The Wedding Guest Experience – Get me to the wedding on time
Getting married? Planning your wedding? Inviting your guests?
What will your day be like for everyone who attends? Will your guests have a fun filled, relaxing wedding that they talk about for years to come? Will you create a wonderful, joyful moment for all your beloved family and friends who have traveled to celebrate your declaration of love and commitment?
There is a lot of information out there on how to plan a wedding, on what will make you happy on your wedding day but this blog is a little bit different.
Each week, I will be looking at how guests experience a wedding journey including the big day itself. What is a wedding like for a guest? Which moments have been the best or worst for wedding guests? And what can you do to help plan a day that is a magnificent experience for each of your guests?
I’ll be sharing stories about the worst and best wedding guest experiences and giving you insights and tips about how to make your wedding one that your guests will enjoy and remember.
Get me to the wedding…
This week I’m talking about getting your guests to the wedding and how to reduce stress and chaos for both yourselves and your guests. Next week I’ll be talking about the key elements to a good wedding meal and party.
Chaos for you
So. It’s Saturday morning. Your wedding day. 10 am. You have been awake since 7 am when the first hair stylist arrived. Yourself and your bridesmaids or groomsmen are getting ready, there is so much to get right, especially for brides and their bridesmaids. In the middle of hair/makeup/dress prep and breakfast, your photographer calls looking for the opportunity to take photos of this preparation time.
In short, you are up to your eyeballs! Now, your phone rings. Missing guests. They can’t find the ceremony location on a map, they have lost their information booklet, they are wondering about parking options, can they be added to the bus that takes them from the hotel to the ceremony? Does that bus pick them up at their hotel or just the wedding hotel? Will they get the meal that they need given their dietary requirements?
Chaos for guests
You’re on your way to the ceremony. You are already, perhaps, running late and wondering how late is beyond ‘fashionably late’. Your phone rings. Your bridesmaid’s or groomsmen’s phones ring. Guests are lost. They are running late. They are going to miss the start of the ceremony. They can’t find the place. Where is it? What is the closest landmark? They’re at a totally different castle or church or hotel, are they in the wrong place? Have they gone too far?
You are a guest going to a wedding in another part of the country. You’ve never been to the location before and you book a b&b which turns out to be loud, uncomfortable and, in short, you didn’t sleep. Now you’re tired, you’ve overslept, you’re in the car and everyone is still doing their hair and makeup and fixing their ties and jackets and accessories.
You realise that if you are going to be on time for the ceremony you need to find it first time around. Time is of the essence and you can’t afford to lose your way, take the wrong road or even hesitate.
The stressed family
Another scenario. You are a couple with a young baby. You got up early. Got ready in plenty of time but between one thing and another you were slowed down by the unexpected. Your baby needed changing before leaving, your young child needed food before you left. Now you are racing to get to the ceremony from your hotel. You were going to take the bus for guests but you’ve missed it so you have to get a taxi. The driver doesn’t know where the obscure wedding ceremony location is and you are trying to calm your crying baby while searching for an exact address for the venue. Of course, the internet is not working in this rural location….
You arrive at the church where the wedding is happening, only to find out that there is limited parking. Guests are asked to park in a nearby car park and walk. The problem is that you haven’t brought flat shoes and walking from the car park to the church will take you a painful thirty minutes consisting of a slow, uphill crawl in ridiculously high heels. To make matters worse, it’s raining, windy and cold. And since you were driving, you didn’t bring an umbrella or coat.
Information is Key
The key is information, providing your guests with the relevant details in a way that is available to them. There are two points here, how to give information to your guests and what information you will need to share with them.
First of all, let’s look at how the guests receive information on your wedding day. Timing is important. It’s good for guests to receive the information in advance but make sure that they have access to it on the day as well. You could do this by providing information as a printed out sheet of paper included with your invitation and also as an email or electronic document which guests can share.
It’s important that guests have a backup to paper which can easily be lost. It’s also important that this information is available offline as internet connectivity varies from place to place.
Be Our Guest – For Wedding Guest Information
Just a quick mention, our product ‘Be Our Guest’ provides your guests with venue and event details on their phones most of which is available offline (all the details except the map location is accessible offline).
What is the Important Information for your Guests?
The next point is what information to share with your guests. This involves putting yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t know anything about your wedding venues or, perhaps, the location itself. It means considering guests who will be driving and using public transport or walking to each venue.
The first piece of information is simple – the name, purpose and address of each venue. Next you will need the details and time of the event taking place at this venue. For example, your ceremony start time and the location of the ceremony venue.
The next piece of information should be around how to get to the venue e.g. local landmarks or information on the journey itself (e.g. one way roads, pedestrian access only). This can help with remote or rural venues.
It’s also really useful to show your venue on a map for guests. A map is, by far, the easiest way to find your venue.
Once you have clearly indicated the location of your ceremony venue, the time and how to get there, the next part is around parking and public transport options.
How do I get to your venue?
For parking, please let guests know if there will be ample parking or if it is limited. In the latter case, provide alternatives or encourage car pooling. If parking must be paid, explain this to your guests as well as information on how to arrange the parking payment. You don’t want any guests to be clamped on your big day!
For public transport, please let guests know the best buses, trains and trams to get as well as details on how to get to your venue from the nearest stop. It would be good to indicate how far the walk is, whether the ground is rough or smooth and whether it is an incline.
If you are providing your own shared transport e.g. a wedding guest bus, give details on how to sign up for this, on the pickup points and times and when, approximately, the shared transport will arrive at the venue.
From the Ceremony to Reception
The next part is the journey from the ceremony to the reception. If the reception is at a different location, please add the same information listed above for that location.
Also, let guests know in time how long it will take to get from the ceremony to the reception and what is the best route to take.
Shared Transport for Guests
There are benefits to providing shared transport. It can be a better value alternative to taxis for guests who are not driving. The shared bus experience can be a lot of fun for guests and really builds up the wedding experience for them. It’s a great opportunity for your guests to catch up before the ceremony.
It’s also a greener option, less cars means less pollution. This is particularly the case when there is a long journey between venues.
If parking is limited at your venue or venues, this also provides a useful solution.
Chances are that many of your guests will be partaking in alcohol at your wedding. It’s a good idea to provide a list of taxi services that will be able to collect your guests. It’s important to list taxis that are bookable in advance but also services that can be ordered on the night.
So, this week I talked about getting to the ceremony and reception venues. Next time I’ll be focusing on the wedding meal experience.
By Laura Cavanagh