By Rebecca Padgett
Sure, the perception is that the wedding day is supposed to be all about the happy couple, but many couples know that having happy guests equates to an overall beautiful day. Your guests have come near and far, are friends new and old and are all invited to experience one of the most special days of your life. That’s why it is important to be aware of and inclusive of their needs. The beauty of gathering your closest friends and family is they come from all walks of life, and each should feel welcomed, wanted and included. Below are just some of the many ways to be more inclusive of your guests.
- Leave a space on the RSVP for guests to specify any dietary restrictions, allergies or preferences.
- Work with your caterer to arrange food options based on the responses you receive.
- If serving buffet style, ask for the food to be labeled if it contains certain ingredients such as nuts, eggs, gluten and other known allergens.
- Inquire with your venue on what their ADA features are and make sure they are up to code.
- Do a walkthrough from the point of view of your disabled guests. Would the elevators, ramps, bathrooms, walkways, etc. be easy to navigate?
- Allow extra time for any transportation challenges that could arise.
- Consider how loud music and large crowds could overstimulate guests with special needs. Have a cool, peaceful room or space they can retreat to.
- Designate helpers that will be at the ready in case a special needs guest needs assistance.
- Make sure important events happen earlier in the night in case handicapped guests need to depart sooner than the reception ends.
- Talk with your planner about arranging handicap seating.
- Have specified drop off spots or handicap spaces close to the front of the venue available.
- Let handicapped guests know they are welcome and encouraged to participate in all events. If they want to dance, have them wheeled onto the dance floor!
- If you decide to allow children at your wedding, remember their little minds need to be entertained in a different way than adult minds. Provide coloring books, games, toys and more.
- Have designated spaces for children to play together.
- Offer snacks and kid-friendly meal options.
Gender Nonconforming Guests
- Don’t address invitations, place cards, seating charts, etc. with traditional, limiting pronouns or titles, simply call them by their preferred name.
- Open up traditional events such as catching the bouquet or garter to all genders.
Guests Who Don’t Get Along
- Seating charts are key. Seat opposing parties far from each other and surround them with people they enjoy being around.
- Create a fun mocktail menu so sober guests can still try refreshing flavors and sip in peace.
- Create an environment that doesn’t make guests feel pressured to drink in order to have fun.
- Water bowls are a must.
- Have treats on hand.
- Designated doggy bathroom spaces.
- Be cognizant that dog fights could occur or animals could get restless fast.