21 Wedding Trends Guests Hate & What to Do Instead

Spoiler alert: No one likes a line for the bar.
Wedding guest taking picture of bride and groom during wedding ceremony
Photo: nadtochiy | Shutterstock
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
by
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Apr 25, 2024

If you're planning your wedding, you probably want your guests to have a beautiful and memorable time. This is why you may be curious about what wedding trends guests hate and love so you can try to satisfy them as much as possible (without sacrificing what you want). To give you a peek into guests' unfiltered wedding thoughts, we asked The Knot's Facebook followers and community members to spill the tea on wedding moments and trends they hate so you can avoid them. So if you're wondering, "What is the wedding trend that guests hate," just know that there's way more than one. Below, we share the inside scoop on what guests don't like, along with our tips on what to do alternatively to have the best wedding.

Long Speeches

We get it: You and your bestie have probably been planning the MOH speech since the early days. But as much as you love your inside jokes, not every person does. Guests generally don't enjoy having to sit through multiple speeches that include shared jokes, crude humor or long anecdotes that prevent them from hitting the dance floor (or worse, enjoying dinner).

What to do instead: We encourage you to have speeches at your reception if you'd like—after all, it really is fun hearing about a couple's love story from the perspective of a friend or family member. But to avoid wedding toasts monopolizing precious party time, ask your speakers to limit their sentiments to two minutes max. They can share other memories or well-wishes with you in a more private setting at another time.

Group Dances

While you might dream of having a packed dance floor for the entirety of your reception, group dances aren't always the best way to achieve it. Lots of people responded to the wedding trend guests hate question saying they don't enjoy popular wedding line dances. So when you're crafting your music requests, consider nixing tunes like the "Chicken Dance."

What to do instead: If you've hired a music pro, like a DJ or a live band, rely on their expertise to select songs that'll get the party started (and keep it going). They're wedding experts for a reason and know how to read a crowd's vibe in real time. While they likely have a lineup of go-to songs that always get people on their feet, they'll also be able to pick out songs on the fly that'll work for your friends and family. No awkward line dances required.

Long Bar Lines

Internal data shows that 46% of guests notice how the bar and drinks turn out—that's why it's no surprise wedding guests don't like long lines at the bar. They're at the wedding to celebrate with you and enjoy time with other guests, so the last thing they want to do is spend 20 minutes of precious party time waiting for a drink.

What to do instead: Work with your venue to see if it's possible to set up two bars or to offer a passed drinks service. Having more than one spot to grab a beverage will alleviate traffic jams at the bar, and it'll be a game-changer for guests not waiting for alcohol too.

Out-of-the-Way Bars

​​In the same vein, guests also don't love leaving the main reception area for drinks. The location of your entertainment is the heart of the party, and if they have to leave to grab a beverage, the wedding itself can feel disconnected.

What to do instead: Work with your venue to set up bar access in the reception space; if not, try having the beverage location as close as possible to the main space. Keeping high-traffic locations close together will make your day feel seamlessly planned out.

Garter Toss

This one likely won't come as a surprise. Although it's been a reception staple for years, guests don't always enjoy watching the garter toss. The act is incredibly intimate and can come across as awkward or uncomfortable, especially among certain cultures and in front of younger guests.

What to do instead: Luckily, plenty of garter toss alternatives exist if this tradition doesn't fit your wedding day. Consider throwing an unworn garter into the crowd without the "grabbing under the dress" situation. Or, treat your reception like a sports event and do a T-shirt toss.

Slow Food Service

We'll let you in on a secret. The best way to a guest's heart is through their stomach. According to The Knot 2023 Guest Study, which surveyed 1,000 guests who attended at least one wedding in person in 2023, 75% of attendees said food was an important wedding detail they noticed. That's why having a late dinner service is a huge turn-off for invitees, especially when there aren't a lot of hors d'oeuvres at the cocktail hour.

What to do instead: Avoid having hangry loved ones by offering dinner service shortly after the reception begins or at a reasonable dinner time. Work with your caterer or food service team to create a schedule that doesn't keep your loved ones waiting too long to enjoy a meal.

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Cheesy Wedding Favors

Some say you need wedding favors, while others argue that you can nix the whole concept, especially if it doesn't fit within your budget. If you're curious to know what guests think about the matter, we've got you covered. Many people said they don't like favors that are single to no-use items, like koozies with the newlyweds' faces on them.

