‘Everyone had a Blast!’

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Read any real-wedding story and there’s a good chance you’ll stumble across those four words that simply sum up the party: “Everyone had a blast!”

Yes, the wedding day is all about the couple, but the couple also wants to create an amazing experience for the guests. Here’s how to make an event that friends and family will rave about for years to come.

Good Feelings
Every wedding has a different energy to it. When planning, ask yourself, “What do you want your guests to go home feeling?” says Sikky Rogers, wedding planner with Clarke Allen Inc., in Charlotte, N.C. “Pretend like you’re a hostess in your own home. What can I do to make everyone feel welcome?”

Cheryl Cox, a bridal consultant and owner of South Carolina-based Weddings & Events by CLC, recommends connecting with guests online through a personal website, Twitter account or Pinterest board to get them excited for the wedding.

It’s also important to ask, “Do you want to know everybody there?” Cox says. A small, intimate affair can be more gratifying than a large, overwhelming event.

Eat Up
Instead of giving guests a choice of several meat or vegetarian options, set up multiple food stations to let guests make their own food and flavor combinations.

“They get to create what they really like and they’re happy,” says Rogers. Taco, sundae and slider bars are just a few options for self-serve stations that allow guests to top their dishes to their hearts’ desires. It’s an easy and fun way to give your guests something they’ll enjoy.

Twist and Shout
Your guests will look to you for permission to let loose and enjoy. “The couple dictates the magic of the reception,” Rogers says.

Get excited, and get your guests just as enthusiastic by including them in the entertainment. Make sure the DJ or band engages the audience and invites people to sing and dance on stage or on the dance floor, from grandparents to small children.

“You need to pick music for all those generations,” Rogers says. “You want everyone to feel included and feel the joy and the love of the music.”

For an evening reception, Rogers likes to offer a basket of glow sticks or blinking lights to guests to encourage them to shed their inhibitions.

Go Play
If guests are traveling in for your wedding or it’s a destination wedding, take advantage of all the location’s nearby activities. Guests will love trying their hand at pastimes like fishing, golfing and horseback riding, says Cox, who plans events in the Myrtle Beach area. Research travel packages and specials at local resorts or recreation centers close to where the wedding will be held.

Say ‘Thank You’
Leave your guests with the perfect memento from the day. Some of the most memorable items match the wedding’s overall theme or the day’s activities, Cox says. She’s seen buckets with sunscreen and flip-flops at beach weddings, and from craftier couples, homebrew beer and mason jars filled with and fresh hydrangea.

Rogers recommends giving goodies that can be easily carried back home on a plane or train, such as beautifully made candies or truffles. The gift itself isn’t as important as its portability, elegance and meaning, she says.

Tags: Brides365, fun, guests, entertainment, entertain, nice event, vibes