If your summer is looking anything like mine, you will be attending a different wedding every weekend (this is barely an exaggeration, by the way). It's been very interesting going to all these weddings as someone who is planning her own wedding, kind of gives you a different perspective. So here are all the things I have learned as a bride and a frequent wedding guest:
DO pay attention to wedding etiquette. This goes for all involved. Brides, if someone on your guest list has a serious significant other (dating for more than a few months) they need to be invited. You wouldn't want to go to a wedding without your honey, and your guests don't want to either. Guests, pay attention to what is written on the envelope. If there is no "and guest" after your name, that means the couple has not accounted for you bringing a plus one. It might seem like one more person is no big deal, but if everyone follows that train of thought, you're looking at a lot of extra people.
DON'T have a cash bar! Can't stress this enough. Most brides these days are on a budget and cutting the liquor is an easy way to save money, but it is also a HUGE inconvenience to your guests. Even if you only offer Bud Light and two buck chuck, your guests will be much happier than if they have to fork over their hard earned cash for a drink.
DO incorporate personal details into your big day. Your guests want to walk away feeling like they celebrated YOU. Whether it's a slide show of baby pictures or table names of places you've been, bring something into your wedding that is about you guys as a couple.
DON'T get too wrapped up in traditions. After your first dance, mother/groom dance, father/bride dance, bouquet toss, cake cutting, garter toss, etc. there won't be a whole lot of time left for dancing and mingling. As a guest, the dancing and mingling is the fun part, sitting around for an hour after dinner is not. Pick the traditions that matter the most to you and leave the rest behind.
DO take your guests into consideration. I know this is YOUR day and it should be about what YOU want, but keep your guests in mind. They are spending money to be there, both on your gift and for traveling expenses. Make sure you have a comfortable environment for them.
DON'T forget to say hi to all of your guests. I know I am planning on spending most of my night out on the dance floor, but I also think it is very important to acknowledge all of your guests. They are coming out to support you and they deserve at least a hello, a hug and a "thank you for coming."
DO start on time. As a former stage manager, it always irritates me when a show starts late and your wedding is one big show. Most guests arrive early anyway so don't make them sit there longer than necessary.
DON'T forget about your littlest guests. Parents of your younger crowd will thank you if there is some sort of activity (crayons and a coloring book, for example) to keep those little hands busy.
DO consider your audience when deciding on your music selections. If you have a mostly twenties aged crowd, a swing band is probably not going to get them out on the floor. On the flip side, if your guests are mainly your parents' friends, a house DJ is only going to irritate them.
DON'T forget to take a moment and take it all in. This is your day and you want to remember all the details.
Hopefully these tips will help you craft a day that is fun for you AND your guests!