What to do instead: Generally, guests enjoy gifts they can eat or use every day. So, if you're spending the money on favors, consider getting something edible or practical. Food can be a great way to highlight the location where you're getting married. You might consider giving small jars of things like syrup, honey, jam or packs of baked goods from a local shop to support the community. Or, look for items that can actually be used on a daily basis, like candles, soap, coffee bags or coasters.

No Water Outside of the Bar

One of the wedding trends guests hate that we completely agree with is not having water offered outside the bar station. Staying hydrated is key for enjoying a wedding (whether you're a guest or the to-be-wed), and guests who aren't drinking alcohol won't enjoy waiting at the bar. That's why having only the bar as a place to get water is a bad idea since it causes long lines and thirsty guests.

What to do instead: Talk to your venue about water options. See if you can have a separate water station or request the serving staff to frequently refill glasses at guests' seats. Ensuring your guests have quick access to water is one of the best ways to keep them satisfied and happy.

Late-Night Cake

Whether you're planning to serve cake or an alternative wedding dessert, like ice cream and cookies, guests will anticipate this part of the night. Don't keep your loved ones waiting when it comes to food. Another guest pet peeve: serving them a different dessert than yours. One commenter put this perfectly by saying a slice of cake for the newlyweds and cake pops for the guests aren't the same.

What to do instead: For the first trend, aim to serve the sweets midway through dancing before people start leaving. Tell your emcee to announce when dessert is available so no one misses it. Before the wedding, order a variety of desserts, but also try to have a selection that tastes similar to or is a mini version of your and your partner's personal treat if you're serving something other than a wedding cake.

Unassigned Seating

You might think guests would enjoy the option to sit where they please. But in reality, having unassigned seating at your reception can be a logistical and social nightmare. Overlooking designated spots can result in crowded spaces, an insufficient number of tables and confusion for guests and venue staff alike. Plus, for invitees who may not know a lot of other guests, it can feel awkward to insert themselves at a full table of friends or end up at a table alone.

What to do instead: After using The Knot Guest List Manager, work on your seating chart. Not only will it give you peace of mind knowing that every head has a seat, but it'll alleviate stress for guests when it's time to sit down for dinner.

An Obstructed Ceremony View

Remember, guests are going to your wedding to see you get married. Don't let your ceremony decor or seating layout overshadow the event's purpose.

What to do instead: Be thoughtful about your ceremony seating arrangements. Are there any plants, poles or structures that could block someone's view of the altar? If so, work with your planner and venue team to construct a design that gives every seat the best view possible. Another thing to consider is having an unplugged ceremony. You've hired a photographer to capture beautiful shots of you saying "I do" so there's no need for guests to have their phones out and ruin the visibility for others. Eliminating phones altogether can help ensure everyone sees clearly.

Confusing Schedules

Wedding vendors and guests agree that sticking to a schedule is one of the best ways to make your day flow smoothly. As a guest, it can be frustrating not knowing where to go, how long certain events will last or what to expect throughout the day. Big gaps between the ceremony and reception or running over schedule will leave your guests feeling overwhelmed, bored or confused.

What to do instead: We recommend working with a planner or day-of-coordinator to help craft a wedding day timeline to keep the day's events moving. Put the itinerary on your wedding website's FAQ section and paper programs to keep guests in the know.

Extended Cocktail Hours

Having a cocktail hour can be a major lifesaver, especially if you aren't going to do a first look. That chunk of time between the ceremony and reception is ideal for snapping the majority of posed photos on your shot list, and it also gives you and your spouse time to breathe. But a cocktail hour that's over an hour can be boring for some guests. Yes, it's a great chance for them to socialize while enjoying drinks and appetizers, but being in one spot for too long without many activities planned can get dull quickly.

What to do instead: As the name suggests, do your best to limit cocktail hour to an hour. You can stretch it to 90 minutes if necessary, but consider giving guests activities to do during that frame to keep them occupied. Wedding games, food and drink stations and unique wedding vendors, like live wedding painters, are all great ways to fill the time.

Uncomfortable Temperatures

There'll be some things that are out of your control on your wedding day—especially the weather. You can't predict if it'll be sunny and 90 degrees or cold and raining, so try not to stress about the climate. But remember, invitees don't want to be in miserable situations during your outdoor wedding.

