Brides-to-be have long checklists for planning their big day. Dress, flowers, venue, vows, will there be a sit-down dinner or hors d’oeuvres and crudités? Who will be in the wedding party?
“Every bride wants her wedding to be perfect and by that, many mean that they want the event itself and themselves to be absolutely beautiful,” says Eric Gulbrandson, a wedding photographer and author of the new book, “Dream Wedding Secrets: The All Important G.S.F."
“But a perfect wedding is also one that people remember months and years later as a wonderful event where they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Think about it – no bride wants her wedding remembered as a disaster!”
The secret is to put a high priority on what Gulbrandson calls the G.S.F. – Guest Satisfaction Factor.
“It’s how others perceive your wedding,” he says. “Most brides do want their guests to be able to enjoy their wedding, but they overlook the G.S.F. because all the advice is geared toward beauty and budgets.”
Gulbrandson interviewed hundreds of wedding guests and compiled more than 200 do’s and don’ts for brides-to-be for ensuring a high G.S.F. Among them:
• If you invite children, arrange a supervised activity area for them. Couples often include children on their guest list because they contribute to the family atmosphere and celebration, but weddings are not child-centered events. Kids get bored; the wedding day is often a long one with extended periods of sitting quietly and an abundance of adults consuming alcohol. Help parents and children enjoy the event by arranging for a supervised activity area on the outskirts of the reception. A couple of teenaged relatives may appreciate earning some money for overseeing arts and crafts projects and games. Hiring relatives for this job will help keep the costs reasonable.
• Don’t make costumes a requirement for your themed wedding. Whether you’ve got your heart set on a Renaissance faire or zombie nuptials, don’t require your guests to shell out money buying or renting costumes! Yes, you can ease any financial burden by requesting they wear costumes in lieu of buying gifts, but that doesn’t address the potential for physical and emotional discomfort. Sure, all your friends may be LARPers, but if Uncle Howard and Aunt Betty are not, they may not enjoy wearing capes and carrying swords to your ceremony.
• Don’t plan your wedding for a holiday weekend. Occasionally, brides plan their wedding for a three-day holiday weekend thinking it will help out-of-towners who want to attend. However, it also boosts the odds of local guests being out of town! Given that most working people have only two guaranteed three-day weekends a year, many plan ahead for them. Additionally, hotel and rental car prices tend to go up during holidays, and traffic doubles. Play it safe by avoiding calendar holidays and, of course, Super Bowl Sunday.
• With food and drink, if you have to choose between quantity and quality, choose quantity. Nobody will mind if the chicken skewers aren’t the best they ever had, but they will if you run out of them! While taste and presentation are important, having enough food and drink available throughout the event is more important than a glamorous presentation. If you have children at your wedding, you can keep costs down -- and make them happy -- by planning a separate menu of, say, chicken nuggets and macaroni-and-cheese.
• When it’s all said and done, don’t ruin your perfect wedding by failing to follow through with that time-honored (for good reason) custom of sending thank-you notes. “Technically, accepted protocol allows guests a year after the wedding to send a gift, so you may be on the receiving end for quite some time!” Gulbrandson says. “Keep a list and send handwritten thank-you’s as quickly as you can. Most guests and experts agree that one to three months after the wedding is fine, but my advice is to get on it quickly!”