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Receptions can be a blast! However, it’s important to make sure that you have your event well thought out. This is the job of your coordinator and your DJ/Band.
Weddings can get expensive and often the coordinators aren’t in the budget, but if you’re not planning on having a wedding planner throughout the whole process, at the very least you should have a day-of coordinator.
They’ll help make sure all of the decorations are set up and in the right place, the DJ and caterer are all running on time and working together and that any problems that arise will be solved, many times with you not even knowing they existed in the first place.
You’ve put in a ton of time and money planning your wedding so the coordinator is worth the extra money to ensure the day happens as you envisioned it. It will free you and groom up to enjoy the party and so you’re not worrying about what’s going to happen when the caterer is running late.
Your caterer will also play a big role in the design and set up of your event. Every aspect of your reception affects the overall outline of the evening. For example, if you’re not having a plated meal, your reception will need to be set up in a way that allows movement. Guests will need to be able to find the food stations easily, and this will encourage guests to mix and mingle.
If you are having a plated dinner, you will more than likely need escort cards, full place settings and space for all of your guests to be seated comfortably. Your coordinator and DJ can help you set up the evening so that guests won’t leave early or experience long periods of waiting for the next thing to happen.
Here are some helpful tips that will help your reception flow smoothly-
See the reception from your guests’ perspective- If you were attending your own reception as a guest, would you be excited about it? Take your guests into consideration when planning your timeline. If you have a lot of elderly guests make sure transportation to and from the reception is easily accessible, especially if they are both outdoors.
On the other hand, come to terms with the fact that you are never going to be able to please everyone. As a people pleaser myself, I know that can be difficult. Don’t skip out on something you really want to do during your reception because a couple guests might not be happy about it.
Think about the flow- Talk to your coordinator about how you can plan your reception in a way that will keep guests engaged and moving all night without too much down time. If there is a 2 hour cocktail hour before and after dinner, the guests might start getting antsy and leaving.
Personalize it- If you want to have a special dance with your grandparents and not just your parents, do it. Or if you’re not excited about the idea of first dances at all, just skip it. Make your reception a reflection of who you are and don’t feel tied to traditions. If the last 10 weddings you’ve been to all had the same layouts, decorations and events, don’t feel like you have to do those things just because everyone else is. Also, make sure you give your DJ or Band a “Do Not Play” list if there are some songs you really don’t want to hear during your reception!
Don’t stress about the details- Details and formalities can stress you out and drain your wedding joy if you’re too focused on them. Plan your centerpieces, welcome table, and guest book months before the wedding date and teach your coordinator or family friend how to set them up so that you aren’t even thinking about those things the day of! And when you get stressed about the details, think about the bigger picture of why you are doing all of this- it’s so you can spend the rest of your life with your best friend and that’s all that matters!
Reception Photography- I recommend planning your timeline so that you can have at least one hour of dancing photographed. The guests who dance during the first hour will still be dancing in the third hour. One hour of dancing will be enough time to really capture the joy of your reception!
Consider the kids- If you’re inviting kids to the wedding, consider having some activities or a fun spot for them to hang out with games and coloring books and fun seating like bean bag chairs.
Think outside the dance floor- Dancing is awesome and always my favorite part of weddings when I attend them as a guest, but you don’t have to limit it to the only activity. Have a bonfire (with s’mores of course!), yard games, board games, mad libs for the tables, giant jenga, or group games like capture the flag.
Get creative with the food- Feel free to think outside of the steak or chicken box! Try an interactive food station like a mac and cheese or mashed potato bar or opt for an ice cream sundae bar instead of a traditional cake.
No more clinking- Do you cringe when you’re at weddings and the guests are constantly clinking their glasses to get the bride and groom to kiss? Consider some alternatives! You can put it in the wedding program or make a brief announcement at the beginning of your meal. If you want to have more fun with it, you can make the guests work for it by them demonstrating a kiss first, taking a shot, answering a trivia question, singing a song or paying a dollar that you end up donating to your favorite charity (be prepared to kiss a lot if you ask for donations- People are very generous!)