5 Things Your Wedding Guests Wish You Knew

If you’re engaged and in the thick of wedding planning, chances are you’ve experienced some decision fatigue: between flowers, food options, vendors, and venues, the choices can quickly become overwhelming. But what if I told you that to your guests, there are only a few things that really matter? That after you drive off to your honeymoon, they’ll all be talking about the same wedding elements? And what if I told you (best of all) that these key elements are all quite simple to execute?

Happy guests = a wonderful wedding, and I’ve surveyed hundreds of them to collect the tips that follow. So sit down with your fiance, pour a glass of champagne, and pour over these 5 things your wedding guests wish you knew!

And if you’re looking for more wedding day tips and advice from real brides (and wedding guests!), be sure to follow Ask a Real Bride on Instagram!

Register for a variety of gifts

#1: Register for a variety of gifts

As wedding guests, we want to give you a gift as a symbol of our love and support. But for those of us on tight budgets, it can be challenging when the registry is filled with big-ticket items only. Even worse are messages like “Cash gifts preferred”—some traditional guests just aren’t comfortable donating to a honeymoon or house fund, and for those who can’t afford a substantial amount, a small contribution can feel like a meaningless “drop in the bucket.”

So, how can couples help? Register for gifts at a variety of price points so that everyone can find something that suits their gifting style. If you want to create a fund, offer it alongside a traditional registry, and remember–giving cash is always an option. Some guests will opt for cash even if a fund doesn’t exist!

Here’s what real wedding guests have to say:

“My cousin registered for small things, even around $10, because she respected that there were some very tight budgets! She added things like kitchen tools, decor items, and even games. It also allowed people to buy several less expensive things and make a little gift basket, which was fun!” — Sheila S.

“I spent all of my twenties as either a grad student or a non-profit employee. The idea of spending even $50 on a gift in those years, as well as flights, car rentals, and hotel, was a lot. It still is! Registering for gifts under the $50 mark is huge.” — Amy G.

“Not all of us want to give cash. Please don’t just ask for gift cards, money, or contributions to your funds. I find it odd.” –Sarah L.

To reiterate: giving cash is always an option. But asking for cash only can be very off-putting to more traditional guests. If you have any diversity in the guest list, options are most helpful!

Looking for registry checklists and tips? We’ve got you covered. Start with our ultimate wedding registry guide!

We would really appreciate a plus one

#2: We would really appreciate a plus one

How you decide to extend plus ones is totally up to you and your fiance, and guests should never ask to bring additional guests. But many single guests tell us that they’d love to receive an invitation that says, “and guest.” Here’s why it can be very meaningful:

“It’s so nice to have the option to bring someone, especially if I’m traveling, won’t know other people, or there’s dancing involved!” –Michelle R.

“I once went to a wedding where I wasn’t invited with a plus one, and I was seated at a table with all couples. I had to sit alone while everyone else was dancing. It was awful.” –Alexis R.

Many brides tell me they don’t love the idea of “random” people at their wedding, and I empathize. Yet extending a plus one is for your single guest’s benefit and can ensure they have a wonderful experience. Here’s what a real bride and wedding guest have to say:

“I would rather my guests enjoy their evening and not feel alone than spend the excess money on something extra like a champagne tower or late-night snacks.”—Courtney U.

One of my favorite weddings I ever attended was as a plus one. The beautiful and gracious bride gave me a big hug and said, ‘Thank you for being here! I’m so happy to meet you!’ I will never forget her example of hospitality and grace.” –Cecelia D.

make time to greet us

#3: Please make time to greet us

I get it–making the rounds can feel time consuming, and you’d rather be eating or dancing! But taking the time to warmly greet each guest is time well spent. Guests tell me they love having a chance to see the couple up close and say a few words of congratulations:

“Please make your best effort to greet each table individually. Guests know to keep their conversations short; we just want to congratulate you and hug you! From a guest’s standpoint, an acknowledgment of our presence is MUCH appreciated!”—Holly G.

How can you make time to do this, especially if you have a larger guest list? A few options: attend cocktail hour so you can greet some guests there; eat dinner privately during cocktail hour so you are free to greet guests while they eat dinner; seat your older guests closest to the head table/sweetheart table so you can greet them first. If you don’t make it to every other table, chances are high that you’ll see them on the dance floor!

For more reception timeline tips, head to this post!

Consider our physical comfort

#4: Consider our physical comfort

As one of my favorite wedding vendors says in this post, “Your wedding is more than a photo op–it’s an hours-long event and you want your guests to be comfortable, have fun, and enjoy themselves!” That means taking the environment and the clock into consideration:

“Please be conscious of your guests’ comfort in terms of temperature. No one enjoys being passed out from heat stroke or frozen to their seats!”—Erin F.

“Please don’t skip tents during an outdoor ceremony. I have roasted at so many, and guests are sweating before the ceremony even starts.” –Molly O.

Another natural element that can spoil a guest’s experience? Hunger!

“Feed us sooner rather than later!” — April H.

“Please schedule speeches after food is served. They always go down better if people have had something to eat—and a few glasses of wine!”—Lorna H.

“Make sure you adequately cater for food allergies and restrictions. I’ve been to a few weddings where I couldn’t eat a thing.” –Julia G.

Send thank you notes

#5: Send thank you notes!

Far from being old-fashioned, thank-you notes are a practical, time-honored way to express your appreciation and ensure your guests that you actually received their gifts. I talk about thank you notes quite frequently on Ask a Real Bride, and here are a few comments I’ve received lately:

“Sadly, I haven’t received one in years. Not only does the correspondence show gratitude, but it also confirms receipt, especially when the gift is delivered.”

“If someone took the time to give you a gift, then you can make time to write a thank you note.” –Nancy C.

For all the thank you note tips and templates to get it all done promptly, head to this post!

Time to Celebrate!

I hope today’s tips from real wedding guests help you plan a celebration that’s memorable for all the right reasons!

Have a Question for our Real Brides?

Let me know what topic you’d like us to tackle next! If you’re interested in learning more about etiquette, gift-giving, and celebrating in style, be sure to subscribe to the RegistryFinder GiveIt blog for weekly posts on wedding etiquette, bridal showers, wedding trends, and, of course, wedding registry guidelines and tips! As always, refer your guests to RegistryFinder.com, where they can conveniently locate all of your registries in one place!

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