When my husband and I were planning their wedding a few years ago, we had one major goal: to make all of our guests feel included and connected at our destination wedding. And it turns out that when guests feel happy and included, they have more fun and think your wedding rocks!
Here are five of my favorite ways to make your guests feel like VIPs who are all part of your insider community – and get them talking, laughing, and rocking the dance floor together!
1. Curate Travel Connections: Chances are, some of your guests will be traveling to your wedding from the same place. Or maybe some guests are flying or taking the bus in, and might not have a car to get from the venue to the reception. Take 20 minutes a week before your wedding to quickly connect people who can carpool or ride together: for example, maybe all of your girlfriends are taking the train to your wedding destination, but don’t know each other. Connect them via email, and they can meet up on the train — and be fast friends by the time they get to your wedding. Or if a group of people are arriving at the airport together, give them the chance to catch a cab together!
2. Appoint Guest Ambassadors: You’ll likely have some guests who don’t know anyone else, like your boss or a friend from grad school. Quietly ask another guest – ideally, someone who knows lots of people at your wedding, like your aunt – to be their “ambassador” at the wedding, to make sure your lone guest is introduced to people they’ll like and that they have someone to talk to. Chances are, your ambassadors will feel honored, and this way all guests will feel easily included in your larger group.
3. Create a Who’s Who Guide: Guesterly is a website that makes it fast and easy to curate a "who’s who" flipbook (filled with names, pictures, and fun facts about your guests – like how you know them, where they live, and what makes them amazing), but you can also create a list on your website or DIY your own version! Or create a master “family tree” poster for your reception entrance, or buttons with names and each person’s connection to the couple.
4. Creatively Spark Conversation: Plant easy ways to start conversation throughout your reception. Sometimes, people just need a spark or reason to go ahead and talk about something interesting! We love drink tickets or table numbers with fun get-to-know-you questions (you can get free downloadable ones online), or get your DJ or bartenders involved and have them sprinkle in questions or challenges throughout the night.
5. Make it a Game: Nothing connects people like a little competitive spirit, so add some friendly team competition to your wedding! Put people in teams for games like creative takes on trivia (this is especially nice as guests queue up for a dinner buffet line, or at a welcome party), scavenger hunts, or bingo, or even host more active games throughout the wedding weekend. We’ve seen capture the flag, relay races, and a rousing game of beachside red rover!
Opening photo by Next Exit Photography