Weddings are about two things: Bringing people together to participate in and celebrate the union of two people, and those two people offering hospitality to those participants. Let’s take a look at the many and varied ways that you can make your guests feel welcome and appreciated.
Here are a couple of really important ones:
Feed them well. If your wedding and reception stretch over a meal hour, feed your guests a full meal that they will enjoy. One of the things that guests remember most about weddings was whether the food was good or not – and if there was enough of it!
Here at Chase Court, the wedding venue that I own, we have a list of eight approved caterers. All of them put great – and even fantastic – food on the table. There are caterers at other venues who can do the same. There is absolutely no reason to have bad food at your wedding! Choose your caterer with care. If your budget is tight, do something simple, and do it well.
All of our caterers, and many others, are accustomed to feeding vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free guests. While they are often equipped to handle a surprise vegetarian or two, it’s far better hospitality to find out ahead of time which of your guests needs something other than an omnivore diet. As a long-term (37 years!) pesco-vegetarian, I am highly appreciative of hosts who give the caterer an opportunity to feed me something interesting and appropriate, rather than part of the full meal that others are eating.
While we’re talking diversity, more and more people are becoming health-conscious in their eating habits. While I’m not suggesting you go all rice and veggies, it’s good to be aware of what your guests will enjoy. You may not please everyone, but feeding them a good (and ideally, of course, great) meal that meets their needs is perfectly fine hospitality.
Let’s talk about drink. For many Americans, alcohol consumption is tied to having a good time. Some form of bar service is almost always available at wedding receptions. I’d like to think that it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: the only way to do a bar is with an open bar. Don’t make guests pay for anything at your wedding! Apron dances aside, everything that your guests experience at your wedding is part of your gift to them for being your guests.
However, you can control what you offer. We’re talking hospitality here, not the bar-to-end-all-bars. Many couples choose to serve just beer and wine. That’s perfectly fine. There is a craft beer explosion going on in Maryland and DC, so you can be creative and interesting in your choices. Likewise, the availability of good local wine is on the upswing. You can add great local and regional flavor – literally – to your reception through your beverage choices.
You can step that up a notch by adding a “signature” drink, which is generally something simple, using a single spirit like rum or gin. Plenty of weddings go even wider, with a medium-size bar that may include vodka, gin, scotch, light rum, bourbon, and tequila, among others. Whiskey is having a moment around here, so that’s another way to work in local flavor.
Do you or your sweetie have your heart set on drinking your favorite single-malt whiskey at your wedding? No problem! Most bartenders will be happy to keep a bottle under the counter, reserved for the happy couple.
Get food and drink right and you’ll be a fantastic host, no matter what happens! But there are many other things you can do to provide great hospitality for your guests. More on that next time!
Next time: More on Loving Your Guests.
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.