(Plus 2 extra ideas if you want to spend a bit more)
When you get married abroad, if you’re anything like us, you’ll be racked with guilt about people taking a holiday to attend your wedding.
What can you do to show guests how much you appreciate them without blowing your budget?
1. Leave a small present in their room
We left a postcard, a box of chocolates, and a bottle of wine in guests’ rooms and a few extra goodies for our closest relatives. We bought these from a cheap supermarket once we arrived in the town where we were getting married.
Most chocolates would have been delivered in a liquid state and cycling to eleven hotels over a very hilly town took a while, but it was a great way to get to know the area, interesting to see where guests were staying, and we received lovely thank you messages when people arrived.
2. Greet every guest immediately after the ceremony
In the whirlwind of your Big Day’s events, it can be easy to be swept along, almost unconsciously, from one activity to the next.
After the ceremony, you’ll be buzzing, everyone will be dying for the party to start, and the photographer will be itching to whisk you away for photos. Taking a few minutes to thank guests for coming, however, allows everyone’s presence to be acknowledged and for you to connect with people one on one before they mingle and you can’t remember who you’ve greeted.
3. Check special dietary requirements and ensure you get them right
The last thing you want is for your vegan friend to be sat with an empty plate as everyone else dives into their second helpings of something meaty, so do your homework, pass the information onto your caterers, and then double and triple-check they are prepared to cater for all guests.
4. Consider how to keep children entertained over lengthy dinners
A wedding is a very long day for little people and after already having sat through a ceremony, having then to be glued to a seat during a long dinner will be challenging.
We ensured there was plenty of time for children to run around between the ceremony and dinner, and left activity booklets and small presents for children on the tables. You can find activity booklets online. Here are a couple of examples:
6 Printable Activities to Keep Kids Busy at the Reception
WEDDING ACTIVITY BOOK FOR KIDS
We also asked for the Starters and Desserts to be served but for the Mains to be a buffet so that children could move around more freely in the middle of dinner.
5. Leave two spaces free at each table so you can change seats between courses and talk to more guests
We agonised over table plans for hours. We wanted to sit next to everyone! Then we realised, perhaps we could.
6. Ask guests to RSVP with the name of the song which would get them on the dance floor
Pass the song list onto your DJ and ask him to call out guests’ names when tunes are played. Alternatively, create your own playlist using something like Spotify and delegate song announcements to your loudest relative.
7. Give personalised gifts to say thank you
Personalised gifts don’t have to cost a lot of money.
– embroidered messages onto ties and hankies.
– made our own bookmarks with a thank you poem on one side (see number 9 below) and a photo of the venue with the wedding date on the other.
– found small budget-friendly gifts on Etsy: for example, these bracelets for the Maid of Honour and Mother of the Bride, and these sunglasses, which could be personalised, for the Bride’s Bodyguards.
– assembled our own favours: we bought small empty gift boxes online, filled them with almonds which we bought locally in Crete, and slipped a bookmark through the top of the boxes.
– made Thank You gift bags comprising of two shot glasses (bought in Crete) and a small bottle of raki. We bought the empty bottles online – like these – and a bulk supply of local raki when we arrived in Crete.
– asked a friend in Thailand to bring us colourful fans from a Thai market.
For further affordable gift ideas, see these websites:
40 Frugal DIY Wedding Favors Guests Will Actually Want to Take Home
25 DIY Wedding Favors for Any Budget
10 Wedding Favors Under $1
9. Write a poem to thank guests
This one’s totally free to do!
Here’s the one we wrote and read out at the beginning of the ceremony:
10. Put photos of your guests on your wedding website if you have one
This enables everyone to start familiarising themselves with each other weeks before the wedding day.
We also put snippets of our family trees on our wedding website to help people understand who’s who.
11. Print photos of guests and use them for games on the wedding day
We spent hours making little photo cards of each guest but never got round to actually using them on the day. Doh!
Here are some ideas we had anyway:
– Use them to play a wedding guest version of Guess Who?
– Distribute one photo card randomly to each guest and tell them they have to find the person and discover something interesting about them during the course of the wedding without the person they get knowing they are fishing for a story. Then, pass the microphone around in the evening and let people share what they’ve discovered.
– Hide the cards around the venue and get children to find them. They’ll quickly learn people’s names!
– Use the cards to randomly select teams for other party games.
12. Send personalised thank you cards after the wedding
As a wedding present, Matt’s gran made us a large framed collage with photos from the wedding day and his grandad used a photo of the collage to make us a batch of Thank You cards. Beautiful, thoughtful presents which saved us time and money!
And here are two extra ideas if you have a bigger budget…
1. Have a pre-wedding get-together
This is a great way to allow guests to get to know each other in a more informal setting before they’re all scrubbed up and on their best behaviour.
We had pre-wedding drinks and nibbles in a local bar two days before the wedding.
2. Organise transport for guests to the wedding venue
When guests are already paying for flights and hotels to come to your wedding, it’s a nice idea to at least get their taxis (or boat/bus/van etc. rides) to the venue.
So, they were a few things we did but there are many other ways you could make guests feel special.
Click on any of the following links to other sites for further inspiration and please come back to share your own ideas in the comments below to help other couples.