Time with guests, or How not to snub people

Wedding guests deserve face time with the happy couple. You know what sucks? When you go to a wedding, and you spend months being exicted about it, weeks thinking about and getting a present, days (or longer) figuring out what to wear, travelling to another country to attend the wedding, getting teary at the ceremony, and then the loved one getting married barely acknowedges your existence during the hours-long reception. And by barely acknowledging, I mean spending how ever many seconds it takes to say “Hi! Thanks so much for coming!” and then literally nothing else the rest of the time.

Pretty appalling, right? Maybe those of us who have only ever been guests see things differenty though. It is not uncommon for wedding graduates to talk about how they didn’t even say hi to some of their guests, and I’ve only ever seen this mentioned in the tone of, “Eh, what are you going to do? That’s weddings for you”. We hear a lot about how brides and grooms experience their reception as a whirlwind, getting pulled in every direction and not finding time to eat.

So is it reasonable or not for guests to not be interacted with? I find it fun to play around with numbers. Let’s get calculatin’!

Say you have 75 wedding guests. Often, these will be made up of family and friend groups, so you don’t necessarily need one-on-one time with each person, but you do need to spend a bit of time hanging with each posse. Let’s say you spend 20 minutes chatting with each group of 5. Not very demanding, seems reasonable to me. This gives 4 minutes per person, which for 75 guests equates to FIVE STRAIGHT HOURS. That doesn’t include time for pee breaks, eating, speeches, bouquet tossing and what have you, or dancing (which ideally I would do several hours of!).  Let’s say you allocate 3 hours for all this extra stuff. This means we’re looking at an 8 hour reception right there.

Once you work it out for longer guest lists, it gets kind of staggering:

4 minutes per person/20 minutes per party of 5
75 people – 5 hours mingling
100 people – 6 hours 40 minutes
120 people – 8 hours
150 people – 10 freaking hours!!

Not very many people have it in them to mingle and chat for 8 to 10 hours at once. So I can certainly understand why, especially for larger weddings, plenty of people don’t even get glanced at.

It’s an explanation, but it’s not an excuse. Firstly, it’s just plain not fair on guests who have taken the time and effort to be there. Secondly, if you don’t plan on interacting with your guests, why the hell did you invite them? The idea behind inviting people is that you want to see them and spend time with them. Or am I missing something?

Four minutes per person is still not that much. And if some of your guests are loved ones who you haven’t seen in years, or they had to do a lot of travelling to get there (happens to us immigrants a lot), then they frankly deserve a whole lot more time with you. This is where pre- and post-wedding events like family dinners, or say fun DIY working bees or whatever, serve a very important purpose, in my opinion.

So, the official Frugal Wedding advice on how not to snub your guests:
1. Only invite people you actually want to see and spend time with at your wedding*
2. Take your number of guests into account when planning your reception time
3. Make a point of interacting with every guest
4. Think about who deserves more time with you than just reception partying, and make arrangements so that they get it.

*Even if some of them are the obligatory type invites. They made the effort to be there for you, so they still deserve some face time.


3 responses to “Time with guests, or How not to snub people

  1. Pingback: What should the point of wedding photography be? | Frugal Wedding

  2. Pingback: When a destination wedding is sensible: Rethinking Miss Manners’ advice | Frugal Wedding

  3. This article is so right on. Having been to enough weddings as a guest and experiencing the “snubbing” not on purpose I may add but it happened just the same, when we got married we kept that in mind and simplified the whole affair. We hired a room with the biggest dance floor and had in attendance 32 people. We got to talk to everyone, dance quite a lot, eat our meals, enjoy the wine and even zip out long enough to change clothes and not be missed. All our guests were our closest friends who we are still in touch with today (7.5 years later) and immediate family (meaning parents and siblings only).

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