Considering it’s the moment you officially tie the knot, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the ceremony is the focal point of your wedding. However, it’s likely that the reception is what you and your guests are most looking forward to. After all, who doesn’t want to eat, drink, and be merry with family and friends? But with so much to consider, it can be difficult knowing where to begin when it comes to planning. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Think carefully about the venue
The biggest conundrum around your reception will likely be whether you host it in the same location as your ceremony, or move on somewhere else. For many, the former is the most obvious choice, as it is easier to organise, and you don’t have to worry about transporting guests elsewhere, which lets you make the most of your time. However, in some cases, the venue for your ceremony may be unsuitable for a reception, or the idea of having two separate venues might simply sound more appealing.
Your main consideration should be choosing a reception venue that isn’t too far away from the ceremony. This will not only add travel time to everyone’s day, but will also be costlier if you need to organise transportation for your guests. Aside from the location, other important considerations will likely be the same as those you’d for choosing a ceremony venue. These include the venue’s overall ‘feel’, its capacity, your budget, and accessibility. You might want to opt for a slightly less formal setting though, considering this is where you’ll be partying.
Style your soirée appropriately
No wedding reception is complete without decorations. Your choice of decorations helps set the tone, highlighting your wider wedding theme, or just accentuating the venue itself. Decorations should go way beyond a simple colour scheme and a few carefully arranged flowers, however, and you should think carefully about everything, from furniture to lighting.
It’s important to find out if your venue has any restrictions before making any decisions. For instance, historic building owners are unlikely to let you alter the walls to hang signage. Once you’ve ascertained what you can and can’t do, start thinking about how your decorations can fit in with the overall theme of your wedding. If you want a vintage feel, for instance, source antique-looking chairs, doilies, and China tableware, while a whimsical theme could include multicoloured balloons, mismatched chairs, and paper lanterns. When it comes to your flower centrepieces, make sure they too work with the overall aesthetic—particularly the colour scheme. As wedding florists Blooming Haus note: “[colour] clashes can look garish and undermine the effect you’re going for.”
Decide on your entertainment
The reception is where you’ll have your first dance and celebrations as a married couple, which brings us to the age-old question of whether to go for a wedding band or DJ to soundtrack your evening. This is an entirely subjective decision, and depends on the type of music you’d like and the vibe you’re looking to create. A band can create a greater spectacle and all-round experience, especially as they are able to interact with the crowd and respond accordingly. On the other hand, DJs take up less space, and can generally play a much wider range of songs, while bands usually having a more limited repertoire. A DJ is also typically cheaper than hiring a wedding band.
Once you’ve decided on the type of entertainment you want for your reception, take your audience into account when choosing between particular acts, such as whether they’re child-friendly. Listen to any prospective bands or DJs before committing to booking them, and give clear indications about the type of songs you’d like played. As well as music, you may want to consider other types of wedding entertainment too, from hiring dancers to having photo booths and garden games, as well as things to keep the kids amused like clowns, a bouncy castle, or a games room.