How to Have a Gracious
(22/11/2018) | Categories:
Wedding Planning | Inclusive Wedding |
Gone are the
days when the couple’s parents, or more
specifically, the bride’s parents, hosted the
wedding. With couples marrying much older, it is
more the norm for you to make the decisions, pay
the bills, and send out invitations in your own
names, not those of your parents. In short, you
are the hosts for your own wedding.
The one thing that everyone will remember about
your wedding is not what they ate, or who said
what, or the details of the décor, but how you,
as the hosts, made them feel. So be gracious
hosts, making sure that everyone feels welcome,
appreciated, and both physically and emotionally
9 ways to make your guests
ways to make sure everyone present is
- Send informative invitations.
Give your guests a taste of what the venue is like,
where they can park, how far they need to walk, and
what sort of terrain they will need to walk over
- If asking them to bring a "plus one"
Avoid writing Plus One , or and
Guest on the invitation. Get the name of who
they will be bringing and use it.
- Don't send out last-minute invitations
This makes it obvious that there is a A and B list.
By all means stagger the invitation process, but
bring it forward a few months so those on the B list
are not made painfully aware that they are second
- Ensure that the ceremony venue is open to
welcome early arrivals.
If that’s not possible, include information
about when it will be open in the invitation
- By all means have signs (they are great for
photos), but also have living human beings,
strategically placed to welcome guests, hand out
programs (if you are having those), and indicate
where they should seat themselves.
- Instead of having the celebrant start the
ceremony by welcoming your guests, welcome them
yourselves, or, if you don’t feel up to that,
have a member of each family welcome them.
- Allow time after the ceremony for guests to
congratulate you, and to mingle a bit.
For me as a celebrant there is nothing more
indicative of how unwanted guests guests feel when I
am asked to make an announcement requesting they
hold off on congratulations until the reception
because the couple and their wedding party are
dashing off to have photos take and I watch the
guests mill aimlessly about.
- Bring back the receiving line.
Feel free to reinvent it, perhaps even reduce it to
the two of you, but be there to welcome your guests
when they arrive at the reception, rather than
having them wait to welcome you! Seriously
also consider both welcoming guests as they arrive
at the reception. There is a whole different vibe
when couples do that, and it is wonderful. It is
also a good way to settle your nerves.
- Make sure you make time to personally speak to
every single person at the wedding.
(and take time to pose for a selfie with them).
- Make sure they know what to expect.
Include information about anything out of the
ordinary, and about the logistics of the day in your
invitations. Make sure that you give them enough
information about the venue so that they can make
decisions about appropriate shoes and so on.
- Choose a ceremony venue that is accessible to
everyone you’ve invited.
And that is appropriate for the season of the year.
There is nothing worse that waiting in freezing, or
being seated in blazing sun. Guests who are
physically uncomfortable are not in the frame of
mind to immerse themselves in the emotions of your
- Choose comfortable chairs – and make sure there
is enough seating for everyone.
- Check out an outdoor ceremony venue for biting
Midges, mosquitoes, and biting ants will ruin the
- Serve water or a welcoming drink when they
arrive at the ceremony.
- Ensure that there are accessible toilets close
to the ceremony site.
- And that the signage on toilets at the
reception venue is appropriately inclusive.
ways to make your guests feel appreciated
- Have an attitude of gratitude.
- Tell your celebrant about your guests.
Who they are, where they’ve travelled from, and how
much they mean to you.
- Ask your celebrant to include an expression of
appreciation in welcoming the guests.
Request that that expression of appreciation is
- Don’t dash off immediately after the ceremony
to have photos taken.
Allow time to move amongst your guests, allowing
them to congratulate them.
- Build in time in your reception schedule to
spend time with each and every one of your guests.
You might find the most practical way to do this is
to go round table by table during the coffee and
dessert part of the meal service.
- Forget the printed “thank you” cards on the
Thanks for gifts should be personal. You can’t beat
a handwritten, personally addressed note
thanking each guest for being at your wedding
to support you and celebrate with you. It only needs
to be a line or two, and if you do a few a day in
the lead-up to the wedding, they are done in no
time. Pop into an envelope, write the person’s name
on it, and hey presto, you’ve also done your place
- Make yourselves available for individual or
small group photos with your guests.
A DIY photo background, photo frame, or photobooth
are all great ways to provide a place and a focus
ways to make your parents feel appreciated
- Have an attitude of gratitude.
- Accept that your wedding is not just about you,
the marrying couple.
It is also about two families becoming one extended
family. Celebrate that!
- Talk to your celebrant about acknowledging all
of your parents in the ceremony.
Give your celebrant some information about
life-lessons they taught you, and things you are
particularly grateful to them for.
- During the ceremony, speak directly to your
The celebrant doesn’t have to speak on your
behalf! Expressions of love and gratitude spoken by
you, have so much more meaning than those spoken on
- If you’re going to walk down the aisle, have
both parents walk you down.
- When you are ready to start your walk back up
the aisle at the end of the wedding, go first to
both sets of parents first, and then make your way
back up the aisle.
Make sure your parents know to follow the bridal
party out down the aisle, so that they are ahead of
your guests in order to ensure that they are easily
included in the first few photos, and have the
opportunity to be the first to congratulate you.
- Take time to write a longer letter, expressing
love and gratitude.
Have these letters delivered to them either the
morning of the wedding or the morning after
- Mention them graciously in speeches.
Recount a childhood memory that means a lot to you.
- Dig out all of the photos of your parents’
Choose two (one from each set of parents), copy
and send to your photographer with the request to
recreate those photos, and create a collage in your
- Have a fully-fledged photoshoot with each set
- Display their wedding photos near your guest
book or your cake.
- Use their music.
For your processional, recessional, or music
while you are signing and/or as part of your
playlist. You might need to make a medley in order
to use the choices of both sets of parents for your
processional, recessional and signing. Make
sure that you mention that these pieces were played
at your parents’ weddings in your program, or, if
you are not having a program, that your celebrant
makes mention of the music when paying tribute to
your parents. Word up the DJ too.
- Arrange for your DJ to play a song dedicated to
each set of parents.
(or other special family members), and to ask
them to be the first dancers for that song. Join
them on the dance floor after a little while.
- If your parents are divorced and not on
amicable terms take that into account.
Give them parts to play in the ceremony and/or
at the reception that do not require them to
interact or present as a couple. Make sure your
celebrant, MC, photographer, videographer, and DJ
are aware of the situation.