The Wedding Whisperer’s How To: plan to get the best out of your reception

After the formalities of the ceremony, your reception is time to relax and celebrate with your guests – The Marquee set up at Monaco Grand Mercure thanking/honouring them for their support, and treating them like they are the most important people in the world…

…well, aren’t they?
And if that’s truly the case, it’s worth spending some time, planning carefully to create an environment that really makes your guests feel special.

Contrary to what you might expect, in your starring role as “The Newlyweds” you probably won’t get to linger over your meal – you’ll be kept busy chatting, getting photos, etc, so rather basing your menu choices around your favourite foods, identify who your VIP guests are, and plan to cater for them. MudCastle Turret RoomYou will not be able to please everyone, so don’t try. Instead, figure out who you most want to honour, and build your celebration around that framework.

This is actually a key point in creating a genuinely memorable event – if your most special guests are, say, your grandparents, then they will probably value good plain food [and lots of it], comfortable seating, quiet music, etc., far more than clever lighting, elaborately plated morsels of food, and a large dance-floor – Which may be the way to head if your VIP guests are your workmates and friends!

Sometimes it works well to essentially host two reception events – an intimate, simple meal with close family immediately after the ceremony, and then a fresh and funky evening event with everyone else. The weird thing is that this can even end up costing less it would to provide the more traditional full sit-down meal with evening entertainment for your whole guest list.

Most often, your guests will arrive at the reception venue before you do, so make sure they know where to go, and plan something for them to do [other than soak up alcohol] while they’re waiting. This is especially true for any children or young adults in the party –the grown-ups will happily make polite conversation, but the kids have already sat politely through  not only the ceremony and group photos, but also the time waiting for the bride to arrive. It’s pretty reasonable to offer them some kind of diversion – from a basic goodie bag, through to their own entertainment, menu, and space to wriggle!

Kids [especially if they’re part of the bridal party] need potty breaks. And snacks. And time to run around yelling “boodleyboodleyboodley”. If they’ve made it through your ceremony without fuss, it’s only fair to give them a break at the reception

I very highly recommend the services of Flossie the Balloon Lady, and Meredith Thorpe, Face Painter [ph 548 9135], two local professional entertainers who quietly but effectively create a fun diversion for kids [and often, the adults]. They are also beautifully house-trained – leaving their work space spotless once they’re done.

Even in an informal venue, such as at the beach, thoughtful touches like sunblock, bug spray, chilled water bottles, etc will make your guests feel cared for. No matter how much champagne you’ve ordered, order more fruit juice. Guests are often aware of their alcohol limits, particularly early in the event, and will be very pleased to have soft drink options available. Trust me on this – while it’s poor form to run out of bubbly, it’s much worse to run out of non-alcholic drinks.

Music and entertainment is another area where receptions sometimes fail to reach their goal, simply by not thinking through what you are trying to achieve. Consider the ambience you’re trying to create throughout the event. i think it’s incredibly arrogant for a bride and groom to insist on only their own style of music for the whole time. Certainly, you should play some of your favourites, [even if it’s acid rock or baroque strings]. Make the most of it by choosing your  timing – a few specific songs when the two of you arrive at the venue, and for your first dance, for instance. Once again, it comes back to thinking about your VIP guests, as well as what you personally want.

Plan for a variety in musical style and volume through the course of the reception – such as, over dinner, your guests need to be able to converse easily over any background music, not so much later in the evening when you’re wanting them all up and dancing. Cheesy as it sounds, it’s definitely worth including some old-fashioned numbers early in the evening for the grannies in the party, as well as some  loud noise later for the young adults.

The true secret of success really comes from seeing your reception through the eyes of your best-beloved guests. Trust me on this – if you’re making the people you love feel welcomed and cherished, even their polar opposites will see and respect that, but if you try to please everyone, or just please yourselves, you probably won’t quite hit the mark. Why put that much time, money and effort into only going halfway?!

And remember, if you’d like to bounce your ideas off a professional, The Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store offers a FREE consultancy service, and we’d be delighted to help you make the most of your reception plans!


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