Your wedding day is certainly about celebrating the love between you and the person you’re about to marry. And there is another goal: Throwing one great reception party that your guests will talk about. How do you make your big day stand out among the throngs of weddings your family and friends have attended in the past? Here are sure-fire tips that will leave your satisfy you guests.
01 Keep Your Ceremony Brief
Your friends and family are there to see you get married—but no one wants to watch a drawn-out ceremony. I practice keeping the actual proceedings to around 20 minutes so you won’t lose anyone’s attention.
02 Display a Detailed Program
Many people talk at creating a personalized program for everyone. I believe this is a waste. Your guests do want to know what is going on. Just have a prominently displayed program that everyone can easily reference.
03 Use a Wedding App or Hashtag
There are many great wedding apps to choose from. Some interactive ones allow guests to upload wedding photos to one curated place, while others keep your friends and family up to date on any wedding-related news. Want something even easier? Create a clever hashtag and ask guests to tag all of their photos using it.
04 Give Out-of-Town Guests a Welcome Package
Whether you’re hosting a destination wedding or hometown bash, some of your guests have to travel to be a part of your day. To show your appreciation, give welcome information packages for guests staying at hotels. Include a list of local spots, like the nearest drug store, restaurants, and coffee shops, taxi phone numbers plus any nearby attractions.
05 Greet Each Guest
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to personally greet each and every guest at your wedding. Once the celebration is underway, do your best to spend time with each person—whether that means chatting over a cocktail, visiting their table at dinner, or letting loose on the dance floor.
06 Create a Well-Planned Seating Chart
It doesn’t matter if your reception dinner will be a buffet, plated meal, or family-style servings: A smart seating chart is vital to ensuring your guests have a good time. Try to group people together with similar backgrounds and interests, so they’ll have something to talk about even if they’ve never met before.
07 The Open Bar
This is an often discussed point. Some prefer open bars because they don’t want to insult their guests. What I have seen is that this leads to abuse. There are the few who will start doing shots and get plastered – ruining the wedding and increasing your price tag. I recommend a limited open bar. Consider offering just beer and wine or a few cocktail options before dinner.
08 Having a Signature Cocktail
Many wedding planning books and articles recommend a signature cocktail. The truth is that this is another waste. People prefer their own cocktails and drinks. They may have one of yours – but their further drinks will be their usual.
09 Design a Lounge Area
Not every guest will want to dance all night. In fact, some may not want to hit the dance floor at all. Although reception tables are a fine place for friends and family to chat, offering a designated seating area is a nice touch. Lower the music, provide comfy chairs, and this will be a detail many guests will love.
10 Keep Speeches Short
Speeches are a common component of any wedding, but it’s important to ensure they don’t drag on for too long- or that you have too many. Keep the toasts brief—no more than three minutes per person—and have your DJ or bandleader prepared to make tasteful cut-offs. And do not interrupt dinner service just for the speaker.
11 Ask for Song Requests
Want to know the best way to get your guests out on the dance floor? Play the songs they actually want to hear. Have your DJ make an announcement that they’ll be taking requests and watch the dance floor fill up when a crowd favorite comes on.
12 Have DIY Bar
Whether it’s an late-night poutine bar, a build-your-own-biscuits bar during cocktail hour, or a sundae bar at dessert, your guests will love making (and eating) their own treats.
14 Play Wedding Games
When guests need a break from dancing, what’s more fun than an interactive game? Options like bocce ball, oversize Jenga, and backgammon are fun ways to get your friends and family to interact with each other.
15 Serve Late-Night Snacks
Yes, you’re having dinner and dessert, but those are typically devoured hours before the reception actually ends. And with couples extending their parties later and later, it’s likely that more than just a few of your guests will be thinking of a tasty late-night snack. Have your caterer bring out handheld options like sliders and fries, mini grilled cheeses, or coffee and donuts about an hour before the reception ends to revive revelers.
16 Give a Favor People Will Use
Trust us, people don’t want a framed photo of you and your new spouse. If you’re going to spend the money on favors, select something your guests won’t leave on the table. A yummy snack like cookies or popcorn, or a treat they can enjoy either later that evening or once back at home are all crowd-pleasers.
17 Have a Photo Booth
Not only is a photo booth a fun activity for your reception, it’s also a great alternative for your guest book or favor. The options are literally endless, but we love a great selection of props for your buddies to play with.