The wedding reception is arguably as important as the wedding ceremony. Before we dive into the topic for today, I must note that some cultures view wedding receptions as different things. For the most part, it’s the event after the ceremony where everyone gets together and celebrates the marriage with food & entertainment. But, it some places, there’s a wedding meal that comes after the ceremony, followed by a reception in the evening where more guests are invited. To avoid confusion, I’m talking about the first type of wedding reception – dinner, entertainment, and dancing all night long!
What I’m about to say will sound rude, but it’s the truth; most of your guests look forward to the reception far more than the ceremony. I know, I know, it sounds a bit selfish and mean, but be honest, you feel the same way at other weddings! The reception is an opportunity for everyone to let their hair down and really celebrate this union between the happy couple. There’s not a lot you get to do during the ceremony other than sit down, stand up, and cry happy tears.
Therefore, your wedding reception needs to be on point. I could run through all the different ideas and themes you can try, but I want to take a different route. Instead, I want to ensure you don’t make some common mistakes when planning your reception. Avoid doing all of the things below, and you should automatically have an excellent reception on your hands!
Not having multiple food options
The wedding meal is what a lot of people look forward to the most. There’s a sense of excitement when you receive your invitation and get to look at the menu. However, mistakes are made when you have limited food options.
What I mean is that you may only have one main course for people to choose. Or, you only have two options. Or, even worse, you don’t have any options for different dietary requirements. Some of my friends are vegetarian and vegan, and they absolutely hate going to weddings with terrible food options for them. Surely, surely, surely, there’s a better option than just plain pasta?!
While everyone else eats a nice roast, the veggies and vegans are eating something entirely different as there’s not a suitable option. Needless to say, this leads to disgruntled guests. I’m not suggesting you need to have ten options for every course, that’s ridiculous! But, maybe two meat-based options plus two veggie options is the best way to go. This way, there are technically four dishes to choose from for most people, and the vegetarians/vegans have two legitimate things to pick as well.
In turn, you prevent some very disgruntled guests, and everyone gets to enjoy the wedding meal.
Not having any nibbles
I promise this list isn’t just food-related! As I was typing the paragraphs above, it made me think about other food at a wedding reception. Obviously, the meal is the main event. But, most people end up eating in the afternoon. Traditionally, wedding ceremonies take place in the late morning, and they’re all wrapped up by around midday – maybe an hour or so later. Then, you travel to the reception venue, wait for everyone to arrive and settle, then get ready for food. It can be 3 or 4 pm before you touch the starter.
Consequently, all your guests are absolutely starving. In fact, they’re too hungry. They’re hungry to the point where they start to complain and grumble amongst themselves. People are getting whiplash from twisting their necks to quickly check the time every five seconds. When everyone gets restless, it leads to a bad experience.
To avoid this, make sure you have nibbles around for people to snack on. It shouldn’t be anything crazy of substantial, just a few snacks that they can enjoy while they wait. Tea/coffee and biscuits are a perfect idea. Or, a few bowls of nuts, maybe some fruit, cheese and crackers – you get the idea. Now, if people are feeling peckish, then they at least have something to eat. But, it’s not too much to the point that they’re too full for dinner.
Also, put out some nibbles and party food in the evening. While the starter could be served at 3 or 4 pm, this means the meal itself will probably be over in under two hours. The wedding reception itself will go on late into the night, so people are bound to get hungry. Later in the evening, lay out platters of typical party food nibbles and small bites. It’ll keep everyone nice and satisfied.
Only having one form of entertainment
Honestly, I could write an entire article on what you should and shouldn’t do when planning your wedding reception entertainment. Oh wait, I have! It’s called the Wedding Entertainment Do’s & Don’ts, and it’s well worth checking out. In the context of this article, there’s one main mistake you should avoid; a lack of entertainment.
Some people think they can get away with just having a DJ or a band at the reception. Sure, you get people dancing all night long, but there has to be something else as well. Think about entertainment options that people can get involved with whenever they like throughout the evening. Something like a photo booth works perfectly at a wedding. It sits away at the side, and guests can make their way over whenever they like. You’ll find that photo booth hire is relatively inexpensive too, which is always a bonus. Your guests can enjoy themselves making funny poses and using loads of props – it’ll be a right laugh. All the while, you still have music playing and people on the dancefloor.
Speaking of which, you shouldn’t just rely on DJ’s or bands to make the most out of the musical entertainment. Consider other things to keep the party flowing. For example, karaoke! It’s an age-old classic, and nothing gets the laughter flowing like your drunk Aunt Brenda’s rendition of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Group dancing games also work brilliantly, and a dance competition can also make the crowd go wild.
You’ve got endless wedding entertainment options, so include a variety of things instead of just one.
Finally, we have the most common and frustrating mistake; long delays. I’ve already mentioned this (kind of) when talking about food. The delay between the ceremony and the reception can be lengthy. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about this because you do have things to do. Part of the delay is down to all the wedding photos being taken, then you may have to drive to the reception destination.
However, when you arrive, there shouldn’t be another long delay. I went to a wedding recently where we had to wait around two or three hours after the wedding photos were completed because they were getting everything ready. Everything should be set up by the time your guests arrive! Liaise with the caterers and event organisers to make sure this happens. Then, ensure there aren’t any long delays between courses, or between the meal and the evening’s activities. You don’t have to jump straight from a three-course meal into dancing and singing, but make sure something exists to bridge the gap and keep people entertained.
Long delays bring out the worst in people as everyone gets impatient. So, make sure you’ve planned the event properly and have a schedule to stick to.
If you avoid these four mistakes, then your wedding reception will instantly be much better. Basically, it’s all a case of ensuring you look after your guests and keep them happy. Yes, it’s your special day! However, you don’t want to be sat at your table smiling and laughing while everyone else has a horrible time.
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