What to do instead: Consider the time and location of your wedding. Will it be an outdoor ceremony in August? Provide guests with fans or novelty sunglasses. Are you swapping vows at a barn in the middle of fall? Offer blankets available in case it gets chilly at night. While guests certainly won't blame you for the weather on your wedding day, they will appreciate small gestures made to help them feel comfortable in the climate. Most importantly, keep everyone safe by having a backup plan ready to go for extreme situations, like a heatwave or bad storms.

No Reception Activities

Wedding receptions are synonymous with dancing, but that's not the only way to entertain guests. Quite a few of our readers said they love it when couples provide additional reception activities. Don't forget not every guest wants to dance the entire time, so provide them with options to make the night more memorable.

What to do instead: You don't need to go all out with expensive entertainment, but arranging different reception activities doesn't hurt. While games are an obvious way to keep people busy, you could include wedding reception activities like interactive food stations, Vegas performers, tarot card readers and more.

Lack of Direction

After they've already spent time figuring out how to find a couple's wedding website and registry, one of the top wedding trends guests hate is a lack of direction. It's human nature to want to know what's expected of you, especially at a formal event. Showing up to a venue with no idea of where to go or what to do doesn't create the best guest experience.

What to do instead: This is where that schedule comes in handy. Use your wedding website to provide detailed directions on where to go and what to do upon arrival. Then, have ushers and wedding signs near your ceremony entrance to direct guests and share any additional information they may need. Having a structured direction will prevent guests from experiencing the ambiguous sense of, "What now?"

Long Distances Between Venues

Whether they're out-of-town guests or locals, people don't like traveling for an extended time between wedding venues. The greater the distance between the ceremony and reception means a higher chance of guests being annoyed because of the possible traffic and inconvenience.

What to do instead: Keep the travel time between the ceremony and reception venues at 30 minutes or less––an hour or more is overboard. If the sites are a few miles from one another, great, but if they're more than 30 minutes away, consider providing round-trip wedding transportation for all guests.

Guests Getting Different Treatment

No one likes being treated like they're second tier on your list of invitees. Giving certain people different desserts or subpar seating isn't appropriate, even if you consider them B-list guests.

What to do instead: You need to treat your guests the same across the board. You might think since a wedding is busy and with lots of activities going on it'll go unnoticed, but it will and can inevitably cause more drama than it's worth. Unless it pertains to food allergies, dietary restrictions or accessibility, handle your attendees equally.

No Printed Programs

You might've not known this is a guest pet peeve, but your loved ones actually want wedding programs. They find this simple stationery useful during the ceremony and don't appreciate it when they're left without it.

What to do instead: Leave programs on each guest's seat or have ushers hand them out as people arrive. Wedding programs can be informative items for guests who want to know the ceremony order and fun facts about the to-be-weds. This would be the perfect opportunity to add short descriptions of any cultural or religious traditions you're including in your ceremony. Plus, a program is a nice keepsake for your loved ones.

Flash Mobs

Choreographed or flash dances are sadly a wedding trend couples love and guests hate (with a few exceptions). Our guest data revealed only 30% of guests in 2023 said they noticed the dances during the reception. Typically, responders weren't talking about the first dance but were referring to the dances done by the wedding party. There was a particular annoyance when these dances were before dinner, so consider your reception timeline carefully.

What to do instead: Choreographed dances are an important element for some cultures, like Hindu weddings. Otherwise, if your wedding party really wants to show off their moves, politely ask them to keep the routine to the length of one song (about three to five minutes). This way, your wedding party members are happy and the other guests are entertained the entire time. And for those who absolutely want a more drawn-out performance in their reception schedule, ensure you offer food before or during the dances to appease the crowd.

Unsupervised Kids

If you're having kids at your wedding, you have some responsibility to ensure they're well taken care of. Otherwise, they can get bored, resulting in rowdy youngsters disrupting wedding toasts, being on the dance floor during the first dance or sneaking pieces of the cake before the cake-cutting ceremony.

What to do instead: Have plenty of kid-friendly activities appropriate for the age groups invited to the wedding. From coloring books to board games, it's best to have a variety so the little ones don't get uninterested too quickly. Also, if you have room in your wedding budget for another vendor, consider hiring a wedding nanny in a dedicated kids' area to supervise the kids so you and their parents can relax during the festivities. Lastly, don't forget it's the parent's job to watch after their child too, so if you notice something, let them know their child or children might need more supervision.

Sarah Hanlon contributed to the reporting of this piece.

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