Every bride hopes that her dream day will go off without a hitch and that guests will have only glowing reviews after the fact. However, it can be hard to anticipate the needs of every single friend and family member when you’re planning a party for several hundred people.
We asked expert wedding planners Adriana Mazzone from Champagne Social Weddings & Events and Cynthia Martyn from Cynthia Martyn Fine Events to help us narrow down the top five wedding guest beefs and how to avoid them. Their advice? Mitigate complaints by taking friends and family into consideration when you’re making decisions surrounding your big day. “You are planning what is likely the largest party you will host during your lifetime,” says Martyn. “Put yourself in your guests’ shoes when making decisions on the wedding location, menu, bar and gifts, and make the experience comfortable and well-thought-out,” she adds.
<strong>"It Was Too Hot/Too Cold"</strong><br />
Outdoor weddings are always a gamble. It could be too hot, too cold, raining or snowing, but the show must go on. <br />
"Outdoor ceremonies are beautiful, but choose a venue that has an indoor rain backup and be prepared to use it in the case of a weather emergency," says Mazzone.<br />
Martyn recommends having a few items on hand in case of unpredictable weather. "Provide items to bundle up with or parasols or fans to cool off with," she says. <br />
Photo via <a href=http://www.studiofinch.com/"target=_blank”>Studio Finch Photography</a> from <a href=”http://rusticweddingchic.com/wisconsin-country-chic-wedding-egg-harbor”target=_blank”>Rustic Wedding Chic</a>.<br />
<strong>"We Had To Pay For Our Drinks!"</strong><br />
The open bar conundrum is one that every couple struggles with while planning a wedding. Martyn thinks cash bars should be outlawed. "If guests are taking the time to attend your wedding and bring a gift, then you should host them for dinner AND drinks," she says. <br />
"If offering an open bar is not within your budget, consider just offering wine at the tables or just domestic beers at the bar," says Mazzone. "This allows guests to have at least have one alcoholic beverage with their meal."<br />
Photo via <a href=”https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/255114512/cash-bar-sign-cash-bar-tonights-drinks?ref=market”target=_blank”>RockinChalk on Etsy</a>.
<strong>"The Food (Or Lack Thereof) Wasn't Good" </strong><br />
When you're dealing with a few hundred people there's always going to be someone that isn't thrilled by the menu selection, but actually it's the amount of food offered that usually generates more complaints.<br />
"Make sure your portions are average-size or greater to ensure guests are well-fed," says Martyn. "Guests often complain if they feel they didn’t receive enough food on their plate. You want them to avoid a stop at a local fast food restaurant on their way home!"<br />
Variety is also a key part of wedding meal-planning. "Regardless of whether your meal is served buffet-style or plated, you want to ensure that there is something that everyone will be happy to eat," says Mazzone. "I always advise couples to keep their meals pleasing to the majority of palates and then incorporate personal touches and fun food items in the late-night stations," she adds. <br />
Photo via <a href=”http://www.carinaskrobeckiblog.com/%E2%80%A2-wed-jennie-evan-%E2%80%A2/”target=_blank”>Carina Skrobecki</a> from <a href=”http://www.weddingpartyapp.com/blog/2013/12/09/laid-back-summer-bbq-wedding-farm-carina-skrobecki/”target=_blank”>Wedding Party</a>.<br />
<strong> "The Gift Registry Was Too Expensive!"</strong><br />
Asking for wedding gifts can be awkward but many guests will prefer to get you an actual present instead of giving money. When creating your registry it's important to make sure your wish list isn't filled with big ticket items. <br />
"When registering for gifts, make sure you register for items in a large variety of price points from low to high, so that guests on a limited income have options to purchase for you," says Martyn.<br />
Photo via <a href="http://www.nuediamonds.com/blog/top-must-dos-when-registering-for-wedding-gifts/"target=_blank">Nue Diamonds</a>.
