Tag Archives: logistics

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.

Do you need a mic at your ceremony?

Today we have a guest post from Cindy, who is going to talk about sound issues and tell us once and for all if anyone will be able to hear us if we get married on a beach. This is her bio:

Cindy Savage is a theatrical stage manager turned wedding planner/coordinator, who is also a full-time nanny. She and her wife, Julia,  own and operate Crafty Broads, a custom clothing, wedding planning, and professional organizing business in Chicago. In her free time, she is a food and wine snob who loves to cook and bake, an avid reader, a music lover, a wannabe blogger , and a really big nerd at heart.

So to re-cap, the ways in which I dig Cindy include, but are not limited to: she’s a really big nerd, an avid reader, she knows theatre stuff, she made her own wedding cake, she’s a nanny, and she references a spot of cognitive science below. What’s not to love?

To mic? Or not to mic? That is the question.

At least it’s the one Lindsay has asked me to address in this post. As a stage manager turned wedding coordinator, the issue of amplifying voices is one that comes my way often. In large theatres, it’s a given, but in smaller venues (which make up the majority of theatres in Chicago), it always seems to be up for debate. When it comes to your wedding, many people will tell you the answer is always yes; but do you really need microphones? Well, in weddings as in theatre, there are three big factors that will affect your decision.

First – Projection. You need to honestly assess the public speaking skills of your fiance, officiant, readers, and of course yourself. If you are confident that  everyone will be loud enough to be heard by guests at the back , then you might not need a microphone. To test this, go to your venue and have someone stand as far back as people will be… and then take 10 steps farther back. Now,  make up a sentence that you’re listening partner is unlikely to expect from you and say it in a loud, but not shouting, voice. (Our brains are programmed to help fill in the blanks when we can’t hear [Yay cognitive science!! – Ed], so it’s important that your partner really be hearing you for the first time in order to assess the sound quality. No famous movie lines! Make up a nonsense sentence and ask them to repeat it back to you.) If they heard you just fine, you are good to go.

Second – Space. Big spaces (church with a high ceiling; the beach) eat up sound and will make it hard for your guests to hear. Small spaces (private party room; your parents’ living room) will bounce the sound quickly back into everyone’s ears.

Third, and perhaps most importantly – People. Here’s something you might not know: people absorb sound. In theatre, we have to adjust volume levels after the first audience because what seems loud in an empty room can be difficult to hear when the seats are filled. So the number of guests is an important consideration. There’s no hard and fast rule here, because projection and space affect it too, but if you have more than 60 guests, you should get a mic. Also, beware that it’s much easier to hear someone who’s facing you! 

Based on the factors above, you should know whether or not you really need microphones. But you still need to think about logistical and financial concerns before you make a decision.

Location. If you’re outdoors, you may not have access to electricity – so you’ll need a system powered by a generator. Indoors, you’ll need an electrical outlet and maybe an extension cord and/or surge protector.

Equipment. What kind of equipment do you need? I could go into detail, but whoever you get the equipment from will be able to explain it to you. So, how do you find that person? Start with your venue – If you’re getting married in a church or a place that holds events regularly, there’s a good chance they already have a sound system as well as a someone who knows how to use it, and it may even be included in your space rental fee, so don’t forget to ask! Many event rental companies have PA systems available.

Money. Before you decide to yell your entire ceremony because rental is too expensive, ask around. You may already know someone who’d be happy to lend you what you need. If you have a friend in a band, ask their advice. College or community theatres may be willing to loan their equipment. A guitar or music store might have an inexpensive option that you could sell after the wedding. Bottom line: you may need to ask around a bit to find an affordable option.

Logistics. Don’t forget that someone will have to setup, test, and take down the equipment, so be sure to include that in your wedding day schedule.

I think that about wraps it up – I hope this info is helpful to you as you plan your wedding!