What guests appreciate! By Molly, intern 2015

When thinking back to weddings I have attended or worked on, there have been a few touches that routinely made the guest experience more enjoyable. Below are a few things I suggest you consider when planning your wedding, especially if its a weekend-away wedding, which is the case for many of Ashley Douglass Events weddings. Welcome bags Welcome bags can include any number of items and are always a nice way to introduce your guests to a new area and provide them with all the information they need regarding the wedding timeline and festivities.  The beauty of these is that you can spend as much or as little as you would like but no matter what, include an itinerary.

Photo booth A photo booth is always a fun option for guests! Photobooths don't need to be juvenile these days either. They don't have to include cheesy props - you can stick with props that are relevant to the couple. If placed in the right nook they can get people of all ages in front of the camera smiling. They are also a take-away. Another popular way to use the photos is having guests attach them to a guest book and have some fun writing notes around the photos. There are many photos booths out there that are not all that costly! Make sure you vet your photo booth person and speak with them on the phone. You want them to be ‘into weddings’, polished and friendly, as oppose to someone that is just trying to desperately make extra change on the weekend.

Late night snacks If you have a group who want to go all night, a late night snack is a good investment. With all of the dancing, drinking and all around partying, your guests are going to work up an appetite, or a salt craving, and as you can imagine, it helps to soak up some of their adult beverages. Many late night snacks are passed on the dance floor, which is a cool surprise. We do suggest that the late night snacks are presented at a suitable time. Maybe at the start of the after party or a good 60 or 90 minutes after cake has been served, so that the evening doesn't feel like an endless brigade of food and so that people actually have room in their stomachs to enjoy!

Restroom kits Remember to place a few needed essentials into the restroom, especially for the ladies.   Items to include may be mouthwash, hair ties/bands, Band-Aids, Advil, tampons, mints, sugarless gum, stain removed stick, sewing kit and this is not to be the same sewing kits the bridesmaid and bride have on hand for their own needs, etc.

Splurge on overtime A lot of venues or vendors have a set amount of hours they will serve you and your guests, but it is possible to pay a little extra to extend those hours. Having a party end a little too soon can be a real downer. Its something to put towards your budget from the get-go for those venues that typically only contract four or five hour receptions.

Bruce Plotkin Photography @2014
Bruce Plotkin Photography @2014

Dancing Shoes The women at your wedding will definitely appreciate some kind of dancing shoe alternative. In fact, many people expect flip flops and this influences them initially wearing extravagant heels! A simple basket with $1 specials can do!

Transportation Providing buses or other types of transportation for your guests will allow guests to sit back and be in vacation mode. Also this will help you sleep better at night knowing your guests will get back to their hotels safely.

Seating We really do not recommend having the absolute maximum number of people sat at each table, especially if you are having chargers down on the tables. There really is not enough room or chargers, flowers candles, etc. We greatly prefer that you don't have bread and butter plates, nor dessert flatware down on the table at the start. Its very old fashioned ballroom hotel to have the dessert flatware down. If your tables are at their maximum capacity, these two items are overkill on spacing. Additionally, we usually are not in favor of gifts/favors being preset on each seating position. You are asking staff to be diligent in keeping the tables cleaned at the start of ribbons and wrapping, right when they are focused on getting the orders into the kitchen, wine poured, etc. Each wedding is different in all of these regards, but these are details to think over.

Drinks Guests will appreciate having a few drinks to choose from. This does not necessarily mean having to have a specialty cocktail or two, although those are fun, but it does mean going for more than the most economical drink package. There are some venues that offer just one red and one white, and this really isn’t a great option for guests. Additionally, many venues won’t automatically have a bubbly behind the bar without an up-charge. Having a bubbly, two white and two red is really the absolute minimum you should have behind a bar and sometimes you can negotiate things on this front, a little more here for a little less there…or bringing in one of the wine selections yourselves.

Cuisine People are more adventurous eaters these days. If you have a good assortment of selections across the whole event, you should not feel such pressure to pick the two safest entrees on the menu. In fact, when many people sit down to a wedding in particular, especially when at a venue, they are secretly thinking, ‘time for our bland chicken or overcooked salmon’. Give them a menu they want to read and a meal they are excited to arrive at the table. If people are very food conservative, there is always the silent vegetarian option and hopefully there was a ton of great appetizers passed earlier! Dinner is more than a meal, it is part of the event experience!