When Joe and I sat down and nutted out what kind of wedding we wanted, we both agreed that we wanted it to be a blast for our guests. A big party, great food, drinks, dancing, fun. We didn't want our guests waiting around or being bored. Call us crazy, but we wanted it to be as much about them as it was about us.
1. Favours don't have to cost a bomb, and can have more meaning for your guests.
We were on a budget, and I needed to come up with a wedding favour! All my initial ideas seemed to end up costing a bomb - when you multiply everything by 90 people it ends up being very expensive!
I realised that time was something I had on my side (still having a few months until the wedding at this point) and so I set about writing an individual and personalised thank you note for every single guest. How much more heartfelt can you get than that? I matched it with a funny photo of them or us from the past at their place setting and the envelope for the thank you card doubled as a place card. They certainly all knew how much it it meant to me that they were there, and that's what counts!
2. Make food, drink and your guest's enjoyment the priority
You may notice the extra $100 worth of baby's breath in your bridesmaids posies, or the expensive gifts for the wedding party, but your guests won't. Where ever you can, save cash on superficial elements like decor and prioritise the catering and services for your guests.
Hire a professional MC to entertain and delight guests while not making awkward jokes that no one understands
Buy the extra drinks package that will go the distance between the ceremony and reception. Mmmm... Pimms and Peroni... - they won't thank you enough!
Provide "dancing shoes" for those girls with sore feet
3. Have your professional photos taken before the ceremony
This was the best decision we ever made! There are so many benefits to turn the traditional order on it's head, that we can't believe everyone doesn't do it! Here are a few...
The "reveal" (when the groom sees his bride for the first time) can be at a romantic location of your choice making it infinitely more intimate, romantic and personal.
It takes all the pressure off seeing each other at the altar - you've both already had a giggle together back at the photos, so now you can just have fun marrying the love of your life!
Your guests are not waiting around between the ceremony and reception. You can all go and get the party started straight off the bat - no awkward waiting around and finding something to do in between.
4. Break the ice!
While writing my thank you notes, I found myself drawing similarities or common ground between guests who otherwise didn't know each other. I naturally kept this in mind while organising the seating plan, but I didn't want to stop there! I pictured myself sitting at each table and introducing each person in an individual way - and used that to come up with a set of personalised ice-breakers on each table. Here's a couple of examples:
Troy enjoys a ridiculously active life and has competed in everything from Tough Bloke Challenges to marathons - Ryan also enjoys similar things, including triathlon and cycling.
Jen travelled to Canada with the groom for their snowboarding holiday when they were younger. The worked in Kamloops – only a couple of hours drive from Summerland, BC, which is Lia’s hometown. Lia will be the perfect bridge for the gap between the skiers and the boarders...
She’s such a pro - she does both.
Steph is a speech pathologist and works at the Austin Hospital. Jen is a music therapist and also works for the Austin! Jen has just returned from the UK where she spoke at a conference – but she doesn’t just fly high, as Jen is also known to organise and facilitate choirs for the disadvantaged and homeless here in Melbourne. What a star.
5. Rethink the wedding cake
Of all the traditions and photo opportunities that happen at weddings, the cake was something I really wanted to flip on it's head. It's always a self-indulgent and boring moment for guests to watch while you take a million photos with the knife and making the cut. The cake itself is often dry and disappointing due to the mammoth number of mouths it needs to feed. And, what's more, they're EXPENSIVE. Here's what we did:
I went to the deliciously decadent Brunetti's in Melbourne - easily some of the best cakes in town and always well priced for their quality and size. I picked out eleven cakes for eleven tables, each different delicious flavours, from their existing ready-made range. I even had the opportunity to personalise a couple of plaques. For instance, one family friend had her 60th birthday on that same day, so on the one for her table I had "Happy 60th Birthday, Sue". And another friend had just completed her Masters degree that week so her table's cake had "Congratulations on your Masters, Taegen!".
But wait there's more! When it was time for us to cut our cake (another simple Brunetti's cake), our MC asked each table a question about the couple, and whoever answered correctly was able to stand up (with their spouses/partners too if they liked!) and we all cut the cakes together. Everyone was encouraged to try the cakes on the other tables and what a hoot! Everyone was running around swapping entire cake stands and having a ball.”
Think in advance!
Everything is achievable if you make a list of the things you'd like to do ahead of time. Write a couple of thank you notes each evening, make notes for ice-breakers as you think of them. And remember - make it FUN! This should be the party of your life. Enjoy every minute xxx
Want to read more about our wedding?
Head to our featured article in Polka Dot Bride.