<strong>"The Couple Didn't Even Acknowledge Us At The Wedding/After The Wedding"</strong><br />
Let's face it, your wedding day is going to be a whirlwind and before you know it you'll be running through a shower of confetti to your getaway car. Between the speeches and cake cutting it may slip your mind that you should log some time with every guest -- even if it's just a minute or two.<br />
Martyn says to make sure you allocate time to greet guests after your ceremony, during cocktails, host a receiving line, or go table to table during dinner to make sure you see everyone on your special day.<br />
Following your wedding day you'll want to make sure that everyone gets recognition for being there and celebrating with you. The best way to achieve this is with thank you cards send out as soon as you return from your honeymoon and have had a chance to sort through your gifts.<br />
"Guests enjoy that hand-written memo after the wedding that lets them know that you truly appreciated their gift and presence and it is a nice touch to end your special event," says Mazzone. <br />
Photo via this <a href="http://rickvandervalkphotography.com/"target=_blank”>Rick Van Der Valk Photography</a>.<br />
You’ve both just said “I do” and sealed it with a kiss. Now it’s time to take your first steps as a married couple! But, wait, what song will accompany this momentous, once-in-a-lifetime experience? The best wedding recessional songs are those that can convey the joy you’re feeling as you walk back down the aisle with your new life partner. Sweet love-themed songs are always good bets for sentimental ceremonies but if you want guests dancing in the aisle with you as you celebrate your union we recommend selecting a fun, upbeat tune that everyone knows.
In addition to the recessional songs that have become tried and true Weddingbells favourites, we wanted to know which tunes our readers recommended for this pivotal wedding moment. We asked couples from across the country to submit their top recessional tunes and the result is this eclectic mix of melodies that are sure to help end your ceremony on a high note.
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG4fdcApuK4"target=_blank">How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)</a> — James Taylor<br />
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hG4fdcApuK4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) — James Taylor
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_I4wtNPv5w"target=_blank">You Make My Dreams Come True</a> — Hall & Oates<br />
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/X_I4wtNPv5w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNOTF-znQyw"target=_blank">You Fill Up My Senses (Annie's Song)</a> — John Denver<br />
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RNOTF-znQyw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
You Fill Up My Senses (Annie's Song) — John Denver
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-JsqKlVVGk"target=_blank">Hallelujah I Love Her So</a> — Ray Charles<br />
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/v-JsqKlVVGk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds8EXxQOb84"target=_blank">All You Need Is Love (The Beatles) </a> — Aramis String Quartet<br />
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ds8EXxQOb84" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
All You Need Is Love (The Beatles) — Aramis String Quartet
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSopimVwWzg"target=_blank">Time Of My Life</a> — Bill Medley And Jennifer Warnes<br />
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DSopimVwWzg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Alexandra and Konrad first met in university. “After having met once, we kept running into one another until one day Konrad said ‘I think fate is telling us something’ and asked me out to dinner for our first date. The rest is history,” says Alexandra.
Fast forward to the couple’s big day. The pair had a traditional ceremony followed by a cocktail hour where they released doves as guests sipped Polish beer and listened to traditional Polish music played by a string quartet to pay homage to their heritage.
The couple opted for a muted palette of blush pink and gold, which complemented their vintage wedding theme perfectly. The two also found ways to work in Konrad’s love of vintage scooters as well as Alexandra’s love of lace and lanterns.
Alexandra says one of her favourite wedding memories was when she and Konrad saw each other for the first time that day. “No one can describe the emotion of seeing each other for the first time — the beauty of the moment, the beauty of each other and the awe of it finally being the day you both waited so long for,” she says.
Alexandra Urbanski and Konrad Skorupa, August 17, 2013, Kleinburg, Ontario.
Nick planned the ultimate outdoor proposal when it came time to pop the question to Emily. “Nick proposed to me at the base of a waterfall,” Emily recalls. “He lit a path with tea lights, which lead to a table and chairs surrounded by candles and rose petals. At the table were several different entrees and for dessert was a ring on a silver platter!”
The couple decided to mimic their engagement in their wedding decor. There were tea lights throughout the ceremony and reception and the featured colours were seafoam and midnight blue, which tied in the waterfall proposal. Branches, burlap accents and twinkle lights completed the woodsy wedding aesthetic.
“Our wedding day was easily the most fun that Nick and I have ever had. Friends from everywhere came to help us celebrate,” recalls Emily. “The ceremony was short and sweet — then the real party began with amazing food, wine, dancing, and friends running around in their underwear!”
Emily Kalsbeek and Nick Holfeld, May 18, 2013, Victoria, British Columbia.
Jessica and Derek’s love story didn’t start until after they graduated university, however, they had been really close friends since high school. Once they finally decided to take their relationship to the next level they were smitten. “We’re soul mates with a solid foundation built on friendship. But in the end, pretending to be just friends became exhausting! So here we are today,” laughs Jessica.
The couple’s wedding day started off with soft flurries, which set the scene for a lovely winter wedding. The bridal party took a limousine to the church and Jessica waited as patiently as she could until it was finally time to walk down the aisle. “I remember that was when I was most nervous,” Jessica explains. “It’s such a humbling and surreal experience to know that almost everyone you know and love from different aspects of your life is going to be in the same room celebrating you and your love.”
