As most of you know by now, I’m a giant fan of The Knot and the wonderful content they put out for couples getting ready for their wedding day. I thought i’d share this article from them for any couple looking to make their wedding reception a more fun time!
Keep in mind, I left out a few of the secrets that really didn’t apply to my clients (Unless you hired a live band on top of me. In which case, wow.)
To read the original article, please click here!
While your wedding ceremony is both special and crucial (it’s when you’ll actually get married!), the reception is probably what you and your guests are most looking forward to—who doesn’t want to eat, drink and dance? The best celebrations incorporate personal, fun and unique touches to keep guests smiling and talking about it long after the last dance.
It sounds obvious, but don’t discount the importance of a solid seating arrangement.with people they’ll know and get along with. It might seem like a great idea to play matchmaker, or force your guests to sit with strangers to make new friends—but at the end of the day, they’re there for you, and to catch up with their own farflung pals. Put another way, a well-thought-out seating chart leads to great conversation, which leads to a great dance party, which leads to an unforgettable night. So seat your tween cousins with other kids their age and let your college friends sit together.
Wedding favors should be the cherry on top of a fabulous reception. Let your guests know how much you appreciate having them there by offering a take-home treat (think: doughnuts, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, a bag of your favorite coffee beans or jars of local honey), a cute succulent plant or a pair of sunglasses branded with your initials and wedding date.
Wedding toasts are all about quality over quantity, so ask anyone who’s speaking to make sure their toasts are no more than two minutes. If they have any longer anecdotes, they can feel free to share at the rehearsal dinner.
To keep the little ones entertained throughout the night (and to give their parents an opportunity to hit the dance floor), give them their own designated area. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter to set up and oversee movies, games, crafts or a kid-centric dance party. You can also set up a few tables topped with coloring books, crayons, games and small toys.
All eyes will be on you during your first dance—it’s the perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a fun surprise. Start with a romantic dance to “At Last,” or other classic first dance song, then suddenly switch gears to a energetic Latin dance or break it down to Bruno Mars.
Great food makes for a great celebration, but offering dishes that everyone can customize to their liking is even better. Interactive food stations, from a mac-and-cheese bar to a sushi-rolling setup, where guests can create their own ideal bites will leave you with happy, well-fed friends ready to have a good time.
Instead of a typical three-course menu of salad, entrée and dessert, stretch out dinner over four or five smaller courses (but don’t stretch it too much if you’re still hoping to get everyone on the dance floor). Plan small surprises between dishes, like a short toast from your hilarious aunt, a sweet poem from a lifelong friend or a professional performance, like a vocalist or dancer. It’ll give your guests the experience of a fun night out, complete with dinner and a show.
Let’s put it this way: You won’t have a good time at your reception if you can’t take two steps without snagging your train, right? So after the first dance, brides can swap the veil and bustle for a fabulous little white dress or jumpsuit, and grooms can change to a more relaxed suit. If you and your new spouse are comfortable enough to move freely, you’ll dance more, chat more, laugh more and eat more cake—that’ll rub off on your guests.
Sometimes the best parts of a reception are what guests don’t see coming. Surprise your loved ones with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a magician, mariachi band, aerialists or a salsa dancer.
(I’m going to take a two-second break from sharing this article and mention how important this really is, without a connection with your entertainer, they are going to do their best to please the room, but may miss some special details or moments that could’ve been next-level! Be sure to always communicate special details to your wedding vendors, and make a do not play list as well!)
Okay, this is a little more obvious, but we have to mention it because music is a major reception fun factor, and has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the DJ plays obscure songs that are hard to dance to. Talk to yourabout your do-not-play list upfront.
Whether you’ve hired a band or a DJ, if you want to keep the dance floor packed, plan a playlist that will please the whole crowd, not just you two. You may love obscure indie rock, but now isn’t the time to show off your discerning taste in music. Sure, mix in a few of your favorites, but don’t leave out the past and present hits, otherwise you risk an empty dance floor.
If your site and budget allow, set up comfortable lounge chairs and couches in your reception space. Instead of having your guests sit around the same tables all night, even after dinner’s over, a change of environment will promote conversation, give your energetic dancers a resting area and keep your nondancing guests entertained. It’s also an elegant and comfortable way to let elderly guests relax and chat while others take to the dance floor. Look into renting or borrowing couches, chairs and other furniture to create stylish, cozy vignettes complete with pillows, flowers and votive candles in your wedding colors.
A full bar is a must-have for a great reception, but take it up a notch with an interactive drink experience. A wine, beer or whiskey tasting lets guests sample different drinks and learn a few tasting notes. A hand-rolled cigar station also fits the bill, as does a make-your-own margarita bar—who could say no to that?
One of the less obvious keys to a successful celebration is movement. The best parties encourage lots of dancing, with mini breaks for mingling and snacking. For maximum dimension and circulation, divide your reception into distinct areas for dancing, drinks and chatting, and coffee and cake. Arrange a few cocktail tables near the bar, offer outdoor seating or set up a table of desserts or late-night bites.
It doesn’t get more 101 than this. Ask yourself what you’d want to eat, both as a wedding guest and in general. Love spaghetti bolognese, dim sum or tacos? Chances are your caterer can find elegant, creative ways to serve it to a large crowd. Another option is to skip the sit-down dinner altogether and pass hearty, satisfying hors d’oeuvres with cocktails.
Want a guaranteed all-night crowd? Arrange for the catering staff to bring out late-night food like French fries, pizza or doughnuts after midnight (or before, if you just can’t wait). Offer a DIY coffee bar complete with flavored syrups and toppings to keep them on their feet. If you stick with low-key favorites, your friends will never want to leave.
Here’s a secret for you: Keep guests celebrating by planning a surprise for the end of the night that everyone can look forward to. You and your new spouse can perform a song with the band for the last dance or prep a memorable reception getaway like a fireworks send-off.
Another great article from the guys and gals over at The Knot!
Hopefully it helped you get one step closer to making your dream wedding reception a reality.
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