8 Tips to Gather the Attention of Stubborn Wedding Guests

Every wedding has a few stubborn guests. They’re the ones who refuse to RSVP despite receiving save the dates and a wedding invitation. They’re also the ones who tend to talk through toasts or arrive late to the ceremony

Sometimes wedding guests are tricky to manage, but there are ways to help them act appropriately. So if you have a few stubborn guests attending your wedding, read on for 8 tips to gather the attention of even the most stubborn wedding guests.

1. Make Sure Your Wedding Invitations Include All Information 

Retaining a guest‘s attention starts with the invitation. Your wedding invite should clearly state all the necessary information, like time, wedding venue, reception location, and when to RSVP. It should also clearly give the link to your wedding website

Make sure the font’s not too small or hard to read. Curly, scripted fonts are pretty, but they’re sometimes illegible. Though it’s traditional, including your parents‘ names can sometimes be confusing to invitees. Be sure to make it clear who’s getting married, so guests don’t simply set the invitation aside. 

Regardless of how clear your invite is, it can be challenging to get certain guests to RSVP on time, and you may have to track a few down. Make it easier on yourself by allowing them to RSVP with an online option rather than mailing back a card. You can also gently let them know that a late RSVP means they may not get a meal choice. 

2. Keep the Ceremony to the Point

If you’re having a religious or traditional ceremony, there may be nothing you can do about its length. However, ceremonies are the first place that you can easily lose a guest‘s attention. If you’re going the non-traditional or secular route, consider making your ceremony short. 

Don’t shorten the vows or any of the important stuff, of course. But, ask yourself honestly, do you need your cousin to read that John Donne poem? Does your teenage nephew really need to share his rendition of Bach’s Cello Suite No.1? Sure, he’s super talented, but is that really what guests are there to see? 

Of course not! Guests are there to see you get married! Try and remember that and stick to the point. Limit the special readings or recital pieces to no more than a few minutes tops. 

If family or friends are offended by this, kindly explain that you’re trying to keep your ceremony in a twenty-minute time frame. If they push back against that, offer to include your cousin, nephew, niece, or friend in some other way. There’s no limit to how many ushers you need! 

3. Cocktail Hour Should Be an Hour (Or Less)

Though first looks are popular, lots of couples still choose to forgo it. They want that magic moment when the bride walks down the aisle to be the first time she’s seen by outside eyes. There’s nothing wrong with that, except it means that pictures come after the wedding ceremony

Most of the time, a venue will offer a cocktail hour so wedding parties can take pictures in peace while guests are entertained. Unfortunately, photographers aren’t always the best at keeping track of time. They want to get the best shots and depending on the size of your wedding party, that can take more than 60 minutes. 

In other words, your cocktail “hour” becomes an hour and a half or more. When that happens, guests have no choice but to frequent the bar. You might be thinking that’s a good thing. After all, at least they’re entertained! But be warned, intoxicated guests will be more impatient during the rest of the wedding and can even become disruptive. 

Aim to keep the cocktail hour short, a true hour or less. To ensure this happens, pick a photographer who already knows the venue and won’t waste time seeking a perfect picture spot. Alternatively, you can schedule a time for your photographer to tour the venue in advance.

If you have a large wedding party, make a list of the pictures you want before the big day. Give it to the photographer or their assistant beforehand and ask if an hour is a reasonable amount of time. If it’s not, consider other options, like taking certain pictures beforehand or hiring two photographers. 

4. Give Toasts a Time Limit

Everyone’s been to a wedding where at least one toast dragged on and on. Maybe the best man was nervous and started to ramble, or perhaps a bridesmaid started to cry. These moments can be touching, but they can also cause your guests’ attention to drift. 

Let anyone toasting know that they have 3-4 minutes to make their speech. You should also give your DJ or MC a list of who’s toasting in advance. That way, when your crazy Uncle Rich decides he suddenly wants to make a speech, he won’t be able to grab a mic without your permission. 

5. Hire a Good MC

While we’re talking about MCs, it’s important to note that a good one matters. Having an MC at your wedding may seem extravagant, but it can do a lot to keep guests entertained, especially if you run into any unforeseen delays. 

Most couples use their DJ, and many DJs are great MCs, but that’s not universal. It’s important to ask your DJ before the big day about his MC capabilities. If they aren’t comfortable with being a master of ceremonies, maybe there’s someone else they can recommend. A friend or family member can also step in. 

If you’re going to allow a friend or relative to run the show, though, be sure to go over your expectations thoroughly. The last thing you want is to sit there cringing as they tell an embarrassing story

6. Close the Bar at Key Points

Whether or not you’re hosting the bar, it’s a good idea to close it at key points. For example, many couples choose to close it during dinner, special dances, and toasts. The reason for this is simple: it keeps people at their tables paying attention rather than standing in line. 

If you’re worried about people having drinks, consider serving wine with dinner and offering a champagne toast. If closing the bar is too harsh, consider narrowing the selection of drinks or paying for an extra bartender. That will keep the bar line moving which means people spend more time paying attention.  

7. Shorten Songs for Special Dances

Special dances, like the traditional father-daughter and mother-son dance, are important to many couples. They give you a special moment to share with your family on a very special day. They’re also great photo opportunities. 

However, typical song lengths are three to five minutes. That may not seem like a long time, but trust us, it is! Not only is it long for the couple dancing, but it’s also a long time for your guests. Unless you’ve prepared with ballroom dance lessons or a choreographed number, they’re stuck watching you sway back and forth. It’s sweet for a second, but the sweetness quickly wears off. 

It’s a good idea to ask your DJ or band to shorten the songs. Keep them to ninety seconds or less. You could also build in some form of choreographed entertainment that gets them involved. You could start a conga line or have the DJ open the dance floor to other couples in the middle of the song

8. Cut Cake at the Right Time

When it comes to cake cutting, there are a few things to consider. If you want guests to watch you cut the cake, it’s essential to do it early on. Many couples choose to do it as soon as dinner is done while guests are still in their seats. Doing it after the dance floor is open means fewer people will be watching. 

However, cutting the cake also sends a signal that the night’s events are through. So, you may see guests start to leave as soon as you cut a slice. That’s why some couples choose to wait until later in the night. 

If you wait to cut the cake and want your guests to watch, ask the DJ to announce it and consider closing the bar.

Final Thoughts 

Stubborn wedding guests can turn into significant disruptions if not handled correctly. Late RSVPs are stressful, and no one wants a guest walking into the ceremony as you’re saying your “I do’s.” Worse still is a guest that interrupts your wedding toasts! 

Luckily, there are ways to manage even the most stubborn of guests. A straightforward wedding invitation can get rid of their excuses, and little tricks like closing the bar at critical points can keep their focus. 

In the end, some guests will be more polite than others, but with the suggestions above in hand, you’ll negate the worst of stubborn guest behavior, so you can have the wedding you planned!  

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