29 Jun Reception Do’s and Don’ts

As a wedding planner, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of receptions. It’s truly special to see a couple enjoy their well-deserved party, but a good reception needs as much forethought and care in planning as the ceremony. Here are my “do’s and don’ts” to making your reception a perfect time for you, your new spouse, and your cherished guests.

  • Do allow time to eat as a couple. Even if you have a sit-down dinner, you’ll still need a little private time before you join your guests without interruptions. It’s lovely to share your first meal together as husband and wife, and you’ll need the energy for the reception’s drinking and dancing still to come.
  • Don’t divide and conquer to thank your guests – stick together and work the room as the newly wedded couple you are!
  • Don’t forget to schedule time for post-ceremony photography. You’re relaxed and happy at that point, giving the photographer more chances to capture the “real you.” My couples often say these more casual photos are usually their favorites.
  • Do stay hydrated. Be sure to consume plenty of water in addition to your chosen alcoholic beverage throughout the reception to ensure you remember your celebration fully and don’t feel the ramifications quite as significantly the next morning.
  • Don’t drink too much! Enough said.
  • Do consider a variety of options for food. Offering something for everybody is important to making your guests feel welcome. For example, offer real vegetables (not mac and cheese!) for your vegetarian guests.
  • Don’t skimp on lighting. Lighting makes your photos great and transforms your reception into a romantic environment. By adding uplighting, pinspots, and abstract patterns to the ceiling, walls, and floor, you’ll create a magical space that is sure to delight everyone. This is one area I tell my couples to just trust me on. The proof is always in the pudding.
  • Do introduce your wedding party as couples (bridesmaid with groomsman) and share a couple of sentences about them (keep it family appropriate!). This engages your guests and gets them primed and ready for when you and your new hubby are announced and head to the dance floor.
  • Don’t go with just one type of music. Offer your attendees a variety of tunes to boogie down to, mix the classics with recent hits, and just in general give everyone something to enjoy.
  • Do get on the dance floor and boogie! Your guests will follow your lead all night. Work the room quickly and politely, of course, thanking your guests for coming, but then make your way to the dance floor as soon as possible. Chances are that band and/or DJ was not cheap so go get your money’s worth.
  • Don’t schedule departing for your honeymoon early the next morning. Most destinations have early morning flights and trust me, you will be tired and possibly hungover from the night before. Try to leave on Monday morning for a Saturday wedding. In addition to giving you and your new spouse time to recover from the wedding stress, you’ll have more time to spend with loved ones who have possibly traveled great distances to celebrate with you both. Day after wedding brunches are very popular these days and you’ll also have time to arrange the return of the rental suit and hand off your gown to whomever will handle getting it to the cleaners while you are gone.
  • Do be sure to have to-go food sent with you at the end of the night. And don’t forget the cake and other treats! You both will be starving when you get to your wedding night location, so having foods and treats from your reception to spread out with a honeymoon picnic is just the ticket.

Photo credit: Kelli + Daniel Taylor Photography

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