For their reception, the couple planned a black tie, winter wonderland-inspired celebration. “I always knew I wanted to incorporate Christmas into my wedding, but not in an over the top way,” explains Jessica. “I wanted lots of natural, candlelight with glitter and twinkling lights and what better time of year to do that than a month before Christmas?!”
The couple even had an ice sculpture of a tree trunk with their initials carved into it. “People kept daring me to lick it, but how great would that have looked if the bride had her tongue stuck to the ice sculpture?!” jokes Jessica.
Jessica and Derek Nardone, November 23, 2013, Maple, Ontario.
Nathalie and Luke’s paths first crossed due to a shared love of flying. “I am from Australia and grew up living on different South Pacific islands where my parents were posted for work,” explains Nathalie. “My brothers and I were all fascinated with aviation, and as soon as we were tall enough to see over an airplane dashboard, we all trained as pilots and became private pilots. My older brother decided to pursue this passion and continue on to become a commercial pilot. After months of research, he settled on a flight school in Steinbach, Manitoba. While on a vacation to visit my brother, I met a lot of flight instructors and students from his school. One of the instructors stood out to me and though we only exchanged glances the first time we saw each other, something about him gave me butterflies. A few weeks later, he asked me if I enjoyed running, because he was looking for a running buddy. Although I am not athletic, for some reason I said ‘yes’. Our running led to watching movies and going out to supper. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love. Soon, however, it was time for me to go home. Two months later he turned up at my doorstep for an extended vacation.”
Since travel had always been part of Nathalie and Luke’s lives together, it seemed only fitting that they would tie the knot abroad with a ceremony in Hawaii, halfway between Manitoba and Australia. After returning home to Manitoba, the couple celebrated with a lovely reception at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Conservatory.
The couple’s celebration was decorated in shades of blue to represent the varying hues of the ocean while airplane motifs appeared on everything from the groomsmen’s lapels to the favours and cupcakes.
Nathalie says one of her favourite moments of the day was her first dance with her husband. “Luke and I had brushed-up on our waltz steps in order to feel more comfortable at this particular moment,” she explains. “Yet when he held me in his arms, and the music started, we got lost in each other’s eyes and the words of our favourite love song.”
Nathalie and Luke, January 25, 2014, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Miquela and Joel first fell for each other in high school art class. Not long afterwards the two were separated when Miquela’s family moved to Virginia but the couple managed to keep their love alive through letters, online chats and road trips until Joel popped the question one December afternoon in 2012.
For their wedding day, the couple opted for a laid back cottage theme. “With lots of summers spent up north, cottage life is close to our hearts,” explains Miquela. “We wanted our guests to sit back, relax and enjoy our wedding day.”
The celebration began with an emotional ceremony at Emmanuel Baptist Church. “The moment I walked down the aisle was very special to both of us; Joel had uncontrollable tears, and I was gleaming with pure joy. We will never forget the beauty of that moment,” says Miquela.
The couple’s reception was decked out in coral and mint hues and cottage-chic decor. Buntings, chalkboard signs and wooden details, many of which were created by the Miquela, Joel and their familes, filled the venue. “A lot of our décor was handmade,” says Miquela. “It’s safe to say quite a bit of time went into crafting. We are very thankful for the support of our families.”
Miquela Hobbs and Joel Roeleveld, July 26, 2013, Barrie, Ontario.
Brie and Thom first met online. The two conversed over Facebook for sometime and finally decided to meet. At the time Brie was working as a nanny in Spain and Thom lived in England and even though Brie was headed back to Canada, the pair decided to pursue a long-distance relationship. Two years later Thom popped the question.
Brie and Thom’s wedding had a clear theme of burlap and lace. The bridal bouquet, the centrepieces and even the table runners featured these lovely materials. “We chose this theme because it was very elegant but still rustic at the same time,” explains Brie. “It felt special without being over the top.”
The couple’s wedding song was “You and Me (Love Story)” by Randy Newman. “Thom used to sing it to me over the phone when he lived in England and I was in Canada,” says Brie. “It is relaxed, fun, quirky and full of love — kind of like our relationship.”
Brie Franson and Thom Gidman, July 12, 2013, Kelowna, British Columbia.
Meghan and Jason are huge baseball fans so when it came to their wedding day, the two really knocked it out of the park.
“The main colour was royal blue to match the colour of our favourite team, the Toronto Blue Jays,” explains Meghan. “Our most memorable times together always involve baseball so we thought this theme was true to us, and would allow us to have a really fun, laid back day.”
