Host Couples, Do You Need Them?

What is a host couple? What do they do? Do I need one couple or multiple couples? Who do I ask? 

All of the above are really good questions, that I get asked on a regular basis. 

So, back in the day (prior to wedding planners, full-service catering companies and wedding design firms) a host couple was solicited to help the parents of the couple orchestrate the day. It was considered an honor to be asked to be a host.  But, honestly, I chuckle because historically, it isn’t a position I would want to wish upon my worst enemy.  How fun is it to schlep wedding party items from one place to another? Or, pull down ceremony décor and transfer it to the reception? And, then when you get to the reception, start releasing the tables for the catering company. Translation:  You’re an unpaid staff member who “works” the event; gets fed last and can’t really relax and have fun.   And, to be honest, I suppose “back in the day” there was a need for this type of help.

Here’s the deal:  It is a beautiful time to get married!!  There are many professionals who will help do the “undesirable” or rather “labor intensive” tasks of your wedding. These professionals will handle things like set up, tear down, service of the guests, movement of décor, gifts, etc.  And, I will tell you that money spent on these professionals is amongst the best money you will spend on your wedding day.    There is nothing more heartbreaking to me than watching the host couple, who are clearly important to the families of the couple, hauling heavy floral arrangements from the church to the reception. Or, packing up the remaining items of a dessert buffet, after they’ve had a long day of greeting people and running errands for the families. 

You should have a host couple, yes, you heard me; you should have one or two host couples at your wedding. They should be people who mean something to you in your life. It is nice to have one couple represent the each side of the union. People who have made a difference; always been there for you and/or watched you grow.  But, honor them instead of putting them to work.  Treat them like they ARE important.  Let them greet your guests at the church, do what I call “shake hands and kiss babies.” Give them a personal flower to wear so people know they are special to you. Put them in the front of all of your guests, standing tall and proud….and let them shine.  Don’t make them move things, clean things, set up things. Let them truly welcome your guests with a warm smile and a firm handshake. In turn, your guests will feel “taken care of, special and important.”  These warm feelings are the foundation for good hospitality.  When your guests feel comfortable (they know they are in the right spot, know where they should sit and the overall lay of the land) they will be happy.  Happy guests = success.  Happy host couples = continued long term happy friendships.

Take a look at what you are doing.  If you have host couples, make sure they are not doing the “heavy lifting” of a wedding day. This isn’t how you treat the important people in your life.  Make it fun for them, let them be the “welcoming committee” for your wedding day. And, for goodness sake, make sure to get them a wonderful little gift. This can come in the form of a favorite bottle of wine, a gift card to a nice restaurant or a personal gift you know they would enjoy.  Take care of them, show them that they mean something to you as friends.

If you choose to ignore my advice and need to have the host couple do more detailed work. Be clear with them up front on what is required of them.  As the logistics manager on the day of a wedding, it is mortifying to see a host couple learn that they need to pick up trash or check people’s coats at the reception.  I can see the disappointment in their eyes as they scramble to do what they didn’t know they had to do.  Set them up for success. Tell them what you have in mind when you ask them to take on this responsibility.  The week before the wedding, give them a very specific list of tasks they need to accomplish. This will help them feel more comfortable in their role. 

If you are a person who has been asked to be host(ess).  Help yourself by learning what is expected of you. Right now the expectations can range from “We need you to do everything” to “We want you to greet guests and make sure they feel comfortable.” Make sure you have an idea of what they have in mind so you can plan accordingly and fulfill your duties successfully.  It is an honor to be asked, so make sure you are willing to step up to the plate and make it happen for the couple.  It is also important that you understand you should be at all of the wedding related parties you are invited to, this includes engagement parties, showers, rehearsal dinners and the reception.  You will be the “welcoming face” of the wedding festivities.  It is important to be at these events so the guests get to recognize your face and understand you are there to help them.

Having host couples can be a beautiful opportunity to honor your long standing relationships.  It is a time to have someone close to you be there, in a special way, as you celebrate the love you have found.  Make sure you take care of each other and enjoy the ride!!!