Congratulations on your engagement! We hope that you’ll be very happy together, and as your wedding guests we look forward to sharing your day with you.

As you start to plan your dream day, please don’t forget about us! We’ve done this wedding guest gig before and we have a few tips to help make your wedding the best we’ve ever attended. Here are 5 bits of advice from the wedding guests:

1. A Range in the Registry. We’re sure there’s someone on your guest list who would be delighted to buy you that $800 rug, but it probably won’t be your recently-graduated best friend. Especially in these tough economic times, lots of folks are tightening the belt. Please try to offer gift choices for a range of budgets.

2. Get clear on kids. If you don’t want kids at your wedding, that’s your choice. Just be clear about it well ahead of time; let guests know if there is an age limit (12 and up? Over 18 only?); and be consistent. Most guests will gladly hire a sitter, but might be offended to see that others weren’t expected to do so.

3. Eat. Drink. Be Merry. Ever notice how those three are always listed in a particular order? When you’re having your photos taken after the ceremony, please offer some refreshments for your guests while they await your entrance. Snacks and drinks help ensure that everyone is in a good mood and ready to party as soon as you arrive. Another way you can help with this is to…

4. Keep it close. We know you can’t always have the reception near the ceremony, but if it’s possible, keep it close. Particularly when we’ve come from far away, traveling long distances to get from event to event can be a drag. If this has to happen, make sure you provide directions and maps to guests.

5. Don’t let seating take a back seat. Seating arrangements can be complicated, we know. But it’s not always fun to spend the evening seated at a table with complete strangers. If at all possible, try to provide us with some familiar faces (particularly important for those single friends who attend sans date).

Here are some Bonus Tips from my Facebook Friends:

Help with the Herd
Dean B., a photographer in Reno, NV, suggests, “The Best Man or Maid of Honor need to be in charge of ‘herding cats’ for the family group photos. The photographer does not know these people and needs a team player to help for this task.” (With this kind of help, your photography could be finished in record time!)

Start it Slow
Beth P. says, “I think the best advice I got was to start the dancing with a slow song because everyone will dance to that – it gets everyone out on the dance floor right off the bat. Then play something really fun to keep everyone out there. There is nothing more awkward than the first dancing song when everyone is staring at each other waiting ….”

To Free or Not to Free (Alcohol, that is)…
Todd D. says, “Can you say……OPEN BAR? At the very least, offer free beer and wine.”

Melissa H. suggests, “Maybe give a ticket for one free drink, if the bride/groom can afford it. After all, someone has to pay. If people really want to drink, they will be willing to pay.”

Beth P. adds, “We had bottles of red and white wine on the tables during dinner. I liked the way that worked out.”

James B. offers some final thoughts to put the focus back on you: “The best advice I can give is do what you think is right for your wedding. Everybody and his brother will stick their two cents in if they can. Make it the way you want it and it will turn out perfect.”

What do you think? Do you have some suggestions for wedding couples? What have you learned from being a wedding guest? Share your thoughts below!