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20 Secrets to a Fun Wedding Reception

20 Secrets to a Fun Wedding Reception - Okay, they're not really secrets—just awesome ideas we encourage you to steal.

While your wedding ceremony is both special and crucial (it's when you'll actually get married!), the reception is probably what you and your guests are most looking forward to—who doesn't want to eat, drink and dance? The best celebrations incorporate personal, fun and unique touches to keep guests smiling and talking about it long after the last dance. Get inpsired by our favorite reception ideas, from simple planning tricks to wow-worthy entertainment below.

  1.  Arrange Seating Thoughtfully

    Pink and gold place settings at outdoor wedding reception
    photo by Larissa Cleveland Photography

    It sounds obvious, but don't discount the importance of a solid seating arrangement. Place guests with people they'll know and get along with. It might seem like a great idea to play matchmaker, or force your guests to sit with strangers to make new friends—but at the end of the day, they're there for you, and to catch up with their own farflung pals. Put another way, a well-thought-out seating chart leads to great conversation, which leads to a great dance party, which leads to an unforgettable night. So seat your tween cousins with other kids their age and let your college friends sit together.

  2. Hand Out Awesome Favors

    DIY face masks of bride and groom for dance floor
    photo by Rachel Pearlman Photography

    Wedding favors should be the cherry on top of a fabulous reception. Let your guests know how much you appreciate having them there by offering a take-home treat (think: doughnuts, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, a bag of your favorite coffee beans or jars of local honey), a cute succulent plant or a pair of sunglasses branded with your initials and wedding date.

  3. Keep Toasts Short and Sweet

    Bride and groom toast guests at wedding reception
    photo by Delbarr Moradi Photography

    Wedding toasts are all about quality over quantity, so ask anyone who's speaking to make sure their toasts are no more than two minutes. If they have any longer anecdotes, they can feel free to share at the rehearsal dinner.

  4. Have a Plan for Kids

    Kids table decor at wedding reception
    photo by First Comes Love Photography

    To keep the little ones entertained throughout the night (and to give their parents an opportunity to hit the dance floor), give them their own designated area. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter to set up and oversee movies, games, crafts or a kid-centric dance party. You can also set up a few tables topped with coloring books, crayons, games and small toys.

  5. Shake Things Up for Your First Dance

    Choreographed first dance routine
    photo by The Nichols

    All eyes will be on you during your first dance—it's the perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a fun surprise. Start with a romantic dance to "At Last," or other classic first dance song, then suddenly switch gears to a energetic Latin dance or break it down to Bruno Mars.

  6. Offer an Interactive Food Station (or Two)

    Grilled cheese food station at wedding reception
    photo by The Reason

    Great food makes for a great celebration, but offering dishes that everyone can customize to their liking is even better. Interactive food stations, from a mac-and-cheese bar to a sushi-rolling setup, where guests can create their own ideal bites will leave you with happy, well-fed friends ready to have a good time.

  7. Rethink Dinner

    Farm to table small plates wedding catering
    photo by Al Gawlik Photography

    Instead of a typical three-course menu of salad, entrée and dessert, stretch out dinner over four or five smaller courses (but don't stretch it too much if you're still hoping to get everyone on the dance floor). Plan small surprises between dishes, like a short toast from your hilarious aunt, a sweet poem from a lifelong friend or a professional performance, like a vocalist or dancer. It'll give your guests the experience of a fun night out, complete with dinner and a show.

  8. Change Into Something Comfortable

    Short reception dress with feather skirt and embellished bodice
    photo by Ashley Brockinton Photography

    Let's put it this way: You won't have a good time at your reception if you can't take two steps without snagging your train, right? So after the first dance, brides can swap the veil and bustle for a fabulous little white dress or jumpsuit, and grooms can change to a more relaxed suit. If you and your new spouse are comfortable enough to move freely, you'll dance more, chat more, laugh more and eat more cake—that'll rub off on your guests.

