What’s the Most Considerate Wedding You’ve Attended?

My rough estimate is that I’ve attended around 20-25 weddings in my life (none of them my own). Many of them have been beautiful, memorable experiences. Some are by the book; others are carefully customized from start to finish by the couple.

As a guest at these weddings, I’ve enjoyed almost all of them on some level. Yes, wedding receptions aren’t really my thing (though having a date makes a big difference), but I enjoy professions of love and good food. It’s also neat to see the types of people the couple surrounds themselves with.

All of that said, this weekend I attended a wedding that I think might be the most considerately planned and executed wedding I’ve ever attended. Even though it was very much about the newlyweds, it seems like they made very specific, intentional decisions to ensure their guests had a good time, which I thought was really special:

  • Hotel shuttles. I wasn’t staying at the hotel, but for those who did, they were transported to and from the venue via shuttles so they didn’t have to worry about directions (the wedding was in rural Virginia) or limiting their alcohol intake.
  • The ceremony was only 20 minutes long. Truly, I have no judgment against long ceremonies. But I have to say it was really nice to filter out everything except the couple themselves. There was a short talk about the couple, they exchanged vows, they kissed, and we were done.
  • Drinks and appetizers during the photo gap: Photos of the couple and family were taken immediately after the ceremony. Right nearby were two open bars and servers handing out fresh appetizers. I like that this all happened in the same place.
  • The reception was at the same venue. It’s always nice when you don’t need to drive from the ceremony to the reception. This wedding was at a beautiful country event space where the reception building was a short walk from the ceremony building.
  • The wedding party (brides and bridesmaids) were introduced as a group, not individually. This was awesome. So much more efficient than introducing everyone in the wedding party.
  • Speeches had time limits. I’m not sure what the time limit was, but a few of the speech givers mentioned a time limit. Sometimes the speeches can get out of hand. 🙂
  • Bite-size desserts and an ice cream truck. I love wedding desserts, and I really have no complaints about any version of dessert that I’m served at a wedding. But it was a really nice touch to have a table set up with bite-size desserts, as it meant people could easily come and go as they pleased, eating the exact amount they wanted with one hand. And on top of that there was an ice cream truck!

I’m curious if you’ve noticed any guest-centric touches at weddings you’ve attended (or even your own wedding). I’d love to hear about them in the comments.


9 Responses to “What’s the Most Considerate Wedding You’ve Attended?”

  1. TMac says:

    I agree with you that guest care can make a big difference in the wedding experience! While we may not have lived up to the standards of the wedding discussed in this entry, here are couple of things we did that were designed for the guests: out-of-towners staying in the hotel each received in their hotel room a custom city guide I put together listing our favorite restaurants and some recommendations for things to do the weekend of the wedding (events, places to visit). Also, while the wedding party was taking photos and stopping for a beer, other guests had the option of attending an Anheuser-Busch tour we’d arranged for the downtime. In retrospect, there was a lot of moving around place-to-place in our wedding, so we could certainly have done better there. Admittedly, we ended up going with our cheapest option for a reception (those things are pricey!) without regard for proximity to the church (also not our first option).

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks Trev! I agree that those are very considerate things to do for out-of-towners, as it may be the first and only time in St. Louis for many of them.

  2. Emma says:

    I LOVE considerate elements at a wedding (or any event). One of my favorites is if dinner is earlier and the reception is pretty long, busting out late night pizza or other snacks is nice and sometimes necessary for how people are drinking 🙂

    We also provided a phone number of someone who knew the area really well and wasn’t in the wedding to be available to answer questions, give directions, etc. Few people used it but several appreciates the option, especially since it was in a rural area.

    I also love when it makes sense to offer experiences, like an excursion the next day or like TMac mentions about the brewery. And second his out of towner guide too!

    Goodies in the bathrooms – mints, floss, tampons, etc. I’ve even seen flip flops for people who’ve hit a wall with their fancy shoes and need a break. See also little paper fans if it’s hot out, sunscreen if it’s outdoors, etc.

    Providing stuff to do or care for kiddos is above and beyond but it is really nice to let parents be more present at the party.

    Also, I’m a huge nerd about this but SIGNAGE. Not having to guess where to go or where to put a gift or which door is a restroom or what have you is a really great way to make people feel taken care of.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I like the late-night snacks too! And childcare is great (the wedding I recently went to was kid-free, which was tough on some of the parents). And signage, yes! 🙂

  3. Sara says:

    Not me, man! I wanted my wedding to be as short, sweet, and cheap as possible. I would have gone to the courthouse to get married if my husband had agreed. He wanted a “real” wedding with a dress, tux, etc. I paid to fly my two best girls to Chicago (where my in-laws all live) and had the wedding and reception at a sister-in-law’s house. I had a caterer come out and make food on-site in their big kitchen.

    We didn’t register anywhere, and the invitations said “the bride and groom have been blessed with an abundance of possessions; no gifts, please.”

    Then back at home in CA a week later, we had a party at the bar where we like to play pool (no kids by default). I had a BBQ caterer come out and serve whole pig (phenomenal)and had a hosted open bar. The total for both parties, including air fare, was around $6k.

    So I kept it simple for my guests. I didn’t have a formal affair; I didn’t want gifts; I didn’t have a wedding party or attendants.

    In direct contrast, my cousin is getting married in Nov. this year. I had been looking forward to it until I got the invitation that says it’s to be held at a country club and that the invitation and black tie are required. Well, I don’t own anything black-tie-worthy, and am not feeling too compelled to try and find such an outfit. I’m irritated – these people are not that precious usually. Chances are I won’t go. Likewise, I wouldn’t attend a destination wedding. My brother is getting married in Taiwan (the girl is Taiwanese). No interest in going there or using all my vacation time and a chunk of savings.

    I suppose my comments are becoming less relevant to the topic, but I haven’t attended many weddings. Just call me Ebenezer, I guess. 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I like that style of wedding too, Sara! From the perspective of a guest, that’s much easier than most other weddings. 🙂

  4. Derian R Reuss says:

    I’ve performed 8 weddings now (and have a 9th queued up for next year). I wholeheartedly endorse a 15-20 minute ceremony.

    I’ve only heard of one person (my sister-in-law) who wishes their wedding ceremony was longer (she had a 2-minute ceremony and the Justice of the Peace was in such a rush he didn’t even wait until she made it to the front of the aisle to start). Everyone else I know seems to only have a vague recollection of what actually happened during their wedding ceremony. It’s easier for guests with kids if it’s kept short, and other adverse conditions (temperature, seating comfort, bladder issues, etc) are much less noticeable with a short ceremony.

    I’ll also note that I’ve been to 2 Catholic weddings. The first was an abbreviated version of the full wedding ceremony that took 40 minutes and it was great. The second was over 2 1/2 hours and left me questioning whether I’ll ever attend another Catholic wedding again in my life.

    Much like with Boardgames, it’s best if things don’t drag on unnecessarily.

  5. Joe Pilkus says:

    Jamey,

    A wedding I attended just a few months ago with my girlfriend was great in that it started at 10:00 a.m. in this beautiful garden setting right behind the historic hotel which catered the brunch reception. Between and among the ceremony, pictures, cocktails and apps, and the brunch, along with the dancing and other reception-related events, everything was done at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was great to spend time with friends and family AND have the rest of the day for us to go antiquing and exploring the little town in which they had the wedding.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s really intriguing, Joe! I hadn’t thought about how an earlier wedding could really open up the day for the guests.

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