The couple worked their unique baseball theme into every aspect of their wedding day, from the groom’s baseball boutonniere and the bride’s baseball pumps to the score card wedding programs and pennant flag centrepieces. The couple had a home plate at their altar and even had “let’s play ball” inscribed on their wedding rings!
Meghan says one of her favourite wedding day memories was seeing all of her bridesmaids enter the reception escorted by the Toronto Blue Jays’ mascot, Ace. “He was dancing with the girls and high-fived all the guys coming in. It was really memorable,” she recalls.
Meghan Goldie and Jason Rozon, June 1, 2013, Milton, Ontario.
Proposals don’t get much sweeter than Alexis and Shaun’s. One night when Alexis was teaching her ballet class one of her 10-year-old students walked in with a beautiful bouquet of roses for her. After this Shaun strolled in and nervously popped the question. After Alexis said “yes” over 20 of her students, friends and former students gathered around to congratulate the couple.
For their big day the couple opted for a traditional church ceremony followed by a reception at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which was decorated in gorgeous fall jewel tones. “The hall looked stunning and our guests are still talking about the food,” says Alexis. “We danced and socialized the night away with memories to last a lifetime.”
Alexis Dewhirst and Shaun Wanotch, September 28, 2013, Banff, Alberta.
Anne-Marie and Pier-Alexandre’s love story all started at a university football game. “Pier-Alexandre was sitting in front of me, next to a guy I had studied with a few years prior,” explains Anne-Marie. “He barely talked to me until I told his friend how impolite he was. Pier-Alexandre later told me he thought the guy sitting next to me was my boyfriend.”
The couple’s wedding day began with a ceremony at an ornate church followed by a reception at Entrepôts Dominion, which was outfitted with chic Chiavari chairs and gorgeous hydrangea and rose centrepieces. Clusters of white candles gave the room a romantic glow while family photos were strung in garlands along the exposed brick walls.
The divine dessert table, which Anne-Marie says was one of her favourite wedding details, was home to three delectable croquembouche towers and and array of colourful macarons.
“We had planned every detail carefully and filled our wedding with personal touches but we were still amazed by the final result, which really surprised us,” says Anne-Marie. “We also felt blessed to have all our family and friends with us on that day.”
Anne-Marie Piette and Pier-Alexandre Drouin, August 3, 2013, Montreal, Quebec.
For their wedding day, Inga and Darcy decided to go for a light and airy garden party theme, brimming with pastels and natural light. The Doctor’s House in Kleinburg, Ontario was the chosen venue for both the ceremony and reception because of its lovely pastoral setting. “This venue is unique, gorgeous and far from a banquet hall,” says Inga. “There were plenty of windows to let the sunshine and highlight all the beautiful details that the venue had to offer.”
The couple decorated their venue with baby’s breath, roses and lace for a romantic feel. “Even though the venue was gorgeous enough not to need much decoration, the flowers still brought a beautiful touch to all the photos and the décor,” says Inga.
Inga Berzinia McFarlane and Darcy McFarlane, May 31, 2014, Kleinburg, Ontario.
Michelle and Jon’s paths first crossed when they were both working for companies that shared an office building. A mutual friend and a chance meeting in an elevator lead to their first date…and the rest is history.
For their wedding day, Michelle and Jon wanted to focus on their venue’s gorgeous natural scenery and leave additional décor to a minimum.
Michelle said one of her favourite parts of the wedding was actually unplanned. “There was a slight miscommunication with our wedding officiant and she asked us to say our personal vows to each other during our ceremony, which neither of us had prepared for,” Michelle explains. “As a result, we both ad libbed our vows in front of everyone, which ended up being very sweet because they were totally from the heart.”
Not only did the couple’s Emerald Lake venue provide the perfect backdrop for their photos, it also offered a gorgeous escape for some alone time before the reception. “After we got married we took a canoe ride in the glacier fed lake together. It was a chance to soak up what happened before celebrating with our family friends,” says Michelle.
Michelle Norquay and Jon Tirmandi, Field, British Columbia.
When it came to his proposal to Shawna, Craig’s timing couldn’t have been any better. “After a long day of spring cleaning, we decided to have a romantic dinner at home,” explains Shawna. “In the middle of dinner I said I could spend the rest of my life in that house with Craig. He then pulled out an engagement ring and asked me to marry him.”
For their August wedding, the couple decided on a ceremony outdoors in Calgary’s Barker Park followed by a reception in nearby Triwood Hall, which was decked out in lovely shades of blue. “The evening was filled with laughter, heartfelt family speeches and celebration,” said Shawna.
Shawna and Craig Bayda, August 3, 2013, Calgary, Alberta.