A wedding according to Webster's Dictionary is a marriage ceremony usually with its accompanying festivities. A large part in the wedding day celebration is the wedding reception. The goal of the reception is for your guests to have a good time and be able to share in the happiness of the couple who just ceremonially became man and wife. If you ask, most will say the key to a great wedding is the reception. I'm including twelve ways to ensure your reception is unforgettable to your guests and leave them talking about it for months- possibly years to come.
Let me know in the comments section if you are going to or did incorporate something else fun in your wedding that other brides could use!
1. Great Entrance:
The reception starts the moment you (as a couple) are announced. Set the mood by having a unique and fun entrance. This could be dancing in as the DJ announces you, if you are sports enthusiasts have your dj announce you like a sportscaster would announce a sports team, come in differently than everyone else- if your venue has a lake, canoe in, come in via limo, or have your guests blow bubbles. I don't care how old you are, if you're given a bottle of bubbles and told to blow you instantly become five again.
2. Cocktail Hour:
While the dinner is getting the finishing touches have a cocktail hour. Allow you and your new spouse a chance to mingle with your guests. After all, you're the reason they came to this shindig in the first place. This also allows you the opportunity to thank your guests for coming and sharing in your special day, letting each one know that you appreciate them and their friendship.
3. Great Bar- Signature Drinks:
Whether or not you'll have a dry wedding or not isn't that big of a deal, what is a big deal is your setup of drinks, and your selection. Create a few signature drinks that reflect you and your spouse. These can be alcoholic or non alcoholic, but make them creative and fun.
A few great choices for the gentleman would be: Rum & Coke and Capt Morgan & Sprite (tastes like Cream Soda). For the ladies you could go with Malibu Barbies (malibu & pineapple juice), Cosmos, Cotton candy kauva, and something simple like champagne with fruit.
Non alcoholic signature drinks could be:
The Cranberry Cutie- made with cranberry juice, sprite, clementine orange juice, and lime juice.
The Mock Mojito- made with mint, lime, simple syrup, soda water, and lime wedges.
Italian soda- Always a hit and you can use a flavor that will match your wedding colors. Ingredients are simple syrup (choose a flavor), club soda, and half & half.
Flavored waters- cucumber infused water, lemon water, blueberries & orange slices. The possibilities with fruit infused water is limitless.
4. Seating Arrangements for Dinner:
Guests that come to your wedding obviously know you, but don't always know anyone else. Creating a good seating chart where conversations can be initiated between people with similar interests can definitely create a good experience for your guests. Putting a few people who may know one another at each table and complimenting the other seats at the table with similar minded people will help conversations to flow and awkward silence will be a non issue. Let your guests know where they are sitting with a seating chart upon walking into the reception area or with name placards on the tables.
5. Unique Guestbook:
Creating more interactive things for your guests to do eliminates the usual and mundane of weddings. Make a guestbook that your guests will have fun "signing."
A few ideas for guestbooks are:
Polaroid cameras- set them at the guestbook table; have your guests take a "selfie" and then display them on a clothesline display piece.
Message in a bottle- get a few bottles (wine or decanters of some sort) and have your guests write on small pieces of paper advice for the couple, inspiration quotes, funny quips, etc to open on their one year anniversary. Drop them into the wine bottle or decanter after writing.
Dictionary guestbook- set out a dictionary and have each guest circle a word that describes you as a couple. Have them sign their names near the word they circled.
The Plinko Shadowbox- Have little wooden pieces shaped as hearts, initials, etc that guests can sign and then insert into a shadowbox that can be hung on the couple's wall.
6. The Food:
Every great reception and party is known for the food. Usually when guests come to a wedding they come ready to eat and party. Make sure that you provide them with both. Ensure that you have an accurate guest count so you don't run out of food. Nothing worse than being a guest without anything to eat.
You can definitely work with a budget, and you can talk to a skilled caterer to make sure you can accommodate what you are looking for along with staying on a budget. My recommendation is to definitely find an amazing caterer as prepping food while prepping for a wedding is a difficult task and leads to too much stress on the people who should be enjoying your wedding day with you.
7. Dessert Buffet:
What's better than good food at a wedding? Not much, but having good desserts to compliment your wedding food is an awesome plus for your guests. Having the dessert bar allows them to snack and indulge on sweet treats they many not necessarily do otherwise. Examples may be:
A dessert bar with different candies your guests can take home
Chocolate covered fruit
8. Your First Dance:
Make it memorable. Whether you choreograph a nice slow song or punch it up with a silly and fun upbeat song, make it stand out. You want your guests having some sort of emotion. Smiling, clapping, laughing, crying- make it enjoyable to watch.
9. A Photo Booth:
A fun addition to any reception. This encourages people to get up and create their own fun memories of your special day. It encourages people to let loose and have fun while mingling with other party attendees. It also allows you to have some fun & silly portraits of your guests. Let's face it- most will let loose if they can "selfie."
10. Great DJ:
A dj can make a party a great party. A good dj can help liven the mood of your party, get guests involved in the celebration, and choose a selection of music to fit your guests and tone of your celebration. The worst thing that can happen at a wedding celebration is to have bored attendees- bored attendees lead to early exits. Keep your party goers entertained and interacting, this will create lasting and fond memories.
11. Day of Coordinator:
The last thing you want as a couple is to have to worry about every detail on your wedding day and making sure those details get carried out. A coordinator can ensure your wedding goes smoothly. From setting up details, coordinating where and when people need to be, to food setup and take down, to reapplying makeup touches, these day of coordinators are truly an extension of you. Create a less stressful day for you and your guests by allowing you to fully focus on your attendees vs worrying about everything being perfect. This allows you to focus on your guests and allows you to give attention to them vs the details.
12. Surprise your guests:
Shock and awe your guests with something special and unique during your reception. I've seen dances performed by the bride, a song serenading the bride done by the groom, a funny skit enacted by the bridal party, a surprise mob flash dance, a great sparkler exit, etc. Adding in fun elements throughout your reception keeps your guests entertained.
Whether you're getting married next week or next year try to incorporate some of these fun and creative tips into your wedding reception to help make your party an unforgettable one. Salem, Oregon wedding photographer, Mellissa has been photographing weddings in the Willamette Valley and beyond for several years and can ensure that should you take these tips into consideration your wedding reception will be an epic one!