How To Plan A Strong Wedding Reception

Plan the ultimate wedding reception using this advice!

Your wedding day is a day you and your spouse will always remember. It’s the time where you committed yourselves to one another. A day full of romance, emotion, and happiness, how could you possibly forget?

However, your guests will likely remember the afterparty: your wedding reception. Not that they don’t care about your joyous moment, but they want to celebrate it. And that means enjoying an awesome party. That’s why Riverview Recreation Park has put together these tips to help you throw the best wedding reception ever.

Define What Fun Looks Like For You

Before you head down any wedding reception planning path, you’ve got to establish your idea of a good time. Are you the kind that loves to dance the night away, or would you rather break out the board games for a kick? The best gauge of fun should be your own interests.

Discuss with your fiancé the types of entertainment you want to include. Figure out what works best for the both of you. When you find yourself stuck between two options, that’s when it’s time to turn to your guests’ interests. Do your best to guess what would entertain the most people.

Just remember that you can’t make everyone happy. That shouldn’t stop you from having as much fun as possible.

How Many People Do You Want At Your Wedding Reception

Would you rather your wedding reception be a huge event, or a small and intimate one? Let’s face it, the size of your reception is going to have a huge impact on what sorts of entertainment will work and what won’t.

Remember to keep your wedding reception guest list focused on who you want to be there. Don’t feel obligated to invite someone just because they’re a friend or family member. Everyone has that person they love, but will inevitably ruin the party. You don’t have to invite them. It’s really ok.

Choose An Awesome Wedding Reception Venue

Your wedding reception is going to be hugely influenced by the space you choose. Make sure you select a wedding venue that has the room for your guests, as well as the flexibility you need for your entertainment. An outdoor venue with great amenities might be a good choice, especially if your guest list is longer.

Make sure you choose a venue that’s budget friendly as well. You don’t want to have to skimp on the other ingredients to a great wedding reception because the place you’re holding it at cost too much.

Decide How You Want To Seat Your Guests

When it comes to wedding reception seating, there are two schools of thought. The first is to arrange a seating chart. Some people insist that strategically organizing your guests can help keep people happy. Putting people around people they know, clustering people by age, seating singles together for “flirtation opportunities”,  and separating the kids are all potentially great for your party.

On the other hand, some feel that an arranged seating chart isn’t such a good idea. The idea of letting your guests seat themselves next to whomever and where ever they feel most comfortable will allow for a natural flow. After all, nobody knows who your guests want to spend time with better than they do.

Whichever way you go, be sure it’s what will work best with the people you’ve invited.

Include A Receiving Line At Your Wedding Reception

Lots of people are starting to ignore this age-old wedding reception tradition in favor of a more casual approach. It tends to be a bit time-consuming, and it delays the bridal party from getting a moment of time off their feet. However, if you plan it correctly, it’s a great way to get to the fun faster.

Most of the time, the receiving line is held at the entrance to the cocktail hour or reception. That can create a bottleneck, which can cause people to get a little cranky. Instead, have your receiving line as you exit the ceremony. People (usually) only have one way to leave the ceremony, so having the meet & greet there is a great way to get to the party started at the wedding reception venue.

Make Sure Your Wedding Reception Guests Are Comfortable

Outdoor wedding receptions are super susceptible to weather, which means you need to act accordingly. After all, if your guests are uncomfortable, they won’t have fun, and they certainly won’t stick around.

Hot weather at an outdoor wedding reception venue requires shade, and lots of it. Make sure you have plenty of places for your guests to escape the sun and heat. Other tricks, like fans and misters, will definitely help cool your guests off. Make sure you keep them well hydrated, too.

If your outdoor wedding reception is going to take place in a cooler weather month, you’ll need to make sure people stay warm. Rent heaters, have blankets and shawls available, and serve plenty of warm drinks.

Mind The Speech Time

Despite what people may think, nobody enjoys a long toast. People tend to squirm in their seats waiting for the father of the groom to get through his third story about the newlywed couple. If you want to keep the fun up, you need to keep the speech time down.

Give everyone a time limit. Be reasonable, but don’t let things get out of hand. Three minutes is plenty of time to get in a moving speech without making everyone wait it out.

Skip The Traditions That Don’t Suit You

Not every wedding reception tradition fits every couple. If there’s one that doesn’t fit you and your fiancé, own it. There’s no reason to include it in your schedule.

If there’s something that doesn’t suit your style, feel free to leave it out. That gives you more time for the things you enjoy and keeps the fun going.

Get A Wedding Reception Coordinator

Stress sucks the fun out of a wedding reception fast. There’s nothing more stressful than trying to keep your reception moving forward. Either assign a few Type-A friends to be personal attendants, or hire a professional coordinator.

Either way, you’ll save a ton of stress not trying to handle it yourself.

Make The Right Food Decision

Food makes your wedding reception memorable. It’s important you get it right if you want your reception to be totally enjoyable. Let’s run through your options.

You could serve the food pre-plated to your guests. Typically, it’s a meal option they were allowed to choose in advance containing the main course, a starter salad, and a dessert. People tend to eat at the same time this way, and your food expense is usually lower. However, dinner can tend to take longer (due to multiple courses) and your staff cost may increase.

Another option is the “family style” method. Large plates of food are served to the table, where the guests then pass the food around and fill their plates. This option is going to give guests the ability to control their meals a little better, as well as serve as an ice breaker for the table. However, you’ll need larger tables and a higher food budget to make it work.

There’s also the buffet line. A super causal option, guests get to serve themselves from the available options. It saves you a ton of money on staffing, gives your guests full control over their meal, and creates lots of socializing opportunities. However, it will take the longest to get through dinner, your food cost will likely be high, and people aren’t super fond of lines.

While each option is equally balanced in pros and cons, you’ve got to determine what’s going to fit your wedding reception the best.

Plan Great Events To Keep Your Wedding Reception Guests Around

After dinner, if you have nothing planned, most people will leave your wedding reception. That’s why it’s important to give them incentive to stay.

Make late-night eats a part of the schedule. Food trucks, “Build-Your-Own (fill in the blank)” bars, or even a late-night pizza order will stave off the hunger for a few more hours and keep people around to enjoy a treat. Include coffee, always.

Make sure there’s entertainment around, too. Musicians, belly dancers, acrobats, a photo booth, or whatever else suits your style. Putting on a great show always keeps people around. Don’t forget to keep the kids entertained too. That helps take some stress of your guests who are parents.

And, if there’s going to be an after party (because your use of the venue ends before your guests will want to end the party) let them know where it’s going to be!

Build An Awesome Wedding Reception Playlist

Dancing is a huge part of the after dinner fun at any great wedding reception. That means you have to have songs that get people to move. It should also fit the tastes of multiple genres so everyone hears a song they love. Don’t forget the oldies either! Clue your DJ in to what should be played and when, and save the more explicit music for later in the evening.

Just in case, here’s a playlist with 80 wedding reception songs to inspire you.

Stick With The Wedding Reception Plan That Makes The Most Sense For You

Like we said at the beginning, you’ve got to go with what you think is fun. That’s why Riverview Recreation Park would make the perfect setting for your wedding reception. With a beautiful and romantic amphitheater, permanent Renaissance village, and over 185 acres to customize to your needs, you can plan the celebration you always wanted.