Don’t let your wedding planning stop at the end of the wedding ceremony. From your wedding dinner to the last minute of your wedding reception, there are steps you can take to take your wedding reception to the next level—for you and your guests.
Select a wedding venue that fits everyone—comfortably.
The term “sardines”—as in “we’re crammed in here like sardines”—should not be used at your wedding, unless to describe delicious appetizers. When searching for a wedding reception venue, ask your prospective venues about the amount of guests they can hold comfortably—as well as these other questions that can help you find the perfect wedding venue.
Don’t make your guests pay an arm and leg for parking.
If you want to be a gracious host, don’t make your guests worry about finding parking or paying a lot for parking. Select a wedding venue with free parking. If you do hold your wedding reception at a location with limited parking, or there is a fee for parking, include the information and parking information in your invitations.
Roll out the red carpet for your guests.
Set the scene for your wedding reception with welcoming touches for your guests (we’ve suggested a few in our recent post). Start by giving your guests all the information they need on your invitations or wedding website, and continue with decorations, signs, and gifts as they enter your wedding venue.
Create the “awe” in awesome.
From your décor to your first dance, add unexpected surprises throughout your wedding reception. A change in uplighting as the night goes on, a choreographed first dance, an unexpected entertainment act, a fun transition after a meaningful dance that gets everyone out on the floor—it all adds up to a fun night that keeps your guests on their toes. Pick surprises that are uniquely you!
Plan a fun (and flexible) time line.
No one likes to be kept waiting, including your wedding guests. Plan out your wedding reception so the events keep moving, such as from the dinner to cake cutting to dance. If you are holding your wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue, choose a venue that can host both seamlessly so your guests don’t have to wait for tear down and set up.
Keep the toasts and speeches to a minimum (or at least minimal time).
We all love to hear from the maid-of-honor, father-of-the-bride, best man and….but don’t let the list of your toasters get too long—and ask them to keep their speech length to a minimum. You don’t want to tax your guests’ patience, or interrupt their good time, because of endless speeches.
Plan entertainment for your youngest guests.
Kids need to be entertained too, so make sure you include them in your wedding planning. Coloring books, bubbles, children entertainers, face painters…the sky’s the limit when it comes to options to keep your youngest guests amused (and make their parents very grateful).
Entertain, entertain, entertain.
DJs, bands, photo booths, interactive food tables…the options for wedding reception entertainment are endless. Seize every opportunity to entertain your guests, but don’t overdo it. Just have fun!
Make sure the food doesn’t stop at dinner.
If you want your guests to keep going all night, fuel them up with appetizers and small meals throughout your wedding reception. Discuss your options with your caterer during wedding planning; many caterers offer dishes specifically for later courses.
Don’t be afraid to lean on experience.
To capitalize on best-use practices and ask for wedding reception ideas, choose a wedding venue with a wedding planner on staff. At the very least, ask your wedding venue staff for ideas. Their suggestions can turn your vision for an awesome wedding reception into an awesome reality.