Moving guests from one location to the next at a wedding is often one of those details that's overlooked until the day of the event. Though some couples opt for pre-made signage, others may rely on a DJ or loud family member to announce that it's time to move to the next space. Instead of leaving it to a last-minute decision, learn about some of the most effective and efficient ways to move your guests, then figure out which tactic makes the most sense for your party. A pre-wedding tip? Notify guests that they'll be moving from one place to another via your wedding website, so they'll know what's coming on the big day.
Appointing a few key staff members to lead the way is a gentle approach to crowd management. You can organize something with the catering team that's as subtle as a few waiters with trays of Champagne along the walkway to act as human arrows. Maybe they point guests in the right direction, or gently let them know that it's time to move to the next space. By speaking softly to small groups of people and letting them know it's time to make their way, you can avoid the anxiety-provoking yell or loud announcement many hosts dread.
Close the Bar
When it's time to move guests from cocktail hour to dinner, a good way to give them the signal to move on is through a slow closing of the bar. The bartender should be able to make a drink for a guest who asks for it, but they should then encourage the attendee to move on to the next space.
Use Announcements Sparingly
If you've attended a wedding where the DJ was constantly giving directions over the microphone, you've probably noticed how ineffective this tactic can be. If there's too much talking, it tends to get drowned out in a big crowd. Instead, you might ask your officiant to say a little something prior to the end of the ceremony that mentions where cocktail hour or the reception will take place. This is usually a more candid audience.
Rely on Social Cues
While you can't rely solely on social cues to get a crowd moving, they are a helpful tool in addition to one of the above options. Most guests get wrapped up in conversation and may not pay much attention to directions, but they will pay attention to where other guests are going. For example, if the wedding party knows where to head for cocktails after the ceremony and they lead the way, most guests will follow without a word ever being spoken about it.
When to Use Signage
While it may seem cute or charming in photos you've seen of weddings past, signage arrows are often unnecessary at weddings. Most venues have fairly clear walkways leading to ceremony areas and the rest of the event usually follows a good flow from there if you establish human arrows and make the flow easy for guests to spot. The one thing that can be difficult for guests to find, and may often call for signage, are the restrooms. If it's not easy to spot them, you might use removable stickers for interior walls or ask your venue if they have anything on-hand to help guide guests in the right direction.
This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.