to the weddings you’ve attended, you likely have a pretty clear sense of which one(s) stood out to you the most. Maybe there was a fabulous oyster bar, maybe the décor was to die for, or maybe it was just feeling connected to your family and friends. 

As Bobbi Brinkman of Bobbi Brinkman Photography suggests, “Interactive experiences allows [guests] to move from one area of the wedding to another and have different food and signature cocktails that are being prepped or demonstrated by a chef or mixologist. Guests seem to really enjoy seeing artists do something that is native to the area, city, or state of the wedding. They like to see roaming flame throwers, live painters and even actors portraying a themed tarot card or fortune readers.” 

Liz of Lizzy Liz Events agrees, noting: “Guests will remember two things. Delicious and unique food, especially during cocktail hour as it’s the time to impress guests with fun small bites and signature cocktails to warm up for the reception. And a fun takeaway that is personalized to the guest. It could be a laser-cut name, handwritten thank-you note paired with an escort card, or personalized tote bags.” 

According to Bri Marbais of The Bridal Finery, guests are most attracted to wedding entertainment. “If couples decide to go the DJ route, it’s important to discuss all of the services they may offer aside from the music itself such as lighting installations, interactive enhancements, and added live music touches.” 

Image by Renee Lemaire

Why it’s important to keep your guests entertained all day 

Not only do you want to ensure that your guests have a wonderful time celebrating with you and your new spouse, but you want them to know that their comfort and commitment means a lot to you.  

Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group says, “When asking your friends and family to travel far for your wedding celebration, it’s a nice gesture to give-back an extra memorable experience, so they really think the trip was worth it! They’ve shelled out a lot of money and time to celebrate with you, so going above-and-beyond in the guest experience is key for a memorable destination wedding weekend.” 

Jaclyn Watson of Jaclyn Watson Events also shares: “It is so important to keep your guests entertained throughout the day and even the weekend because you’re sharing your story with them.  Another great reason is that having the right entertainment for your guests acts as a wonderful ice breaker! It is important to remember that often weddings are the first time that all the families and friends meet each other, so making sure your guests feel like they can mingle, and have fun is crucial.” 

Image by Lynne Reznick Photography

Overlooked (and budget-friendly!) ways to elevate the guest experience 

Going all out for your family and friends doesn’t have to be extravagant or break the bank. Weddings aren’t a competition for ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s, so don’t feel pressured to go beyond what you’re comfortable spending. All they want are those extra touchpoints! 

Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss and Rock Paper Coin reminds us that custom is key. “It’s all about personalization when you think about elevating the guest experience. When they feel considered and taken care of, their experience is immediately lifted. An easy and budget-friendly way to do this is to prepare a hand-written personal note to be placed at each place setting. A little effort can go a long way!” 

“Think outside the box. The experience can be as simple as offering your favorite Pop Tarts served to guests at the after-party, to offering a good food truck at the end of the night. For my own daughter’s wedding, we had a donut truck arrive and offer hot, made-to-order donuts. It was a huge hit and very budget-friendly,” says JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli

Regardless of whether your guests are traveling or close by, their attendance is still a meaningful gesture. They want to celebrate your love, so don’t hold back on providing an unforgettable day! 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.