This article first appeared in Beyond Bespoke on 4 May 2016
While it may not be your role to look after your guests’ social needs on your big day, as bride and groom it’s down to you to plan ahead to make it happen. Here’s how to ensure that strangers become friends and no one feels left out of the party
Weddings these days are teeming with strangers. They may not be strangers to you, the bride, but they will most likely be strangers to each other. They will flock like bees to a honeypot, hoping for a share of the sweet pleasure of your happy day, and they’ll be getting dressed up to show you they want to be part of it. They’ll surround you with that lovely warm feeling you get when friends and family come out to support you. Don’t forget to make sure they get some of that warm feeling too.
Guests who are strangers to each other won’t get warm feelings whilst the other guests remain strangers to them. They need to feel they belong to the social group that has assembled for your wedding. You can make this happen.
There will be at least two different families merging together for the day, maybe even more if either one of you has been married before. Just knowing who’s who and how they fit in can be difficult for family members, who haven’t been briefed beforehand. Then there’s your respective friends, some of whom will form into a happy – but exclusive – huddle, which prefers not to admit strangers: enjoyable for those who are included but no fun at all for those who are excluded. And what about the friends of your parents who you’ve known since childhood who might not know anyone apart from your parents? They might really enjoy meeting your friends. And then there’s always someone on the periphery of your life, a work colleague maybe, or a single girlfriend, who’s come on her own and doesn’t know anyone else.
All these people need someone to help create those lovely warm feelings for them. As bride and groom, it’s not your role to look after your guests’ social needs on the day, but it is down to you to plan ahead to make it happen.
Guests need to feel they belong to the social group that has assembled for your wedding. You can make this happen
The best thing to do is to enlist a relative to do this on your behalf. At first glance, the most gregarious might seem the obvious choice, but take a closer look because sometimes the gregarious uncle might like to talk, and get waylaid by his own conversations, forgetting the important role that has been entrusted to him. Try to find someone who likes to create harmony in a group and has the authority and confidence to approach anyone at the wedding. Whilst your parents might seem an obvious choice, they will be too busy with the relatives, getting to know the in-laws and helping out with last-minute hitches. A sibling is a good choice, providing they won’t be overcome with shyness when faced with so many people all at once. Your future mother- or father-in-law might also fit the bill. They’ll have the edge over a sibling because they’ll have more experience of interacting with people.
Once you’ve chosen your social host, sit him or her down with the guest list and explain who everyone is and how they fit in. In particular, point out those who won’t know anyone at all, or only one or two people, so that they can be given particular attention. Particular attention doesn’t mean that your social host should talk to them at length – on the contrary, his or her job is to help them feel included. Ask your relative to introduce them to as many people as possible.
You can discuss who might like to meet who, but this is a nicety that usually comes with practice. The basic rule of thumb is for the social host to pick up anyone standing around on their own or people who have got stuck with each other. You can always tell the latter by their body language.
Good luck, enjoy your day – and who knows, you might just be the creator of another engagement.
Rachel Fay introduces guests at weddings. To book her for yours, contact her on 020 8743 1249 or at firstname.lastname@example.org