  9. Plan Surprise Entertainment

    Acrobatic performance at wedding reception
    photo by Anne Almasy

    Sometimes the best parts of a reception are what guests don't see coming. Surprise your loved ones with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a magician, mariachi band, aerialists or a salsa dancer.

  10. Make Sure Your Band Has Great Break Music

    Bride and groom dance to wedding band
    photo by Riverland Studios

    Everyone's been to that wedding before: Just when the dance floor starts heating up, the band takes a break—and the party seems to as well. To make sure this doesn't happen at your wedding, ask potential bands how they plan to handle breaks before you hire them. Some bands will rest in shifts and split off into a smaller two- or three-piece band, while others will turn on filler music. If yours is planning on the latter, ask whether you can provide the playlist, or at least check and approve their picks before the party.

  11. Find a DJ Who Gets You

    Wedding DJ plays music at Wythe Hotel reception
    photo by Chellise Michael Photography

    Okay, this is a little more obvious, but we have to mention it because music is a major reception fun factor, and has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the DJ plays obsure songs that are hard to dance to. Talk to your DJ about your do-not-play list upfront.

  12. Play Music Everyone Can Dance to

    Reception dance floor under string lights
    photo by W&E Photographie

    Whether you've hired a band or a DJ, if you want to keep the dance floor packed, plan a playlist that will please the whole crowd, not just you two. You may love obscure indie rock, but now isn't the time to show off your discerning taste in music. Sure, mix in a few of your favorites, but don't leave out the past and present hits, otherwise you risk an empty dance floor.

  13. Have a Lounge Area

    Outdoor patio reception lounge
    photo by The Nichols

    If your site and budget allow, set up comfortable lounge chairs and couches in your reception space. Instead of having your guests sit around the same tables all night, even after dinner's over, a change of environment will promote conversation, give your energetic dancers a resting area and keep your nondancing guests entertained. It's also an elegant and comfortable way to let elderly guests relax and chat while others take to the dance floor. Look into renting or borrowing couches, chairs and other furniture to create stylish, cozy vignettes complete with pillows, flowers and votive candles in your wedding colors.

  14. Hire a Day-of Coordinator

    Bride and groom's first dance at tented wedding reception
    photo by Chennergy

    You may have a ton of fun ideas lined up for your reception, but no matter how organized you are it's much more difficult than you'd think to keep each of those plans and moving parts in check. If you already have an event planner, you're all set. If not, look into booking a day-of coordinator to oversee the details (trust us, it's worth it). Check out the different types of planners you can hire.

  15. Roll Out a Tasting Station

    Whiskey tasting station and cigar bar
    photo by Troy Grover Photographers

    A full bar is a must-have for a great reception, but take it up a notch with an interactive drink experience. A wine, beer or whiskey tasting lets guests sample different drinks and learn a few tasting notes. A hand-rolled cigar station also fits the bill, as does a make-your-own margarita bar—who could say no to that?

  16. Create a Nice Flow Within the Space

    Blue and yellow reception decor
    photo by K. Thompson Photography

    One of the less obvious keys to a succesful celebration is movement. The best parties encourage lots of dancing, with mini breaks for mingling and snacking. For maximum dimension and circulation, divide your reception into distinct areas for dancing, drinks and chatting, and coffee and cake. Arrange a few cocktail tables near the bar, offer outdoor seating or set up a table of desserts or late-night bites.

  17. Serve Good Food

    Mini chicken and waffles wedding catering
    photo by Braedon Photography

    It doesn't get more 101 than this. Ask yourself what you'd want to eat, both as a wedding guest and in general. Love spaghetti bolognese, dim sum or tacos? Chances are your caterer can find elegant, creative ways to serve it to a large crowd. Another option is to skip the sit-down dinner altogether and pass hearty, satisfying hors d'oeuvres with cocktails.

  18. Don't Let Your Guests Get Hungry

    Late night pizza station at wedding reception
    photo by Bonnie & Lauren

    Want a guaranteed all-night crowd? Arrange for the catering staff to bring out late-night food like French fries, pizza or doughnuts after midnight (or before, if you just can't wait). Offer a DIY coffee bar complete with flavored syrups and toppings to keep them on their feet. If you stick with low-key favorites, your friends will never want to leave.

