Wedding Guest Tips: How to Make it Easier on Them

Read more about the 2022 wedding boom in our ongoing Year of the Wedding series.

In January, Brittany Lo, the founder and chief executive of Beautini, a bridal beauty company in Manhattan, traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a friend’s wedding. Come March, Ms. Lo will be in Jersey City, N.J., attending another friend’s wedding. And two days later, in Miami for a third. Though Ms. Lo, 30, works in the industry, the events that she has gone to are not work-related.

“I’ve been invited to 15 weddings this year,” she said. “I can only go to 10.” While Ms. Lo loves weddings, being invited to so many “can be overwhelming.”

She is not alone in this sentiment.

Some 2.5 million couples are expected to marry this year in the United States, and many others are planning second celebrations after holding scaled down weddings because of the pandemic. As a result, mailboxes are filling up with invitations, daunting people like Ms. Lo as they try to figure out how to fit everything in.

“Couples are asking a lot from their guests both socially and professionally right now,” said Maya Jain, the owner of Tyrian Purple, a consulting firm for weddings and events in Manhattan. To help ease the stress on guests, she suggests soon-to-wed couples shift their point of view. “Rather than seeing the wedding from their eyes, they need to walk the steps of their guests,” she said.

If you’re requiring guests to submit Covid test results ahead of time through a specific app, download that app and sign in as if you are a guest to ensure the user experience is seamless. If you’re hiring a shuttle service, call ahead to confirm the vehicle is stocked with hand sanitizer and that it is roomy enough for passengers to space out. You could even go so far as to take a trial ride with the company.

Ms. Jain compared such measures to a menu tasting: “The same way you’re taking time to experience the food and how it’s being prepared and presented is the same way you’re going to try these guest necessities and interactions,” she said. “The goal is making everyone as comfortable as possible.”

Here, Ms. Jain and three more experts identify points of concern for people who may be attending multiple weddings this year, and share tips for how couples can address them with guests’ convenience top of mind.

Some couples who chose to hold virtual or small in-person nuptials because of the pandemic may now be inviting the same guests to attend the larger wedding reception or party that they postponed in 2020 or 2021.

If you are asking someone to celebrate your wedding with you again, Landis Bejar, a therapist and the owner of Aisle Talk, a practice in Manhattan that specializes in helping couples overcome wedding stresses, said it is important to give them the permission to say no without the fear that their answer might damage your relationship.

She suggests couples do so by writing a letter and sharing it with all guests via a wedding website, which Ms. Bejar said is “a great tool for communication.” The letter could start with something like, “‘We hope you can celebrate with us in person, but we understand not everyone can and that times are still difficult for a number of reasons,’” she said.

Communicating in this way “shows empathy and understanding toward your guests while making them feel heard and understood,” Ms. Bejar said. “And that’s connective. Guests can prioritize their own personal needs rather than coming from a place of worry.”

If, like Ms. Lo, a guest has 10 weddings to attend this year, the money they’re going to spend on gifts is quickly going to add up.

“Most guests who are coupled spend $400 to $1,000 per gift,” said Tara Consolati, the founder of Tara Consolati Events, a wedding planning firm in Lenox, Mass.

To help lessen the burden, Ms. Consolati advised that couples make an extra effort to include lower priced items on their registry. Fancier versions of household essentials like dish towels would probably be more affordable for a guest, but still useful for newlyweds, who “will be reminded of who gave it to them” each time they use the gift, Ms. Consolati said.

Another option is to include charities on registries. “These are great because there’s financial anonymity regarding the amount a guest has contributed,” Ms. Consolati said. “It relives anxiety, takes off financial pressure and adds a feel-good statement.”

In a year when so many weddings are expected to take place, it is unavoidable that some will fall on holidays. Those that do generally result in higher costs for guests, said Jules Miller, the founder of The Revelry Cooperative, a wedding venue management and consulting firm in Brooklyn.

“Travel tends to be more costly,” she said, and hotels “are usually more expensive” around holidays, especially holiday weekends, when they often “ask for a three-night commitment rather than their standard two.”

To offset such costs, Ms. Miller recommends those planning a wedding for a holiday weekend hold it on a Thursday night, so that guests can have the option to stay for the long weekend or leave in time to still enjoy some of it on their own. “That can extend your holiday rather than compress it,” she said.

Couples who decide to go with a Thursday wedding, Ms. Miller said, should also consider a later start time: “Many couples do a 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. ceremony, which still gives you a 5 or 6 hour reception, so guests don’t feel as though they are losing a work day.”

For guests who do travel to a holiday wedding and stick around, offering a curated list of attractions or activities that they can do on their own “makes it more like a vacation and less like an obligation,” Ms. Miller said.

It is likely that no couple will share the same risk tolerance as all of their guests. For this reason, Ms. Jain said that steering guests through constantly changing Covid protocols and procedures remains an important part of hosting a wedding.

One way to efficiently communicate such details with guests is via a wedding website. “It is crucial for the couples to regularly update this with the most current rules,” she explained. “The clearer they can be in terms of sharing what is specifically expected of their guests and how to obtain those requests, the less stress and confusion it is on guests.”

Offering to send Covid tests to guests ahead of a wedding would be a nice touch, she added, as would providing a list of local testing spots, especially if travel is required. “This shows that you’ve thought about a guest’s feelings,” Ms. Jain said.

Couples should be prepared for a worst-case scenario, she said. Even if you’re getting married during a time of relaxed mask mandates, plan to have extra boxes of masks on hand, in child and adult sizes, since the guidance could always change. “It removes one more ‘to do’ item off your guest’s already full plate,” Ms. Jain said.

In choosing whether or not to go to a wedding, single guests who have been invited to several nuptials this year may decide which to attend based on if they can bring a plus one or not.

But the pandemic has made it even trickier for couples “to decide if they are comfortable having a stranger at their event,” said Michelle Norwood, the founder of Michelle Norwood Events in New Orleans.

If a plus 1 can’t be offered, Ms. Norwood said that couples “need to understand a single guest might not come, and to express that understanding to them.” In these cases, she suggests setting up a post-wedding dinner or other activity with guests who could not attend. “It says we understand, we’re not mad and want to celebrate with you.”

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