You’ll hear me talk about guest experience a lot — because it’s that important! As a Philadelphia wedding photographer, I’ve seen my share of unique ideas that make them stand out from others. From small gestures to large scale creations, there are a number of ways to go above and beyond with elevating your guest experience.
Here are a few of my favorite things to consider for giving your guests a night to remember:
When most of your guests are coming from out of town, a themed welcome party can be the perfect precursor to the big day. The beauty of it (no matter your wedding style and plans), is that it can be treated as its own event entirely. Think about the things you love to do together or eat when choosing the theme for the night. Bonus points if your theme ties in your destination. Be sure to communicate the dress code, include special decor, and set the scene for a night that welcomes your guests to the festivities. They’ll be glad to spend more time with each other (especially if they’ve traveled a distance), and will be even more excited for everything to come the following day!
Depending on the style ceremony you’re having, this can be a great (and easy!) way to elevate your guest experience. Wedding ceremonies can sometimes feel a little awkward or disconnected when there’s no relationship with the person marrying you. Having someone you both know and love brings a special kind of energy to the ceremony — it keeps guests more engaged and helps them to feel connected to this big part of your day. Pennsylvania is a self-uniting state. That means anyone can marry you! (For more information, visit Philly Mag.)
Performance artists of all kinds have become a big means of creating a unique ambiance and experience at weddings. The sky is the limit with this category, and this is one way to really wow guests with something that stands out from other weddings they’ve attended. From jazz bands to aerialists and dancers, these artists can be used to amplify the environment you’d like leading into the dance portion of the evening.
This may sound like an easy one, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. Your guests rely on clear, easy to find and read escort cards to guide them to the right table for dinner (if doing a sit-down dinner). Your planner will work through the best placement so that they aren’t missed as guests enter the space, meaning happy guests that aren’t confused by what should be a rather simple item. Not only should escort cards be clear and easy to find, but I love when they are a part of the decor! Consider an interactive art installation of sorts — something that ties in the overall theme of the wedding. Consider your florals, prints from your stationery suite, and the overall theme of your space.
Think mixologists and special food tasting stations. Use the theme of the wedding and items you love as inspiration for this one! You’ll notice that “interactive” items are a theme on this list — and for a good reason! Cocktail Hour and your late-night snack selection tie in perfectly here. Maybe your new husband loves cigars — consider a cigar bar. Maybe you’re an artist — what about a caricature station? The options are endless.
Particularly at destinations or with many guests coming from out of town, the after-party is now officially part of the wedding night. While the impromptu hotel bar gathering may be a tempting option, consider finding another space that you can continue the celebration with guests. Include more entertainment, drink options, and maybe even another interactive element. Wedding days go by so quickly, and this is one easy way to extend the time you have with everything you love in one place.
Even with the best of intentions, so many favors are left behind at weddings. Guests oftentimes miss the table they’re set out on, or forget to go back to their seat to grab theirs after a fun night of dancing. Instead of investing in something that guests are likely to leave behind or not use, splurge a little more on welcome items at the hotel check-in, or make it an edible item that they can snack on later (like handmade chocolates or custom decorated cookies). Better yet, arrange for those late-night edible items to be delivered to guest rooms while they’re at the reception. They’ll be surprised and touched by the gesture when they return to their rooms, and there will be less waste than forgotten favors back at the venue. (Need some ideas? Check out this Martha Stewart article.)
For more wedding planning tips, explore the Wedding Tips section of the blog!