If you are knee- (or even ankle) deep in wedding planning, you’ve read plenty of articles about how to have the “best” or “most beautiful” wedding. This is not one of those articles. Today I am going to share with you how to have a really terrible wedding. One that your guests will talk about for years – for all the wrong reasons. One that will end up in a Buzz Feed article about disastrous nuptials. Oh yes – we do specialize in creating and hosting dreamy Vermont barn weddings. But through our many years of wedding and event planning experiences, we have seen some real disasters – most of which are (sorry to say) self-inflicted. Here is our advice for How to Have a Really Terrible Wedding – Part 1.
10. Choose a Complicated or Unpredictable Menu for Dinner
tl;dr – Never let your guests go hungry. You have guests who have been with you through the ceremony and cocktail hour, your big entrance, maybe the first dance, the unfortunate speech by the best man … they are hungry. And potentially a bit tipsy. Dinner hour arrives, and suddenly the caterer tells you that dinner will be ready in “30 minutes.” Then 45. Then one hour. You are going to have a riot of dinner-deprived hangry guests on your hands – and it can get ugly. Be sure to work with the caterer and the planner to avert this predicament: don’t go “all or nothing” (aka a pig roast with no “additions”); avoid things that must be cooked “à la minute;” use a caterer who has experience with crowds your size. The moral of this story is: never let your guests go hungry no matter what is on the menu.
9. Forget the Seating Chart
tl;dr – Avoid a “Lord of the Flies” incident at your reception by assigning seats. Figuring out the seating chart sucks. There is no getting around that, and we tell all of our couples that the invitation list and seating chart are the hardest thing they will do – and the two things we can’t really help with. Everyone wants to be close to you, and more experienced wedding guests know that their place in the buffet line is assigned via table numbers. So your beloved grandparents, who couldn’t throw an elbow like your second cousin, end up at the very back table. Your divorced parents end up at the same table. The Hatfields and McCoys are knee-to-knee at a ten top. Just suck it up and assign seats, don’t leave it to chance. Everyone will be happier when they know exactly where to go and what to do.
8. Let Out Your Inner ‘Zilla
tl;dr – Suck it up, buttercup. This day is about more than just you. We have definitely seen our share of bridezillas, groomzillas, father-of-the-bridezillas – you name it, someone is going to be a jerk at your wedding. Emotions are running high, and people who generally avoid each other are forced to be in the same space (remember #9). Don’t add to the drama. Like it or not, this day is not only about you. Two families are joining together. Parents and grandparents are proud of how you’ve turned out, and (rightly or not) want to take some credit. Do you really want to be remembered for the fit you threw because the flowers were blush and not bashful? I’m pretty sure that ranting at the caterer because they had to substitute arugula for baby kale in the mixed-green salad will not make for a pleasant wedding memory. Things happen. Trust your team – they are working hard to make your day as perfect as it can be. They can’t control the weather, the growing season of greens, or the behavior of your cousin’s kids. Yes, it’s your day. Don’t be a jerk.
7. Hire Your Brother’s Friend’s Cousin who Sorta DJ’d a Kegger in College
tl;dr – For the love of everything good about weddings, use a music professional. The only truly “bad” weddings I have witnessed all have one thing in common: a bad DJ. “We’ll just make a playlist,” or “I don’t want the DJ to play [insert overused wedding song here],” or “DJs are expensive.” We hear those objections all the time. A DJ doesn’t just play music. He/she is in charge of making announcements, of encouraging the crowd to have fun, and (most importantly) ensuring that the mood and flow of your reception is upbeat and reflects your tastes and personality. Music is highly impactful. A professional DJ will be happy to work with you on songs that you definitely do, or definitely don’t want on the playlist. They can read the crowd and adjust the music or volume to match their energy. All of the above goes for bands, too. If you are at an event and love the music, get a card. Ask for references. Don’t skimp on the music – it’s important.
6. Ignore Your Wedding Planner’s Advice
tl;dr – Your wedding planner has seen it all, trust them to make things right. Whether your wedding venue has an in-house planner (like we do), or you hire an independent coordinator (which is cool, too) – listen to their advice. In-house planners know the venue inside and out, and can guide you as you create (and stick to) your timeline (see #5), plus help choose decor and activities that work with the space. They will also work with your caterer and other vendors (trust me, they know which ones are dependable and which are – not), run interference with problematic guests, find safety pins at the last second, smooth over hurt feelings: generally – they are your advocate and will make sure any problems that arise are taken care of quickly, quietly, and before you even know they happened. And yes, she will tell you that the photo of the groom and his party “relieving themselves” in the woods is NOT a good idea. Be open to advice from the pros – they know what they are talking about.
5. Keep Your Guests Waiting
tl;dr – Your guests came to celebrate with you – don’t make them wait hours to do it. We’ve all heard horror stories about ceremonies that started an hour late, or dinner being delayed while the wedding party takes 10,001 pictures. Be considerate. And while I’m on the topic, ask that anyone doing a toast or giving a speech to keep it brief. Not in a “zilla” I-have-to-approve-your-speech-in-advance-and-possibly-rewrite-it kind of way, but with a gentle “We love you, but we are asking you to keep it brief because everyone will be ready to eat.” Think back on all of the wedding speeches you’ve been subjected to. Don’t perpetuate the madness. This is where a timeline and wedding coordinator will be your best friends – if you set aside 30 minutes for family photos, work with the photographer to stick to it. 15 minutes for speeches? The DJ and wedding planner can keep things moving along. Make a timeline and stick to it – you AND your guests will be happy you did.
Part 2 coming soon!
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