A new favorite show is Four Weddings on TLC. Here’s a quick recap in case you haven’t seen it: 4 random brides are chosen to compete against each other for a honeymoon. They attend each other’s weddings and rate them on food, dress, venue, and overall. The flaw of the show (to me) is that the competing brides do not all have the same budget…how can a $3,000 budget possibly compete with a $50,000 budget?
But I digress. My point is what you can learn from this show. And although you can certainly get some good ideas for your ceremony and reception what I really think you learn is how others will enjoy (or not) your wedding. Yes I think the brides can be a little catty when critiquing each other – but that doesn’t mean the heart of what they are saying isn’t valid.
For example: one wedding had an abundance of hors d’oeuvres – the kind you need to eat on a plate with a fork. But there were only a couple of tables! If you are serving food that requires plates and forks, then you need to provide your guests a place to sit. Otherwise, how will they eat? Have you tried balancing a drink and a plate and using a fork – all while standing? Now your guests are grumpy! If you can’t provide tables for the cocktail hour, keep that in mind when choosing your menu.
I’ve also seen them get so full on cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres that they have taken home their main course – there is no need to over feed your guests! Cocktail hour should ideally be just a couple of passed hors d’oeuvres – they are eating in an hour or so anyway. You just want to take the edge off of their hunger.
Another complaint seems to center around alcohol. Or specifically, the lack of it. If you are not serving alcohol due to religious views, that is perfectly fine and your guests know you and will likely expect it. However if you aren’t serving drinks as a way to keep your budget down I caution against it. First of all, if you want your DJ to be worth the money you spent, you need to provide your guests with some liquid courage to get up and dance. Second, consider alternatives to a full, open bar. Maybe cocktail hour drinks are open bar and then you switch to cash bar for the reception. Wine and beer are less expensive alternatives than a full, open bar, as is having a signature drink. Or see if your venue will allow you to set a cap on the tab and then move to cash bar.
And the most common complaint I have seen on this show? The cocktail hour being in too small of an area. It is miserable when everyone is elbow to elbow. Keep in mind your guest count when choosing your venue. If there isn’t a large enough area for cocktails, let them into the reception area. Your guests will be able to relax and enjoy your reception that much more.
Of course you may get design ideas from this show but I find the value really lies in seeing other people’s perspectives on the day. You can’t please all the people all the time, but picking up some of these tips may help you avoid not pleasing all the people.