At the end of the ceremony, there are 3 important announcements we want to make to the guests in our closing remarks.
Most of all, we want to keep this part short and sweet. A drawn-out, detail-filled instructional at the end of the ceremony will drain the primed-and-ready-to-party atmosphere out of the room. On the other hand, omitting basic information will lead to unnecessary confusion and chaos as guests aren’t sure what to expect next.
In terms of when to squeeze these in, I find that these Closing Remarks go best when we come back to centre after the Signing of the Registry and right before we conclude the ceremony with the Presentation of the Couple for the very first time.
Here are the 3 brief announcements we need to make to guests in our Closing Remarks so the energy stays high and everyone knows what to do next.
1. Tell guests what the newlyweds are doing next
Okay, but we don’t want to get too specific here. Ahem.
In the wedding workshop with my couple 4-6 weeks before the wedding, I always ask them what they will be doing after they head down the aisle. Essentially, they’re either leaving or staying, so this announcement is simply Option A or B.
Option A: the couple are leaving.
In this case, I’ll simply say, for example, “Ashley and Steve are heading out briefly for photos and will rejoin us shortly,” and then move on to Announcement #2.
(I almost always say, “…for photos,” even if that’s not 100% the case. But when we say that they’re stepping out for photos, no one asks. It’s not like we wanna say, “Ashley and Steve need a breather from all you people, but they’ll rejoin us shortly,” right?)
Option B: the couple are staying.
Sometimes this will take the form of a receiving line. Sometimes they’re just the first to the bar. So here, as with Option A, we’ve told the guests what the newlyweds are doing (i.e. “Ashley and Steve would love to immediately greet each of you in a receiving line at the back of the room,”) and then we move right into Announcement #2.
2. Tell guests what’s next for them
So we’ve told the guests what the couple are doing next so they’re not all mumbling among themselves, “Where are Ashley and Steve?”
Announcement #2 of the Closing Remarks is of the utmost importance for helping a room of 50, 100, 250 people flow smoothly into the next part of the day. And in this case, yes, we get specific: what’s next for the guests?
There are actually 3 parts to Announcement #2: where guests need to go, what they can expect when they get there, and roughly how long that part will last.
Whether the couple are leaving or not, all the guests are invited to go somewhere next.
Pro-tip here: we phrase this as an invitation, not an order. Not: “Please go now to the such-and-such.” After all, nobody has to do anything here.
So I always invite guests into the next part. “Guests are now invited back out the rear doors and into the mezzanine…” See? So much less aggressive!
After we’ve told the guests where they are invited to go, we want to tell them what they can expect when they get there.
The important thing here is not to over-promise and underdeliver.
Meaning, we don’t want to say, “…for caviar and charcuterie,” and when they get there it’s only beer. Or to say “cocktails!” and it’s only wine. Not that this is a catastrophic problem, but remember: the purpose of our announcements here is to eliminate confusion and facilitate a smooth transition. To take away a sense of powerlessness.
So in the wedding workshop with the couple, I always ask, “Is it drinks and hors d’oeuvres?” and “What drinks can folks expect?”
Again, our announcement here is literally just a couple of sentences, but we want to be as accurate as possible. We don’t want guests saying, “Where are the friggin’ sausage rolls the officiant promised us?” when there’s really only a beer keg in the corner.
Finally, we want to give the guests a general sense of how long it will be, and what’s coming up after that.
There’s likely a next after the next. That is, guests are probably invited to another phase of the day after the thing we’re inviting them to now. A cocktail hour might be followed by dinner; a group photo might be followed by a drive to a park… that kind of thing.
Just as I wrote in my post about how to run a fun and successful wedding rehearsal, no one enjoys feeling trapped in an activity with no sense of how long it’ll take or if and when it will end.
So I always ask the couple in our wedding workshop what’s coming up after the next thing for their guests. And I ask them, “Do you want me to mention a specific time when that happens, or should we just keep it to a general ‘sometime after that’ or ‘shortly afterwards?'”
Again, this is just a little phrase at the end of our announcement, but it’s hugely helpful for the guests to not feel stuck and saying to each other “How long do we have?” “Do I have time for a smoke?” “Can I whip out to the mall real quick?”
If there’s something coming up after the very next thing, now’s a great time to tell them. For example: “…with the reception to follow shortly after that.”
3. On behalf of the couple, thank guests for coming
With those 2 important logistical pieces out of the way, we want to wrap up Closing Remarks with a thank you to all the guests on behalf of the happy couple.
I always wrap up by asking guests if they can do something for me: can they party as hard tonight as these two are in love? It’s usually answered with a hardy “YEAH!” and a cheer. Because, as I’ve posted before, anytime we ask guests a question, they’re thrilled to be included and respond in kind.
(Bonus!) 4. Tell guests to post photos with a hashtag
You know how in school you always heard that there are 5 vowels, but 6 too? “A, E, I, O, U… and sometimes Y.”
(Do they still teach that?)
Well, this is like that.
There are 3 announcements – SOMETIMES 4! – to make at the end of the ceremony.
In my wedding workshop with the couple, I always ask them two things related to a hashtag.
First, I ask them if they have a hashtag for their wedding’s social media posts.
Sometimes it’s the first they’ve thought about it. Which is great! That’s why we do the workshop 4-6 weeks before the wedding.
Sometimes they say they don’t care to make one. Fine. But if they do, then I ask them to tell me what it is, and I enter it into the “closing remarks” section of my notes.
Second, if they do have a hashtag, I ask the couple whether they’d like me to announce it at the end of the ceremony.
Now, we do want to end the closing remarks with that “thank you,” not a hashtag announcement. So if they say yes, I slip it in between Announcement #2 and #3; between the “now you’re invited to…” and “thank for celebrating with us today!”
Simple as that!
“And now, everyone please stand with me; it’s my honour and privilege to present to you for the very first time…!”