Ask a Planner Wedding Dos & Don’ts

 In Branding, Media

Hello My Lovelies

We get questions all the time about what’s proper and what’s not when hosting a wedding, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts for everyone’s reading pleasure and education. My thoughts shared are based on 20 years in the wedding business and a result of seeing (and hearing) the effects of client’s decisions (both good and bad) from a guest’s perspective. Hopefully this insight offers you an opportunity to understand the repercussions of certain decisions now rather than after when it’s too late! No need to say Hindsight is 20-20 or feel regret when you know better ahead of time.

Timing is Everything

Think about how the day will play out for both you, your wedding party, and your guests. If you are having an evening reception, try and schedule the ceremony to take place later in the day to keep the momentum going. There’s nothing more awkward and boring than having to“waste away” precious hours in the middle of the dayhanging out at a local restaurant in your finest attire while you wait for the evening festivities to commence.

And yes, I know that you will have more time for hours and hours of photos if you spread them out, but truth be told an experienced photographer paired with a proper photo plan ahead of time should allow you to keep things fun and efficient in less time. Early morning ceremonies with a lengthy gap in between is also hard on you and your wedding party as the day is already long enough without drawing it out further. Keep things tight and progressive. Good flow = Good Times!

Ceremony to Reception Trek

It’s not always possible to coordinate your ceremony location with that of your reception venue because sometimes a church or desired venue may quite simply not be in the same area of town as your preferred reception venue. Where possible try and keep it in mind so that in the event you do have control over the matter you can make the day’s commitment that much more wonderful for your guests and the overall flow of the day. On that note, hosting a ceremony in the morning/early afternoon at the same venue as the evening reception and asking guests to leave and return later in the day should be avoided if possible! This is one sure way to ruffle some feathers.

Check out How Much Does a Wedding Cost? for a solid reality check on what things cost these days.

Cocktail Hour Boredom

Super extended cocktail periods are no fun for anyone. Get the party started on a high note and keep the momentum going! Typically, an evening reception will start at 6:00pm with champagne and/or a host bar and maybe some light hors d’oeuvres. An hour is typically a good length of time for guests to arrive, get their bearings, grab a drink, and chat with a few friends before heading in to dinner. The maximum length of time should be 1.5 hours. 2 Hours is too long. In the event a cocktail period must go longer, in addition to substantial hosted food and drinks, arrange for some entertaining elements like lawn games, live entertainment, a photo booth, interactive guest book or paint stations, etc. It will at the very least allow guests to remain engaged and feeling appreciated. Our friends at Paintillio have come up with a super fun and unique way to while away the time!

Cash Bar No Nos

Weddings are no place for a cash bar. Disagree if you’d like, but if you were hosting the wedding in your home you would never dream of charging guests to pay for their own drinks or pay a cover charge and this is no different. Now, I realize that some people must invite everyone they have ever met to their wedding (and a few friends of those people just to be nice) and simply cannot pay for everyone to run amuck on your tab for 6-8 hours.

Fair enough. So… my first suggestion is to first limit the number of guests invited (big weddings are overrated) and/or limit the bar offerings (i.e. one or two specific cocktails only, 1-2 types of beer/wine, no doubles, no shooters, no top shelf, etc.). Another way to cut bar costs is to consider hosting a brunch, lunch or late-night dessert reception instead of a full dinner reception.

Ask a Planner Wedding Dos & Don’ts — Cash bars can be typical withincertain social circles and for others it’s unheard of so you need to do what’s right for you.

In any case there is always room for good manners so regardless of the need to incorporate a cash bar into the night’s line up, do right by your guests and offer some sort of drink at various points of the night. Also, IF you do choose to incorporate a cash bar option, be sure to give guests a heads up ahead of time so they know to bring money!

Some ideas for keeping bar costs manageable include flipping over to a cash bar after dinner, once you have had the opportunity to properly welcome your guests and treat them to a drink or two and a nice glass of wine with dinner. Also, it’s never okay to allow your Wedding Party to pay for their own drinks. Arrange drink tickets with the venue or an all access stamp for those designated VIP individuals. It’s the right thing to do given all the money they have invested in your day. Typically, a bridesmaid will spend anywhere from $1000-$2000.00 or more once the dress, shoes, hair, make-up, gifts, stagette, and spa treatments are factored in!

Keep Your Priorities Straight

Forgoing proper hosting etiquette so that you can have pretty chairs and charger plates is not okay. Yes, a good-looking room is very important and is one of the most fun parts of creating a wedding to remember, BUT not at the expense of your guest’s enjoyment.

What your guests will remember is a thoughtful, well hosted celebration that honours them and the occasion in the most beautiful way possible. Decadent décor and a designer gown will not be as impressive if guests must pay for their own drinks, eat rubbery chicken, and wait around idly for long periods of time. It’s all relative. Treat yours well.

Wedding Planner signing off! Until next time keep those questions coming in by emailing us at

xoxo Genève

Genève McNally Founding Planner

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