As you’re getting closer to your wedding day, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed with planning an awesome reception (at least I was). Since my own wedding day, I’ve experienced many receptions as a wedding photographer. Here are 10 tried and true tips I’ve learned to make your wedding reception the best it can be.
1. Don’t buy disposable cameras.
In the past I’ve had brides and grooms provide disposable cameras on each table at the reception. Not only are they expensive to get developed (who still does that, anyway?) but when I asked how their photos turned out, they said they had about 4 out of 100 photos turn out alright. Guests forgot to manually turn on the flash (we’re spoiled with auto flash now) and the photos that did turn out weren’t appropriate to be shared.
If you want some good, PG fun photos of guests, consider having a photo booth at your wedding reception. Provide fun props, frames and more to get photos that will make you laugh for years to come.
2. Consider hiring second photographer.
If you have a large guest list or are considering having an unplugged wedding, a second shooter is a great way to get photos you care about while having your guests enjoy their time.
If photo booths and second shooter aren’t a good fit for you, create a fun wedding hashtag and advertise it during the reception. This will encourage guests to take photos and share them in a common location you can reference after your big day.
3. Don’t skip dinner.
Instead, be the first to be served and eat before making rounds to chat with your guests. If possible, ask your caterer to pack you dinner to go as well.
4. Do drink water.
A “wedding hangover” isn’t reserved for wedding vendors. It can be brought on without the help of alcohol, simply caused by dehydration. Seriously! You don’t want to feel hungover on the first day of your honeymoon, so stay hydrated.
5. No need to go overboard with alcohol.
If you’re concerned about the cost of hosting an open bar, or with guests getting out of hand there are other options to consider.
My favorite way to offer alcohol is through signature cocktails. They add style and show off your personalities at a fraction of the price. An alternative is to serve only beer and wine. It’s sophisticated and inviting but keeps the cost within your control.
It’s also recommended to shut down the bar at least an hour before guests head home. Remember, as a host, you can be held legally responsible for drunk drivers leaving your event.
6. Give guests a break from dancing
Even though you may be planning the party of the century, dancing isn’t for everyone. A great way to keep everyone entertained, and give your guests a chance to mingle is through games. I recommend using Yeti Yard Games — a local Pacific Northwest company that rents out giant yard games like Banana Grams, Jenga, and Connect Four among others.
7. Don't make toasts open mic.
Limit toasts to include the host(s), maid of honor and best man. Short and sweet is much preferred over long and drawn out inside jokes that the rest of your attendees don’t understand.
8. Don’t be anti social.
I know this can be hard if you are shy or socially anxious, but don’t worry. Everyone is there to celebrate you and your new spouse! If they don’t know you yet, they love your spouse enough to show their support and already love you by extension. Show you’re thankful for their support by chatting with these special people in your lives.
9. Make a memorable exit.
Your grand exit is among the most exciting events at the reception! Wow the crowd with fireworks, or make it interactive with sparklers, lanterns, bubbles or confetti. Whatever you do, have fun with it and if you’re like me, these will be your favorite photos of the whole day!
10. Don’t follow all the rules.
Skip traditional wedding fanfare if you have no interest in it, or create your own ways to celebrate and add your own personality into traditions. Doing things your own is way more fun, and it’s what guests will remember the most about your big day.
Regardless of what you do or don’t do, take time on the big day to soak it all in! You’ll be busy the entire day, and time will fly by. The way I recommend slowing down for a moment is by going out for a few minutes at sunset with your photographer and spouse. You’ll have a few minutes away from guests to breathe it all in and get gorgeous photographs. Let loose and enjoy your celebration!
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