Planning your reception? Heed these words of wisdom from expert wedding planners. They have seen just about everything and know what they are talking about!
Focus on statement décor and florals in the more highly photographed areas of the reception (which is typically the centre of the room). As a planner and a designer, the first thing I will do is opt for an Estate Head Table where the bridal party and their spouses all sit at a lavishly decorated long rectangle table facing each other. I also like to emphasize larger or extravagant florals for guest tables closest to the head table, and reserve smaller arrangements and candles for the exterior tables as you move further away from the centre of the room. If you love the finer details, I choose to reserve beautiful glassware, charger plates, ornate cutlery, monogrammed napkins and stunning table stationery for the bridal party and family honour tables only.
Think holistically when it comes to the amount of space the venue offers. Consider not just your guest count, but also what styles of tables you’d like to use, where you want the dance floor to be, and what other large-scale items you may be bringing in like a photo booth or an espresso cart, to really determine if the space will be large enough and where you may need to compromise if it’s not. If at all possible, try to avoid tearing down any tables to make space for dancing – it can be really awkward for guests to feel like they are losing their home base, even if they plan to be dancing most of the night!
Vivid & Vogue Weddings and Events
Do a reception reveal. With all the planning you’ve done to-date, you should do a reception reveal to see how all the work is executed and how your wedding vision comes to life. Don’t forget to have your photographer capture the moment you see your event space.
Karin Wu & Co.
If you are having an outdoor reception, make sure to let your guests know. This allows your guests to plan accordingly in terms of wearing flats over stilettos, knowing to bring a coat if it’s a spring/fall wedding and wearing lighter attire if it’s a summer wedding. Will you have enough coverage from the afternoon sun for your summer wedding? Consider a tent with no side panels to allow for air flow, or paper fans and umbrellas available for guests during the ceremony. The paper fans can be a great little takeaway for your guests as well. October evenings can get chilly. Maybe consider renting heaters to help keep your guests warm. Plan for all kinds of weather.
Events by Sarah Megan
Focus on the food! Everyone comes to a wedding ready to eat. And they’re definitely looking for the food to be amazing. If you want your guests to be happy, feed them as soon as the schedule allows. Finger foods after the ceremony is the best place to start. If you’re not having a cocktail hour, start dinner early with appetizers at their seats. But don’t stop there. Giving your guest the opportunity to refuel with a late-night station will be most appreciated by those hitting it hard on the dance floor.
Plan your music selections ahead of time. You have hired an amazing DJ, but note that your wedding reception should be a reflection of you and the demographics of your invited guests and family. Do not under-estimate the importance of music selections. Choose your personal dance music to be a true reflection of you and not what is on the Top 20 billboard. The music for your grand entrance, first dance, cake cutting, Parent dance etc. should be thoughtfully selected. Most DJs welcome some information on what kind of music your guests will love to groove to at the reception dace party, Are they into ‘80s, ‘90s, country, rock ‘n roll, hip hop or a blend of more than one genre? Music is the heartbeat of a really good party.
Celebration Events Management
Encourage movement. Rarely do people want to be seated in the same spot in the same room for over 6 hours. If possible, try to encourage movement and create intentional areas for guest enjoyment. Terrace cocktails, multiple lounges, photobooth, game area, dance floor, multiple bars, food stations – whatever your features, be sure to split them up so people have space to enjoy it all without feeling cooped up.
Guest experience is more important than ever before, as a lot of people still aren’t comfortable being in large groups. A thoughtful addition to your wedding reception would be several small conversation areas with lots of space around so everyone is not on top of each other.
Another element of the guest experience that is often overlooked is treating guests with dietary restrictions just as well as guests who don’t have any concerns. Often a guest with a dietary concern misses out on the appetizers, a nice main course, almost always dessert (unless its fruit salad) and they rarely get to indulge in the late-night treats. It’s wonderful to accommodate wedding guests for their main course, but how about every other aspect of the wedding? Truly, all guests should be considered and it would mean the world to those who are usually left out.
The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada Inc.
Make the event feel like you, and be intentional with your wedding design! Don’t have just another wedding at a venue that will have hosted many before and after you. Make sure it feels like your wedding. It’s the nuances and the details in between that make all the difference!
Beth Jacobs Events
What will we see in 2022?
- Couples will be looking to entertain and pamper their guests during their cocktail hour and wedding reception.
- Food trucks with fun food like tacos, gourmet mini hotdogs and specialty individual pizzas.
- Specialty coffee and bubble tea stations.
- Cocktail bars on wheels that offer beer flights, whiskey or tequila tastings.
- Wedding receptions with a focus on fun. Disco-themed parties, murder mystery and Bridgerton are a few examples. Guests can dress up, rent costumes, kick back and truly look forward to a night out with their favourite people again.
- There will be less focus on formal speeches, and more focus on small and intimate lounge areas for conversation to catch up.
- The return of colour! Metallic silver instead of gold accents, greenery with dried and faux florals, thanks to the flower shortages everywhere. Soft and muted colours will always be a favourite, but toss in a pop or two of brightness to make it stand out.
Tracey M Events
Don’t forget to read our Reception Planning Guide!