Your Wedding Guest Demographic

lovely backyard event

It might sound strange to break down your guest list the same way TV networks break down their audience, but hear me out.

I was recently discussing catering with my mother and described what Robert and I envisioned for our wedding day menu — basically, uber-Southern food, which we thought would fit right in with our Nashville¬†log cabin venue. Mom seemed surprised and not entirely enthused. I soon realized why: We were picturing different audiences.

When I thought of our guest list, I thought of the out-of-towners — probably because I’m an out-of-towner myself these days. In fact, part of the reason I wanted to host our wedding in Tennessee is because it’s a place I love, and I wanted to share it with those who had never seen it. But my mom was thinking of the locals, like herself. To them, Southern food is everyday food, not special occasion food.

I tell you this because realizing it helped me resolve our difference of opinions. The vast majority of our guest list is out-of-towners — many of whom are from Los Angeles with sophisticated palates. It didn’t make sense to Robert and me to serve traditional upscale food because Los Angeles is on the cutting edge of that and anything else would likely pale in comparison. Besides, it’s not like people visit Tennessee for the French food.

But as wonderful as the Los Angeles food scene is, I have yet to find a decent biscuit. So why not serve what Tennessee excels at and what guests would likely want out of their trip: Southern food. When I explained all this to my mother, she understood. As a bonus, Southern food happens to be easier on the wallet than traditional upscale catering.

So here’s your takeaway:

  1. Figure out your guest demographic: Are they primarily locals/out-of-towners, young/old, special event savvy/not-so-special event savvy, etc.? (I say the latter because it’s hard to throw a successful uber-formal event if your guests are mostly unfamiliar or uncomfortable at formal events.) Let the demographic inform the decisions you make.
  2. If you and your parents aren’t seeing eye to eye, determine if you’re focusing on different demographics. Discuss whom you both have in mind when you picture your wedding and determine whether either or both of you need to shift your focus, then move forward from there.

Photo by Frank Amodo

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