We all love our grans and granddads, and you may even be lucky enough to have great grandparents at your wedding. What’s more, older wedding guests love being a part of the day, and they’ll want to be involved as much as possible.
Sadly, they may not be quite as hale and hearty as they used to be. Dodgy hips, bad eyesight, poor hearing and all the other concerns that old age brings may play a part in making them feel a bit more fragile than they used to – although you may have grandparents well into their eighties who hit the dance floor and stay there for much of the night!
You’ll want your grandparents to have the best time possible on the day, so you’ll need to think about their particular needs during the planning process.
First off, older people tend to feel the cold more and churches aren’t always the warmest places – consider having some blankets and shawls at hand in your chosen wedding colours to stave off the chill. Any little ones attending will probably be thankful for this too!
The wedding ceremony itself is probably going to make many of your guests shed a happy tear. If you know some of the older guests have a bit of trouble hearing, try and put them near the front or near a speaker so that they won’t miss anything stuck at the back. It’s also a good idea to put them at the end of a pew or row of chairs so they get a good look at the bride coming down the aisle and can get in and out of their seat easily.
If you have guests in wheelchairs, check with your ceremony venue to see what facilities are available, and decide on where the wheelchairs will be situated during the service.
The elderly may also need some assistance with transport for getting to your wedding ceremony. Ask beforehand if they need some help getting there and back home again and sort lifts accordingly – this is a good job for the chief bridesmaid and best man to co-ordinate.
Coming out of the church, paths may be a bit slippery in winter and wet weather, so make sure strong arms are offered – again, the best man and groomsmen can step in here. The last thing you want is somebody slipping and breaking something! Umbrellas should also be available to shelter beneath if necessary.
We think wedding transport from the ceremony to the venue is always a good idea – particularly if you’re getting married in a city centre church where parking is likely to be tricky. Get your guests to park at the reception venue first, then transport them to the ceremony and back to the reception afterwards. Look into booking a coach (or a red double decker bus for added style!) to whisk your guests directly to the venue.
Choosing your venue
If you’re going to have some old and infirm people at your wedding, think about your choice of wedding venue before you make any decisions. For example, holding your reception in a lighthouse or a tree house may not be the best idea!
Most venues nowadays have good disabled access, which is helpful for the elderly, even those who aren’t in wheelchairs – just make sure there is an accessible toilet on the same level as the reception, so nobody has to navigate stairs.
If you’re having drinks and canapés before sitting down to the wedding breakfast, make sure that there’s room for the older folk to sit and relax – many won’t welcome the prospect of standing up for an hour or so.
“What did you say dear?”
After the wedding breakfast and speeches are over, you may need to clear some of the guest tables away from an area so that the band or DJ can set up and to create room for dancing.
It would be considerate to make sure that there’s somewhere comfortable for older wedding guests to relax and chat without it being too noisy. Find a corner of your venue where you can create a chill-out zone; it might be a room off the main party area or a comfortable hallway. If there’s a roaring log fire nearby in winter so much the better – or in summer, a cool shaded spot outside would be perfect if the weather is good.
Make sure tea and coffee is at hand – and this would be a good place to set up a sweetie table too, or allow guests to help themselves to wedding cake. If people have to stay in the main room and compete with the band to be heard, they aren’t going to relax and have a good time – and that goes for the young as well as the old, so bear it in mind.
Finally, when the evening draws to a close, make sure that taxis are ordered and lifts sorted (again, this is a job for the best man and chief bridesmaid) so that everyone gets home safely.
And lastly, we think it’s lovely if you send your grandparents a framed photograph of you together on your big day – they may not be big on digital photography and keeping photo albums on an iPad – so send a snapshot the old-fashioned way. They’ll love it!
If you’re looking for the perfect photo opportunity with your grandparents, why not take a look at our Wedding Photography section for inspiration?