At BKco, we use the word "tribe" to describe the people one chooses to surround themselves with. When it comes to weddings, it is the nearest and dearest to the couple. In more intimate weddings, it becomes every person that is invited. It is important to be realistic and honest when thinking about what your tribe is like, and how they will act on wedding day. While the well-worn cliche is that a wedding day is meant to appease any whim of the couple, the honest truth is that if your guests refuse to participate in the plans you have laid out, the party won't be much fun.
In New Orleans, we have a fabulous tradition in the second line. Many couples choose to hire a brass band and send their guests on a foot parade as part of their celebration. We have seen this be a raucous, energetic and unforgettable experience. AND we have seen this fall as flat as a deflated balloon. Are your friends and family the type to ham it up, dance in the street and engage with strangers? Or are they going to slink along in their high heels miserably, glancing side to side, being too self-conscious to let loose?
For destination weddings, location is another big factor to consider. Is your tribe composed of city dwellers who will be comfortable on any street corner? Or is it mostly folks who live in the suburbs or country, who might literally be afraid in a city?
Giving real thought to lodging will ensure your guests are enjoying their trip outside of the wedding as well. Would your friends and family hang all night on Bourbon street? Or would they prefer to have a quintessential, quiet, southern experience in a well-appointed uptown bed and breakfast?
To us, one of the biggest things to think about is the dancefloor. If you will certainly have a ton of dancers (like Jaquita and Carlton pictured above) then be sure the dance floor is ample. In a different scenario, maybe you love to dance, and 10 of your friends do, but most of your invited guest list prefers to sit and chat. Instead of dedicating a massive dance floor to sit empty all night, why not surround a smaller dance floor with seating so those who don't dance can still be close to the couple, and the room will feel full. On another side, maybe you hate dancing, but that doesn't mean your guests won't want to boogie a little bit!
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself about your tribe when planning your party:
What does my tribe eat?
For example, a pig roast isn't appropriate if more than 25% of your guests are vegetarian
How much does my tribe drink?
This is especially important if you decide to BYO, but also can determine how "into" late night activities guests are. Also, if you have a big drinking crowd, a late night pass of fatty or fried foods is a life saver
Does my tribe like to dance?
And if so, to what type of music? I created a hip-hop playlist for my sister's wedding (by her request) only to find out that her fiance's entire family only wanted to hear Van Halen, oops!
How well does my tribe know each other?
Perhaps if most people are just meeting, a welcome party would be a good icebreaker
How well does my tribe know the city?
What does my tribe expect, and how can I shift those expectations?
This especially applies to important cultural or family traditions
Does my tribe like surprises or are they more traditional?
Thinking about your tribe will guide you to a wedding day that will make everyone comfortable and happy, which in turn will make the day seamless, stress-free, and remembered for a lifetime.