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How to ensure your wedding isn't boring AF, as decreed by the experienced guests

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Megan Murray
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Want to know how to plan a wedding that isn’t boring? Well steer clear of situations like this…

OK, this is going to sound harsh – but some weddings, for all their good intentions, can be just a bit…naff. Yes, we know you – ‘the happy couple’ – have spent thousands on this once in a lifetime party. And we’re sure when you chose to have just one bottle of wine a table of 10, you did it in good faith that your guests could mingle without being plastered, but unfortunately that isn’t usually the case. 

Now, we’re not exactly talking about the worst ever wedding tales (although can we tempt you with these wedding guest horror stories that make Eastenders look like a Disney movie?). This isn’t a time to moan about the bride who asked her bridesmaid to lose weight and grow out her hairstyle for the wedding or the one who refused to let her bridesmaid acknowledge her pregnancy, this is for the brides-to-be that want to avoid a snorefest on their big day.

From dreary speeches that have guests falling asleep in their soup, to overpriced bars that make it hard for anyone to get into the wedding spirit – here are lots of ways a wedding can not only go wrong, but be painfully dull. 

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So here it is, all the advice you’ll ever need to make sure your wedding doesn’t bore your guests out the door, delivered to you by guests who have actually been bored out of the door. 

Whether you’re organising your own wedding, or attending one and fancy a laugh, let these woe-betide wedding guests tell you what not to do on the big day. 

Don’t get experimental with the seating plan 

I’ve been to a couple of weddings where friendship groups have been mixed up on tables “so people get to know each other”. I get it, it is very exciting to have all your mates in one place for one time only. But, speaking from experience as someone who has been placed next to people I will never, ever see again in my life, this isn’t… actually… fun? 

Seating plans are notoriously tricky things to get right but the easiest way to get it wrong is to plan a day where your guests have (often) paid a lot of money to be there, maybe even used their precious annual leave, then realise they are destined to spend four hours with a bunch of people they don’t know. Shout out to my cousin’s accountant boss – it was a great afternoon, mate.

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Consider the timings of the day for those not in the wedding party

I have been to many weddings in my short life and there’s one thing that is guaranteed to make a day dull: leaving hours between the ceremony and the reception. Even worse, miscalculating just how much bored guests (you know, those of us not involved in the actual marriage pomp or pictures) will need to drink in order to get through 180 minutes of small talk with other bored guests. 

For the LOVE OF GOD, think about the timings – and order double the prosecco. 

Speeches must come second to food, there is no other way

Speeches are great. I love a speech, honestly I do. But please, please, please have them AFTER dinner. During dessert, maybe, when everyone is feeling sated and happy and content with their lot in life. I once sat through eight – yes, EIGHT – speeches before I’d even had the slightest sniff of a starter. 

By the time the father-of-the-bride had plodded to the end of his three-page essay (FRONT AND BACK), I felt like I’d done a stint on Bear Grylls’ The Island. When the bread basket finally, finally arrived, I felt a small salty tear leak out of my eye. And then I, much like everyone else in the room, fell upon that mini ciabatta like a ravenous hyena.

Keep an eye on the temperature – and react accordingly

I’ve been to two utterly stifling weddings: the first took place in a glasshouse on the world’s sunniest day, and guests were challenged to stand throughout the entire ceremony (chairs are for wusses, kids) without fainting. I protected my head with my clutch bag and, when I felt it a little while later, the metal zip had the same impact as a red-hot poker.

The second was in a church, with no windows or doors propped open to let in a welcome breeze. Pretty much everyone was swaying on their feet, desperately using anything – Bibles, hymnbooks, handbags, small children – to fan themselves cool.

Top tip? If it’s going to be hot on your wedding day, provide fans and bottles of water and, for the love of god, let your guests sit down. Everything feels like it lasts ten times longer when you’re sweating like a pig and terrified that, when you stand up, your butt is going to be drenched in your own human liquids.

Remember, food and music are VERY important 

All anyone really wants, and all anyone really remembers, from a wedding is this: the food. So if you’re going to do a cold salad buffet (as in, bowls of limp lettuce leaves and the odd beetroot cube), don’t be surprised if people riot. 