  19. Plan a Fun Surprise

    Fireworks over tented wedding reception
    photo by Aaron Imaging

    Here's a secret for you: Keep guests celebrating by planning a surprise for the end of the night that everyone can look forward to. You and your new spouse can perform a song with the band for the last dance or prep a memorable reception getaway like a fireworks send-off.

  20. Host a Welcome Dinner

    Guests drink out of vintage glasses at party
    photo by Paper Antler

    Okay, this tip isn't technically for your reception, but it'll make the reception more fun. A casual event where all your guests can meet and mingle the day before the wedding means everyone will have already gotten to know each other, and old friends will have had a chance to catch up, so when reception rolls around, your guests can skip the pleasantries and get right down to celebrating.

    Still looking for a reception venue that speaks to you?

 

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the pre-wedding preparations? You’re not alone. It’s fair to say that almost every couple who are planning their wedding will become stressed out at some point in time. It’s common to feel this way because life doesn’t stop when you’re engaged – meaning that you still have to complete your every day commitments, as well as planning one of the most important events in your lifetime. To help reduce your stress-levels, we have put together some handy tips to assist you on taking some stress-free measures before your special day.

1. Don’t Stress About Table Arrangements 

Breathe, just breathe! Table arrangements seem to be one of the most stressful processes for both brides and grooms. In an ideal world, it would be great if people could sit next to every one they wanted to. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Couples will do their best to have families, friends and associated groups together. The problem is though, in almost every circumstance there will always be oddities in guest numbers, meaning that your guests will sometimes have to be mixed and matched with other guests to make up appropriate table numbers. The best advice that we can give is – you can’t please everyone. A wedding day is meant to be the celebration of your love as a couple and your guests should acknowledge this. It’s important to not sweat the small stuff and explain to your family and friends that you have taken their feedback on board and that you can’t promise anything due to several circumstances. That way, you can enjoy this process in a stress-free manner.

2. Ask Your Venue For Guidance 

Here, at Vogue Ballroom we can proudly say that we attend to all of our bride and groom’s enquiries on a daily basis. We are happy that our couples feel that they can ring and ask us for advice on all things wedding-related. We prefer couples to ring us beforehand to ensure that everything does run smoothly on the night. If couples need assistance with suppliers, order of events, rehearsals or anything else, we are more than happy to answer any questions.

3. Invest in You 

If you haven’t upped your yoga, pilates or gym routine before your wedding then it’s best you get onto it. Revitalising the mind and soul during this manic time is essential. If you are someone that needs motivation – hire a personal trainer in these areas, and if you’re limited on funds, then watch some free You Tube videos to keep the motivation levels afloat.

4. Take Time Off Work Prior to Your Wedding

It may seem like this one is fairly obvious, but we are finding that a lot of brides and grooms choose to work right up until the lead-up to their wedding day (sometimes even on the day before). We don’t advise this because it’s such a stressful time and so many things need to be done. It’s true that most couples save their annual leave for their honeymoon, but to ensure that you’re well-rested and prepared for the big day, it’s best to be available at least one-week prior to the wedding to ensure that the day is smooth-sailing.

5. It’s Okay to Delegate 

Some brides feel that they can’t delegate too much because they’re scared of upsetting people and potentially becoming a Bridezilla. Whilst it’s important to not over-exaggerate on things, it’s equally as important to ask your bridal party and family for help in areas that are stressing you out. For example, if you have to put wedding favours together, make a day of it! Invite your bridal party and family over and assign them a task. Entertain them with some music, food and sparkling!

6. Nerves are Normal

Pre-wedding jitters are beyond normal, so don’t worry. It’s best to speak to your family and friends who have planned a wedding and discuss with them how you’re feeling. Having a support network during this time is essential, and you’ll be a more relaxed bride for the day.

7. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Yes, it’s true – it can be so much fun to plan your wedding. You meet a whole network of wedding suppliers, you build stronger friendships with your family and friends, and most of all it’s the first time you’re planning one of the biggest life-events with your future spouse to be! It’s truly a once in a lifetime event, so we advise to relax, breathe and most of all – don’t forget to smile! It truly is such a joyful time, so being happy is the key.

It can’t be denied, there is a big emphasis placed on the bride to plan all the elements of her wedding day. But, don’t you often wonder – did the groom have a say in any of the planning? It is important for the groom to contribute, because after all – it is also his special day, which he will only experience once in a lifetime. While it may be overwhelming for the groom to have to plan such a big event, it’s important for every bride to ask for his opinions and input on certain things.

Planning may be overwhelming to some brides who include their future hubby in every element of the planning. For example: the groom may ask a few questions such as: “Why do I have to spend so much on a suit that I most likely will only wear for one day?” Or a classic one – “Why are we spending so much money on a cake, which is made with flour, water and eggs?” As the groom may not understand some key elements of your planning, don’t let this discourage you in any way. It’s important to communicate with each other as there will be a few debates and disagreements along the way, but you shouldn’t let that spoil your fun.

So, here are some ways that the groom can have a real input and plan parts of the wedding with his personal touch:

The Guest List
This one is a big part of the planning and it’s something that every couple should split 50/50 – while still working on it together of course.

It’s important for the groom to not leave this one all up to the bride. Giving the bride a list of his side of the family won’t be suffice. It’s important for the groom to really map out who should sit with who. This will really help his fiancé to determine where both families will best be placed. That way, on the day of the wedding there will be no added stresses as guests will be sitting with their families and/or friends.

The Wedding Vows
If you’re not having a religious ceremony and opting for a celebrant then constructing your own vows together is truly something every couple should do. It’s important for the groom to rehearse his lines and say it with meaning, that way it shows that he has taken the time to prepare his vows.

The Cake
A cake shouldn’t just be filled with pretty detailing. It’s always nice when the bride and groom add their special touch to their cakes. This could be having cute and quirky cake toppers or anything else that represents you both as a couple.

Planning a Day with Your Groomsmen
Just as the maid of honour and bridesmaids are important to the bride, the best man and groomsmen play a huge role in assisting with the wedding preparations.

If having a bucks night is not your thing, then there are plenty of other things you can do with the boys such as paint-balling, go-carting, golf, sporting events and much more.

The Music
The music on the night is an essential key to ensuring that your guests are having fun and dancing the night away. If one thing is for certain, it is that the bride has always envisioned the types of songs that she wants to dance to on her wedding day, particularly the bridal waltz and father and daughter dance. It’s important for the groom to be involved in choosing the music, particularly if he comes from a background which incorporates traditional music. Go through the music choices and coordinate the structure as a couple. You won’t regret planning this exciting part of your wedding together!

The Favours (Bomboniere)
Wedding favours can have both the groom and bride’s touch. Here are some examples below:

Make Suggestions For The Honeymoon
If you have always had somewhere in mind where you would like to go for your honeymoon, then it’s well worth mentioning to your future bride to be. Plan this together and make an itinerary of places that you would like to visit together. This way both you and your future wifey will be equally happy on your momentous adventure together.

Some Our Previous Vogue Brides on their Groom’s Planning Tips:

Jean & Brigit’s wedding: “Jean had an input in pretty much everything. He organised the DJ, helped me with table settings and colours, photography, videographer, the suits, the favours, picking the reception, and the cars.”

Chrisi & Alistair’s wedding: Alistair assisted with planning the important things such as choosing the photographer and videographer. He really went out of his way to make me feel extra special on our wedding night by surprising me with flowers, a diamond necklace and an eternity rose.”

Suzie & Tim’s wedding: “Tim really helped with selecting the food choices and music for the night. His input really mattered to me and I got him involved as much as possible with the planning.”

Tina & George’s Wedding: “George was pretty great in making decisions when I asked for his opinion on deciding things.”

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