by Sarah Makhluf for Synapse Entertainment, a Cleveland-area DJ company specializing in weddings.
Today we’re talking about what millennial wedding guests like and don’t like about receptions. If you’re planning a wedding with millennial guests, things will probably look a little different than they used to.
Millennial couples are all about creating an experience for their wedding guests during their reception. Once traditional parts of a wedding reception like long toasts or sitting down during dances are becoming less critical as the focus shifts to a more party-like environment. Originality is key at any millennial wedding. The more unique, the better.
But how do you know what’s important to your guests? Should you focus your budget on flowers or food? Are wedding favors necessary? How many of your guests are looking forward to dancing the night away? Read on to learn what reception trends are the most important according to millennial wedding guests.
What do Millennial Guests Want at Weddings?
Ensuring that your guests leave your venue happy is a huge part of planning your big day. While the love birds will always be in the spotlight, your guests are an essential part of a memorable wedding experience.
The two most important things during a wedding reception, according to millennial guests, are the food and the entertainment. Check out some other millennial wedding likes and dislikes below.
- Most millennials say that lousy music or a bad DJ is the 3rd most hated aspect of a wedding reception, just behind wasted guests and not knowing anyone.
- Dances, decor & lighting, entertainment (photobooths, props), and the couple’s entrance rank highly on the scale of things millennials enjoy at weddings.
- Dancing is extremely important to wedding guests. According to a WeddingWire survey, dancing was the fourth thing that guests were most excited about at weddings. Check out the stats below.
How Important is Dancing According to Wedding Guests?
- All Respondents: 41%
- Millennials: 46%
- Gen X: 31%
- An open bar is also vital to millennial guests. Consider keeping the bar open throughout the entire reception.
- Millennial guests don’t want to sit down during a reception. They would rather be part of the celebration than watch from the sidelines.
- Don’t make guests wait too long to get the party started. Your reception should begin shortly after your ceremony to keep up the momentum for the whole evening.
- Smaller/medium weddings (around 150 guests) are more popular among Millennials than large weddings (around 400 guests).
“Millennial couples are all about creating an experience for their wedding guests during their reception.”
How to Create a Millennial-Friendly Wedding Reception
If the majority of your guests were born after 1981 and before 1996, they’re most likely going to want to dance during your reception. Nothing kills a happy vibe like bad music.
Hiring a great wedding DJ can make or break your big day. Almost 50% of millennial wedding guests say that music and dancing are one of the things they look forward to the most about attending a friend or family’s big day. So your wedding DJ should be flexible, experienced, and able to feel the room to ensure everyone is having fun.
What Role Does a DJ Play at Your Wedding?
Your wedding DJ is essentially responsible for starting the party and keeping it going throughout the reception.
Here’s a list of the most critical roles a DJ has during your big day.
Music – Of course, the DJ is in charge of playing songs that will keep guests on their feet during the party. Your DJ should consider who your guests are, what style of music they like, and incorporate songs that will resonate with them.
Decor – Whether you decide to do centerpieces or flowers, one thing you’re going to need to consider is the lighting at your venue. Not all wedding venues have good lighting. Your wedding DJ can provide special lighting to help set the tone and mood of the evening.
Entertainment – Photobooths or selfie stations are huge at millennial weddings. For most guests, having a printout photo is super meaningful. A lot of wedding DJs can provide photo booths, so be sure to ask your local DJ if they offer any fun add-ons.
Couples Entrance – Walking into your reception for the first time as a married couple is one of those long-standing traditions that millennials are still enjoying. The DJ is responsible for announcing your entrance and setting the tone for the rest of the party.
Millennials Vs. Other Guests
Of course, you’ll want to cater to all of your guests. So, where do Gen Xers and Boomers land? Your Generation X guests are more likely to check out your reception decor, while Boomers will probably focus on the open bar. Millennials also care about having an open bar, but they’re more inclined to personalized drinks like a custom couple’s cocktail, where Boomers will stick to classics.
Here’s a generational breakdown of the top three things wedding guests are most excited about.
- Being there to celebrate with the couple. All: 68% Millennials: 63% Gen X: 73%
- Enjoying free food. All: 50% Millennials: 52% Gen X: 42%
- Dancing. All: 41% Millennials: 46% Gen X: 31%
Why Should You Care About What Your Guests Want?
It’s your big day, after all. While you and your spouse will remain the center of attention, knowing what people are looking forward to can help you figure out where you should put your efforts and budget. For example, you may want to allocate a large portion of the budget to food and entertainment and less on the decor.
If the majority of your wedding guests are millennials, it’s helpful to know what they want to see at a wedding reception. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating lifelong memories.
What’s Not Important to Include During Your Reception?
Planning a wedding is hard. You might be hung up on certain ‘old school’ traditions that may not be necessary or meaningful for your big day. For example, the classic cake smash may have been the thing to do a few years ago, but more couples care less about the quirky photo and more about keeping a clean face for the rest of their wedding party. Some couples are even ditching the cake altogether for ice-cream carts, donut walls, cake buffets, or candy stations. Millennial couples strive to have their guests experience something new.
Another thing you can cross off the list is party favors. While they are cute at the moment, your guests will appreciate the experience they had at your wedding a lot more than a little trinket.
When Should You Book Your Wedding DJ
“The two most important things during a wedding reception, according to millennial guests, are the food and the entertainment.”
As we mentioned above, music and dancing are some of the most important parts of any millennial wedding. A good DJ will make adjustments on the fly to help ensure your reception flows perfectly.
To avoid any reception mishaps, be sure to book your wedding DJ around 9 to 12 months before your big day. Then, work with your DJ leading up to your wedding day. Let them know what kind of music your guests like if there are any special requests, and ask about extras like lighting.
Now that you know what millennial guests want to see at wedding receptions, it’s time to start planning!
Here is the list of things millennials love and hate about wedding receptions. It was compiled by Anne Chertoff from Wedding Wire after talking with almost 1000 wedding guests. Here are some of the results she found:
Top 8 Reception Details Guests Value Most (and Are Paying the Most Attention To)
- Entertainment (photo booth/props/etc.)
- Couple’s entrance
- Reception location (setting, area)
Top 10 Overall Pet Peeves for Guests at Weddings (in Order from Most to Least Obnoxious)
- Drunk guests
- Not knowing anyone else at the wedding
- Bad music and/or DJ
- Traveling far or to an inconvenient location
- Having to sit and/or mingle with strangers
- The cost of travel/accommodations
- No open bar and/or dry wedding
- Wedding toasts (i.e., too long, bad speech, etc.)
- Needing to take time off work (9 percent)
- Sitting through all the dances (i.e., first dance, parent-child, etc.)
Top 8 Reception Details Guests Value Least (and Are Paying the Least Attention To)
- Escort cards
- Extra amenities (flip-flops, toiletries)
- Bouquet or garter toss
- Couple’s grand exit
- Table settings
The 8 Things Wedding Guests Are Most Excited About (Broken Down by Generation)
- Celebrating the happy couple All:68% Millennials: 63% Gen X: 73%
- Catching up with friends/family All:63% Millennials: 60% Gen X: 65%
- Free food All:50% Millennials: 52% Gen X: 42%
- Dancing All:41% Millennials: 46% Gen X: 31%
- An excuse to dress up for the night All:36% Millennials: 38% Gen X: 28%
- Meeting new people All:32% Millennials: 31% Gen X: 27%
- The bar All:30% Millennials: 30% Gen X: 41%
- Visiting a new location All:27% Millennials: 31% Gen X: 20%