Weddings go on ALL DAY LONG and we need our sustenance, goddamn it! It’s also worth noting that we NEED music. We need it to fill the awkward gaps in conversation, we need it to give the evening side of things some purpose, and we need it because… well, it’s a wedding and weddings are one of the few times in life when you can clasp a prosecco in hand, shimmy along to some Nineties pop classics, and almost look cool while doing it. 

Therefore, not organising music and forcing your guests to set up their own Spotify playlist, shove their iPhone in a bowl (for acoustics) and dance around said crockery is a Very Bad Idea, and people will speak badly of you and your “special day” for years to come. You have been warned.

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Don’t invite people you don’t know 

My boyfriend was given a solo invitation to a friend from his previous work’s wedding. That’s absolutely fine by me – I’d never met the groom, let alone the bride or any other members of the wedding party. I was going to tag along to our gorgeous countryside AirBnb, read books in the sunshine and go for a walk to the pub. #dreamy

Long story short, someone dropped out the day before and I was suddenly invited. My boyfriend insisted I go, so as not to make things awkward. Well, awkward it was. I didn’t know a soul, because of this I was bored out of my mind. The speeches were long and arduous, and the happy couple decided they wanted group photographs so it will be a fun game of Where’s Wally picking out my face (and trying to remember my name) in five years’ time.

After several hours of standing beside my boyfriend while he talked shop with former colleagues, I ended the evening loitering near the buffet (completely alone) before persuading my boyfriend to leave because I had a cracking headache.

My top tip, never invite someone you don’t know to a wedding. They won’t enjoy it, and you’ll never remember who they are in all your photos. 

No one engages with a reading they can’t understand 

I went to a wedding at a beautiful stately home in Scotland, and the couple were really keen to incorporate Scottish heritage in every way they could – kilts, highland dancing, the whole shebang. 

However, they went a step too far and bored everyone to tears during the ceremony when they got a teen relative to read a poem in Gaelic – he had no idea what he was saying but painstakingly attempted to pronounce every word, no one had a clue what was going on and it went on for at least 25 minutes. I wish I’d had some whisky in my hip flask to pass the time.

Think about how your guests will react to the music you’ve chosen 

At the last wedding I went to, me and my boyfriend basically arrived, ate, sat down to eat more and then when were finally hoping to get the party started, arrived this horrendous band that I still don’t understand why it was ever booked.

The singer was an old lady and refused to play anything modern, only old songs from the Sixties which none of us had ever heard of. Of course, without knowing any of the songs nobody even tried to get to the dance-floor, which stayed miserably empty while the atmosphere dwindled. We literally had some cake and left. 

Nobody got drunk, nobody danced and nobody mingled, it was like being at an awkward school party.

Tell your best man to limit his speech time 

Weddings are famous for best man speeches, intended to be hilarious, a little bit cringey and full of good fun. But a wedding I went to last year featured probably the worst best man’s speech known to, well, man. 

Not only was it painfully executed, with lots of mumbling, niche references that no one except the groom understood (know your audience, buddy), and relentless stories about other women the groom had had crushes on in his younger years (clearly making the bride uncomfortable, and again had very little relevance to the event in hand and 98% of the people at it) – it went on for a solid 55 minutes. 

Seriously, it was like bloody marathon. About 25 minutes in, I noticed (drifting in and out of consciousness) that the speech still hadn’t reached a point in the groom’s life where he had even met the bride, and thought how much longer have we got to go? So when at 40 minutes in, he pulled out a small projector and ushered the bride and groom over to the corner of the hall, to watch a very quiet video he had concocted which none of the room could hear or see properly, he officially lost us all and the vibe plummeted. 

A hubbub of murmuring broke out into full on conversations as the entire room lost interest, while the bride’s face turned to thunder. When the speech eventually finished she stormed out looking very pissed off. I’ve still never been able to work out if she was annoyed because the speech was so painful, or because we all spoke over it. Bottom line: give them a 15 minute window and cut them off if they don’t wrap it up after that. 

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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