Some of you may have been planning your wedding since grade school. You dream about the clothes you’re going to wear, who will be there, the food that will be served, what the cake will look like, and the colors.
One thing many brides and grooms don’t think about ahead of time, however, is the smoking situation at their reception. Depending on your social circles and geographical location, one person in every five you invite to your wedding will be a smoker.
Even if you also smoke, you are going to want to make plans for how you will handle the situation to make all of your guests comfortable—including the nonsmokers. It is far easier for everyone involved if you have clear guidelines and boundaries ahead of time, unless you want to deal with some potentially grumpy guests.
Nonsmokers are going to be uncomfortable and may leave early if they have to breathe cigarette smoke all evening; and smokers are going to feel disgruntled if they have no warning that there may be nowhere to sneak a few drags.
The good news is that there are several things you can do early in your planning to make sure everyone is having almost as good of a time as you’re having. In addition to making it clear on your invitations, you can have tobacco alternatives (like tobacco free chew) available for smokers who struggle with abstaining, and prepare signs that demarcate designated areas if they are available.
Be Clear on the Venue’s Rules
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to confirm what the rules are at your chosen venue. If your whole family is full of longtime smokers, a nonsmoking venue may not be the wisest choice. Make sure you know the smoking policy ahead of time, and confirm that they are compatible with your expectations for the big day.
Make a Note on Your Invitations
While you may fight over who to invite, you don’t need to fight over how to address the smoking issue on your invitations. Though you may want to write something like, “Dear Aunt Patty, Chain smoking at our wedding is unacceptable,” a simple “We kindly ask our guests to refrain from smoking,” should be fine.
If you are polite about it, include it as part of the printed message, and don’t make it a personal attack, your guests should be too busy gushing over their joy for you to worry about their nicotine fix. Just keep it short and sweet, but be clear what your expectations are if there will be no smoking at your reception.
Clearly Delineate a Smoking Section
Just as much of an issue as a venue that has a universal no smoking policy, is a venue that does not delineate where smoking is allowed. Let’s say you are having a quaint, classy backyard wedding.
That’s fabulous, but your smoking guests may think it’s cool to just light up anywhere. The next thing you know, you’ve got guests hacking their way through a cloud of smoke just to get to the punchbowl.
Make signs that clarify where it is appropriate for your guests to light up, so you don’t have to spend your first dance choking on cigarette smoke.
Offer Alternatives As Wedding Favors for Your Smoking Guests
We’re not saying that this is an opportunity to preach to your guests about the dangers of smoking, but it may be an opportunity to show them other options that do not include tobacco or inhaling dangerous chemicals into their lungs.
Maybe provide an assortment for guests to choose from, including vape devices if allowed, smokeless tobacco alternatives, gum, and even patches.
In addition to replacements, make sure there is plenty of gum for your smoking guests to chew and cold water for them to drink. You may even want to include a list of fun alternatives to smoking at parties to give them inspiration for other ways to cope without cigarettes for a few hours. Popsicles, frozen grapes, and tart candies are also popular distractors.
Your wedding day is one of the most exciting days of your life. You may have been dreaming of this since your childhood, and you deserve for everything to be as perfect as you always imagined it would be.
Don’t let all those hours of planning get tarnished by a fight over who is smoking where, or worse, a triggered asthma attack. In order for your day to go off without a hitch, you need to make sure you know your venue’s smoking policy.
You also want to make sure that policy, along with your expectations, are crystal clear to your guests before and during your special day. As long as you do so, everyone should be happy to comply, and you and your guests will have a blast.