The wedding reception is going to be a large part of your day, and probably the part your guests will enjoy the most. After a beautiful ceremony, you will want to offer a delicious meal, entertaining speeches and a party to remember! This is another thing you can personalise to suit your style and budget, and much depends on your choice of venue. Choose a venue you will comfortable in, and remember that you will likely want to have as many loved ones near as possible, so budget in for numbers as well as luxury.
The usual wedding itinerary means a wedding breakfast for the guests, followed by champagne and the speeches, giving of gifts to the wedding attendants and reading of telegrams. The reception then goes into a second stage as an evening event, with further guests arriving and music/entertainment. If you can, provide your guests with details of accommodation at the venue or locally so that they can really let their hair down and enjoy your big day!
Once you have booked your venue, the real organisation begins. A lot of smart venues these days employ a special events organiser who will help you to make the most of the day. You will also be able to discuss menus, drink decisions and their capacity for numbers and entertainment. Choose a menu that pleases you, but remember that you do need to cater for all – ask for any dietary requirements to come back with the RSVP’s for your invitations and let your caterer know if they will need to have some ideas on standby. The same applies to drinks – it is acceptable to provide wine only and champagne for the toasts, but don’t forget that there needs to be non alcoholic options available. If you are inviting children, it’s a lovely idea to provide a kids option too – perhaps a fruity, no alcohol cocktail. A useful idea is to leave some money behind the bar, and then when that is gone, the guests can pay for their own. A running buffet or canapés later in the evening are an ideal choice to stop the guests getting too hungry – again as it is a long day it will provide another dimension for your day guests, and don’t forget those who will be attending the evening only – don’t cater just for those who have been at the meal! Don’t serve the evening food too late either – it may not seem like long to you since the wedding breakfast but if the wine has been flowing it can seem like a very long wait for your guests.
Speak to the venue about decoration as there will be lots of pictures of the event and you will want to personalise. Some venues offer a certain amount of decoration as part of your package, while others may offer the service as an extra or allow you to decorate yourself. The top table will look amazing with good lighting and decorations, but be careful to make sure you can see the guests over the table decoration! Helium balloons, flowers and table confetti are all easily available and can make for a striking but simple table setting. Consider too that you can order your menus, place settings and favours to match your invitations and overall colour scheme which will keep the decoration coordinated.
The seating plan can be a minefield, especially in today’s society with remarriages and step families. The sensible plan is simply to use your common sense and avoid any placements which are likely to result in awkwardness, and don’t stick to traditional layouts at the cost of your guest’s enjoyment. If you know there will be difficulties, then involve your parents in assembling the plan as it will make them feel wanted and give you a better idea of who not to place next to who! Sometimes a children’s table can be very helpful for the older children and can also avoid any difficulties arising from step family situations.
Keep your entertainment lively, and remember that the guests will usually be there for a lengthy period of time – if you really are keen on a specific entertainment for example an Elvis impersonator, then go for it, but remember that you will probably also want a band or DJ to keep the atmosphere and provide some variety. A surprise is always a fabulous idea to keep the reception lively – perhaps fireworks on the lawn? Whatever you do to make your reception memorable for you and your guests, make sure you have the time to enjoy every second, and remember the cardinal rule – it’s YOUR wedding day, so do try to spend plenty of it together!
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