I've worked as a bridesmaid for hire for over seven years, so I've attended over 125 weddings.
It's definitely worth it to splurge a little on good food and a variety of beverage options.
But people don't tend to notice detailed decor, wedding favors, or intricate floral arrangements.
As the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire, I find myself spending most of my weekends working for strangers at weddings. In fact, since starting the business over seven years ago, I've attended over 125.
I've found that guests don't care about lavish decor and monogrammed party favors. They care about the three C's: cocktails, comfort, and a catered meal.
If you're in the thick of wedding planning, here's what I've found guests actually want - and what they never seem to notice.
It's worth it to spring for delicious food
Most guests arrive at a wedding hungry, so the more food options you have, the happier they'll be.
If you pick a caterer or a venue with a top-notch chef and delicious menu options, you'll impress your guests and leave them feel satisfied. The expense is worth every penny.
Everyone is looking for dance-worthy music at a wedding
If your wedding venue has a dance floor, splurge on entertainment that's going to get your guests excited to get out of their seats.
Spend time researching bands or DJs with good ratings who have a style you enjoy.
Having good music playing throughout your wedding makes it memorable and fun for guests.
It's nice to offer a variety of drinks
Weddings are just a big celebration, so food and drink top most people's list of things they look forward to.
When it comes to beverages, whether or not you do an open bar, offer enough options that you can please most of your guests.
People usually notice and appreciate a well-structured event
I've found that guests love structure and a timeline. Rather than having a "go with the flow" wedding, make sure the event has some sort of order, preferably planned out hour-by-hour.
If your cocktail hour goes on too long or your ceremony feels endless, your guests will get tired - and might even start to fall asleep.
It can be helpful to hire someone, like a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator, to make sure the day follows the game plan you set.
Comfort trumps aesthetics at weddings
Thinking of picking fancy chairs that aren't comfortable? Considering having the entire wedding outside during the heat of the summer? Questioning whether your guests will be OK if you only serve pizza?
One thing that will make your guests truly enjoy the time they spend at your wedding is allowing them to feel comfortable.
When you're making decisions around food, venues, and even decorations, remember who's going to spend six to eight hours at your party and pick options that will make them feel at ease.
On the other hand, having tons of decorations is rarely worth it
When you're imagining how your wedding will look, you might picture tons of personalized decor, like wedding signs and monogrammed napkins.
But those items get expensive, and most of your guests are so busy they don't even take the time to notice the small details.
If you're looking to save money, cut out some of those decor items.
Most people end up discarding wedding favors
It might seem like a nice gesture to send your guests home with a wedding favor, but many forget to grab one at the end of the night.
Instead of spending a ton of cash on favors, go with something simple that your guests can use immediately (a personalized bottle of water, a bag of cookies, etc.). Or skip it altogether and put the money behind an extra appetizer at cocktail hour - your guests will likely enjoy that more.
Don't waste a bunch of money on late-night snacks
A trend in recent years is to have caterers put out late-night snacks during the final few hours of a wedding.
Although it might sound like a good idea to have pizza or burgers with fries, most guests are stuffed by that hour and won't touch much of the food.
If you still want to offer a final presentation of food, go light on your offerings so you don't waste your money.
Flowers are nice, but there's no need to go overboard
One way to save money on your wedding is to avoid having tons of flowers.
Selecting a venue that's gorgeous on its own will help. But if your venue is more simple looking, you can fill the space with candles, plants, and other decorations, too.
Covering everything with big bouquets and floral arrangements might make your wedding look spectacular, but it will cost more than it's worth. Plus, guests hardly notice the intricate floral arrangements.
Most people aren't expecting an extravagant welcome bag at the hotel
Even though it's a kind gesture to present your guests with a welcome bag when they check in at the hotel, you don't need to go above and beyond.
As your guests get ready to celebrate your big day and recover after it's over, they might appreciate some practical essentials like water, pain medicine, vitamin-C packs, and snacks.
But that's really all you need.