Photo: Verge Photography
There's a good chance you will need your guests to move. It makes for a great event if done correctly.
Even if your ceremony and reception are at the same location, you will need to alert your guests which way to go from the parking lot, where to place all those gifts, what to expect in the ceremony, where to go after you're wed to toast your nuptials, where to sit and when they're allowed to eat all that fantastic food!
It's best not to leave this to the imagination as wedding guests will take matters into their own hands. (I've seen it happen) Fear not, and leave the megaphone at home...
Before-Save the Date- Your first 'sign' to your guests. When you're worried they might have other plans and don't have enough details for your formal invite- a Save The Date Card is perfect. It can be informal and simple.
Invite- This sets the tone for your wedding. If you're planning an upscale event, your invite better look it. Want people to plan for a relaxed outdoor grassy event? Word it so they'll leave their heels and cocktail dresses at home. (Watch for our upcoming article on invite wording.)
Arrivals-Hotel Guests- If you have some guests who will be staying at a hotel when they come to celebrate, it's nice to have a printed weekend itinerary ready for them. (include some important phone numbers and address' too.) A easy to carry 1/4 sheet card of your favorite restaurants, ice cream shops and watering holes is also a plus so that they can grab something without guessing.
Wedding Drive & Parking- If the route is confusing or has a tricky turn, then a well placed sign or balloon will make your guests day so much better. If there are parking options then leave a well placed sign to make it obvious where to go.
The Big Event-Ceremony-
Signs of where you'd like guests to sit, sides? where not to sit, 'reserved for family' and even a drink sign and a galvanized bin of cold water are very helpful to expectant celebrators.
Do you want your guests to stay seated after the event? Remain in the ceremony area? Move to another area? You may have your officiant announce this at the end or/and have a sign where guests can easily see upon arrival, what you wish for them to do after.
Reception & Special Thoughts-
Seating Charts- If you'd like your guests to sit somewhere specific then make an easy to read chart at the entrance to your reception. (Where on earth could you get advice about that?) If you're not bothered where they sit, then a cute sign saying so would be a welcome assurance for them to pick their favorite spot.
Photo Booths, Guest Books and Other Fun Ideas- If you've planned something special for your guests then place it somewhere your guests will see and leave a sign to encourage them to partake.
Food- If you have a buffet then it's nice for guests to know whether they should help themselves, wait until the prayer, or wait until they are dismissed by the caterers to chow down. (Remember, if you're asking your guests to wait to eat the meal a long time, you should have snacks and water and drinks to tide them over. They likely have not eaten in a while as they've been busy dressing and trekking to celebrate with you. Nothing says thanks for coming more than food does.)
Favors & Parting Gifts- Leave your favors where your guests will depart from with a reminder that they are welcome to take one. A sign for a taxi service or the name of a person willing to give someone a ride in case they've celebrated too much is also nice.
Thank You's- It will surprise you to know that I'm terrible at thank you notes. Lucky for you we live in an age that makes it very easy for you to show your gratitude. Consider the recipient. Send your grandma a handwritten note. Email your vendors. Text, tweet, instagram- just do something to let people know you love their gift (pretend if you need to.) and that it wasn't stolen. Be creative and grateful and they'll know you love them.
Plan ahead, well ahead for all of your signage. pretend you're a guest and make a list of what you want to know.
for ideas and start early. The best wedding plans often get dropped or poorly implemented due to frustration and task overload in the end planning.
Enjoy your planning!