Ah, the time to plan an unforgettable wedding reception is at hand. This is supposed to be the carefree and fun post-ceremony celebration that will leave your guests saying admirable things about your wedding for years to come.
You survived making it to the venue on time, managed to get down the aisle in one piece and remembered your vows. You got through your version of the receiving line and spent hours with the photographer. By the time the anticipated reception begins, most people are ready for some great food and groovy music to kick off the evening.
Besides the Groom finally being able to loosen his tie a bit and the Bride finally being able to let her hair down, there are a few details to consider in order to keep you and your guests happy and entertained.
Having a zillion people milling about during cocktail hour, unsure where they should be going, which way the bathroom is and where they will be sitting for the night can create chaos. Have a seating plan posted at the entryway to your reception hall.
If you have a DJ or MC hosting your wedding, ask them to make a few announcements. Letting the guests know where the washrooms are located, where they are allowed to enjoy a celebratory cigar and where they are sitting for the night can keep the atmosphere smooth and relaxed.
If you are having a gift table or a special mailbox/birdhouse/wicker basket for receiving cards; ensure the area is well marked and that the guests are informed. If you have ushers greeting guests at the reception, have them pass on these details when they see Aunt Edna struggling with a cumbersome gift. Your guests will feel comfortable and attended to if the basic details are covered.
Additional Wedding Reception Organization to Consider:
- Refreshments: Have enough space for the bar area and keep it situated in a smart location. You don’t want to set things up in a crowded hallway and have guests bumping into each other, spilling their red wine.
- Photo Booth and Guest Participatory Activities: If you are expecting all of your guests to sign a picture frame with permanent marker or put their fingerprints on a personalized family tree, be sure they know about your expectations. Add this info to any wedding program or have signs posted on bathroom mirrors and near your seating plan. Alternatively, you could have a note on the table as well.
- Table Numbers/Menus/Place Cards: Having a seating plan can be a headache to organize. It is not always necessary. You can simply make seating arrangements by family name, birthday month or any other creative way you choose. Of course, leaving it up to your guests is another option; depending on the size of your wedding.
- Guest Favors: People have travelled a long way, potentially booked time off of work and have to spring for a hotel stay. Saying thank you from the heart is a nice touch.
If everyone is to receive a homemade bottle of wine, you may wish to set this up ahead of time. Choosing to have smaller items laid out per table setting (think box of chocolates) is another option. If you find thank you gifts are cluttering up the tables or are considering larger items (like a bottle of wine) have this set up on its own table near the entry/exit doors of your reception area. Guests will be leaving at different times. Incorporate your thank you’s into your speeches and ask each guest to pick one up when the night is over.
Program To Keep the Night On Schedule: If you have a timeframe for cocktails, speeches, the Father Daughter Dance, the Mother and Son Dance, cake cutting, fireworks, garter and bouquet throwing, consider printing out a copy for each table. This enables you to take care of the formalities early on in the evening and have time to dance the night away. If going with the flow is more of your laid back style; skip this step altogether.
Special Songs: Meet with your DJ ahead of time to determine your music selections. Keep the night fun by encouraging guests to request songs if the DJ is open to that. Some people ask for a song request list with their RSVP and that way, they can provide the DJ a list of guest-requested songs months in advance.
Ambiance: Figure out what look and feel you are going for when it comes to the reception. If soft and romantic is your theme, consider battery operated tea lights and white LED Christmas style lights overhead. If a vibrant nightclub atmosphere is what you are seeking, discuss lighting packages with your DJ.
Most importantly, have fun! Don’t stress and be sure that you enjoy your wedding reception!