Weddings are held to such a high standard because it’s supposed to be nothing short, of the best day of the bride and groom’s lives. For most couples, that is exactly how it is, and those are the memories they take away. If something did go wrong during the course of the events, our hope as wedding planners is that the bride and groom never knew about it. That we fixed it before anybody ever realized there was a problem. What’s funny is that even when nothing actually goes wrong, we still get a LOT of complaints from guests throughout the course of a wedding. They moan about everything from the food selection to the bar offerings. Even if the night went flawlessly from the perspective of the bride and groom, guests will find things to complain about. Some people are just like that. More often than not, they’re complaining about things that were selections or decisions the bride and groom consciously made. We tell our clients to choose what they want – you can’t please everybody all the time. And most guests understand that the bride and groom made choices based on their own tastes and budget. But after a few cocktails, people can be really obnoxious in sharing their opinions with the wedding staff. It’s not like we can say, “Yeah, I agree with you. The color choices were hideous,” even if that’s exactly what we’re thinking. The best we can do when someone complains because his favorite bottle of booze isn’t available on the bar is say that we’re sorry he’s unhappy but that was the bar that the bride and groom chose. You think people would get that. But they don’t. I never thought about many of these things from this perspective until I went from being a wedding guest to planning and executing a wedding. So I decided to help everybody out by creating a list of four common complaints of wedding guests, and what we (as wedding planners) wish they knew:
- The Bar: This category could be its own blog, but I’ll keep it simple and stick to talking about one issue guests complain about frequently. Some guests like the party to start sooner than planned. It’s not uncommon for guests to ask us to open up the bar pre-ceremony (especially if the ceremony is at the same location as the reception). There are good two reasons this can’t happen. For starters, the caterers and service staff are on contract. The open bar is contracted for a time frame, and a specific number of hours. Five hours of open bar means five consecutive hours. The second reason we don’t run any bar service before the ceremony (and try to keep the self-provided drinking to a minimum) is because no couple wants plastic cups and beer cans in the hands of their guests in their ceremony pictures. Plastic cups sitting in the aisle when the bride and groom recess are trashy looking. A can of beer sticks out in a formal picture like a crossing guard vest. Believe me, if the bride and groom wanted the bar open before the ceremony, they would have asked for it and paid for it in advance.
- Ceremony Seating: Because Weddings in Vieques is based on a beautiful island with some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, not many clients want to get married in a church or an inside location. Most of our couples choose to get married on the beach, or at a beachfront venue. This means we bring in all the seating for the ceremony. As you can imagine, just like any other rental item, chairs cost the bride and groom money. Based on the number of guests, and what the couple wants, a specific number of chairs are rented for the big day. Sometimes, if they’re cost-cutting, the couple orders the exact number of chairs that they expect to have people sitting in (not what we advise, by the way). And sometimes this plan doesn’t sit well with some of the guests who can’t find two seats together or don’t want to sit too close to the front. When guests complain there are no seats left, they are never correct. There are always enough chairs there. They’re just not where the guest wants them to be. Unfortunately there’s not much the planner can do in this situation if the couple ordered the exact amount of chairs and wouldn’t budge. So just shimmy your bottom into an empty seat and enjoy the ceremony!
- Reception Music: JUST DANCE! No, I’m serious though… stop complaining that your favorite song isn’t playing and just enjoy yourself. The bride and groom have made a very specific playlist for the DJ, and they’ve also got a “do not play” list on there. If the DJ says he doesn’t have the song you’re requesting, that might mean the bride and groom don’t want to hear it. A lot of fun dance songs have inappropriate lyrics for a mixed audience and considerate brides and grooms often take this into account. Go ahead and make your request, but don’t get upset if they say no. Don’t go pull it up on your phone and demand it be streamed through the DJ’s system – he won’t hook anything into his computer that isn’t his for fear of viruses and other problems. A good DJ can usually read the crowd and has done this a thousand times, so if he’s not playing “your style” of music, it’s probably because that’s not what the bride and groom requested. It’s their day, so ultimately you should sacrifice your pop taste for their country jams, if that’s what makes them happy!
- Food: If you’re one of those people who thinks food is the highlight of any event, and life in general, then we already have something in common! I’m right there with you, but a destination wedding is a little bit different. The kitchen is sending out more than one course, and sometimes upwards of 100 dishes at a time. To add to that, the caterers are not preparing the food in a typical environment (in most cases, they’re cooking on a beach or in a villa kitchen – not someplace with commercial stoves and miles of countertop). All the vendors we work with are the best of the best and very professional; however, if a couple does not opt to use place cards, the service staff will have to interrupt to take your order. And if you don’t remember what you ordered, we’ll have to look it up because there’s very little wiggle room in the quantities the caterer has prepared. Although our service staff is good, we don’t know every guest’s name or where they chose to sit. If service is slower than you would like, be patient and contain your “hanger” (hungry anger). Don’t complain to the bride and groom. If there are 10 tables to serve, and you are at the last table, they may well be halfway through their dinner when you get yours. As for menu options, the bride and groom make those decisions, not the wedding planners or the caterer.
This blog isn’t a judgment about the wedding guest complaints I’ve heard – it really is meant to be educational for those attending weddings. I’ll admit most of these are things I never would have considered before actually working at weddings, which is what inspired me to write about it. Being a part of a team that is responsible for giving two people the best day of their life is a lot of pressure, and it takes a toll on us listening to guests complain about choices the bride and groom made. Don’t let the minor things you dislike ruin your time at the wedding. Unless the wedding was a package deal at a big resort, they chose everything you’re experiencing themselves. A special note for destination wedding guests: You didn’t travel more than a thousand miles for a free dinner, or the open bar, or to hear your favorite song. You went to witness and celebrate your friends’ or family member’s marriage, and that’s what you’ll get. Enjoy what is, and don’t complain about what isn’t. You’ll have a better time too – I guarantee it.
Devon Gorson, Intern at Weddings in Vieques