What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints

Your loved ones would probably NEVER tell you if there was something they didn’t like about your wedding. And even if they did (looking at you, Aunt Edith) there’s not a whole lot you can do about it after the day. 

But the grumbles of disappointed wedding guests can still be heard out of earshot of the happy couple. And sadly, some of those complaints can get brought up for YEARS (let it go, Uncle Rodney). Here are the things wedding guests hate and how to avoid them! 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | The Fox and The Hare Photography via Rustic Wedding Chic
The Fox and The Hare Photography via Rustic Wedding Chic

1. Not planning for the weather 

“It was absolutely freezing, so a lot of people left early.”

“We got completely soaked because there wasn’t enough undercover shelter.”

“It was so hot, one poor guest fainted.”

Planning for the seasonal conditions of your wedding is not only a matter of enjoyment for your guests, but of safety. 

Shade and water in summer, heating in winter and a wet weather backup that adequately caters for all of your guests will help everyone have a good time on your big day, no matter the forecast. 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Taryn Grey Photography via Martha Stewart Weddings
Taryn Grey Photography via Martha Stewart Weddings

Yes, your loved ones should hopefully bring their own umbrellas or coats if the radar dictates it. But they’ll also remember the thoughtful details you organised to ensure they felt comfortable and cared for. 

“They had a box of blankets and a fire pit, so we were nice and toasty.”

“It poured with rain, but we were all inside so it didn’t really bother us.”

“The ceremony was outside, but they set up a ‘Hydration Station’ which I thought was a great idea.” 

2. Too long between the ceremony and reception 

Formal portraits of the newlyweds, their family and wedding party are usually taken between the ceremony and reception, because the light is at its best and no one’s got spinach in their teeth yet. But this can mean a long wait for the guests before festivities really kick off. 

If you’ve already planned for cocktail hour with drinks, nibbles and some entertainment, your guests will feel well looked after while you’re away. 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | April and Paul via Ruffled
April and Paul via Ruffled

But there’s another reason they might not be too fond of a big gap between the ceremony and reception: they’re there to see you! Besides a brief moment for a hug, a kiss and congratulations after the ceremony, your guests haven’t really gotten to celebrate your marriage with you yet. 

We know you want to preserve these special memories on camera, but you also want to spend time with the people who have made the effort to be there with you. So aim to fill your guests’ bellies and glasses in the meantime and not let too much of the party happen without you! 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Leah Nicole Photo via The Magnolia
Leah Nicole Photo via The Magnolia

3. Awkward seating plans 

There’s not much worse as a wedding guest than seeing where you’re seated at the reception and knowing you’re in for a dull night. 

The newlyweds are good friends of yours, but you’re pretty sure they considered putting you on the kids table before squeezing you in next to cousin Felix instead. 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Ali Bailey via Hello May
Ali Bailey via Hello May

We know seating plans can be hard, but it’s worth spending the time to get them right as they can make or break the experience for your wedding guests. A common misconception is that people can always move around if they want, but for a sizeable chunk of a seated reception, they’re stuck in place.

So how do you keep your guests happy? Group together people who know each other and then add who you think they would get along well with. Resist any urge to mix everyone up so they’ll have to meet new people. If your friends and family wanted to spend the night breaking the ice, they would’ve boarded a ship on the Baltic Sea! 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Heirlume Photography
Heirlume Photography

A well constructed seating plan means all you’ll hear is the satisfying sound of guests chatting and laughing amongst themselves. 

4. Not enough seating 

It’s time for another truth bomb. If there are no chairs to sit in at your wedding unless you’re Nanna, things might wrap up earlier than you expected. It’s not that your loved ones haven’t had a good time, it’s just that standing for hours in heels is tiring, and no one is keen to sit on wet grass or grubby carpet in their wedding finery. 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Meg Smith Photography via Martha Stewart Weddings
Meg Smith Photography via Martha Stewart Weddings

You don’t need to be old or have a medical condition to want a moment off your feet. The dance floor devotees will appreciate the break, especially after an enthusiastic Nutbush rendition. And a little further away from the music, others will enjoy hanging out and swapping stories on cosy lounges. 

While your guests might not rave about the fact that you had a heap of seating available at your wedding, they certainly won’t complain there wasn’t enough! 

5. Not enough food

You hear that? That’s the sound of your guests’ stomachs rumbling after the grazing board that was meant to tide everyone over for three hours got demolished in 30 minutes. 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | With Megs
With Megs

We’ve heard more than one story about wedding guests making a desperate pit-stop at McDonald’s on the way home to fill the void left by five teeny tiny canapes. The rest got snaffled by the other starving guests who strategically stationed themselves next to the kitchen doors. (Uh, guilty. Desperate times and all that.)

We really don’t like telling couples what to do for their wedding, but we’re going to make an exception this time. Don’t. Skimp. On. The. Food. All your wedding guests will remember is how hungry they were and that’s a real shame when you’ve gone to so much trouble to pull this amazing event together. 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | With Love from Near + Far via Nouba
With Love from Near + Far via Nouba

No matter your style of wedding, it’s important to include some more substantial menu options – basically anything that’s served in a box, bowl or on a plate. And if you’re having a buffet, make sure that guests at the back of the queue aren’t left with small, stone cold portions because the first few tables loaded up. More dining means less whining!

6. Long speeches and too many people giving them

Speeches are a time honoured wedding tradition, but if we’re honest, the only people who really, truly enjoy them are the newlyweds. The reason? When it’s time for the first toast, the food is cleared away, the music is turned off and the conversations are put on hold – talk about a bit of a buzzkill.

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Carla Penoncelli via Junebug Weddings
Carla Penoncelli via Junebug Weddings

Now, people are used to sitting through speeches at weddings, so why the complaint? Because they can often drag on and on, with too many people speaking and too much time per speaker. Inside references and inappropriate jokes can also quickly turn things cringey. 

Here are our top tips to keep your wedding speeches streamlined. 

  1. Invite one person from each side of your wedding party and each side of your family to speak. You can also opt to share some brief words of thanks as a couple. 
  2. Ask your loved ones to limit their speeches to a maximum of three minutes.
  3. Don’t encourage a free-for-all by offering up the microphone to (usually drunk) spur-of-the-moment speechmakers.
  4. Keep the total time for speeches to under 20 minutes, so we can all get back to partying with you!
What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Alli Woods via The Asia Collective
Alli Woods via The Asia Collective

7. Not enough free time for socialising

In our next chapter of Good Vibes and How to Kill Them, we’re covering the worst offender: a packed wedding reception timeline.  

It can be tempting to plan out every minute of your wedding and drip feed events throughout, especially if you’re worried about keeping your guests entertained for so many hours. 

But that’s forgetting one thing: that your loved ones are going to be perfectly happy eating, drinking, dancing and catching up with one another. And every planned event interrupts the fun party atmosphere you’ve gone to a lot of effort to create. 

Weddings and traditions go hand in hand, but if you finish up the formalities earlier, you can all enjoy the rest of the celebration without watching the clock. 

What Makes a Bad Wedding? These Are the Biggest Wedding Guest Complaints | Lacie Hansen via Ruffled
Lacie Hansen via Ruffled

Any happily married couple will tell you that a little bit of flexibility and spontaneity goes a long way, so why not build that into your wedding day? It’s often how the best memories are made. 

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