There are customs that we almost automatically include when we’re planning a reception. But take a long look at all of them and see if you can’t dress them up and give them a new look.
It is usual to have a guest book so you have a permanent record of those who attended, along with a personal note from them.
Option 1: Centre a relatively small picture of yourselves with a very wide white matte. Invite guests to sign the matte and include a wish. Later, you can have it framed. This captures a memory that is visual and can hang in your home.
Option 2: Invite guests to sign a silver tray with an engraving pen. This is a practical way to relive the day every time you use the tray.
Option 3: A large pottery serving platter can be signed with a special pen and fired days or weeks later.
Option 4: Invite guests to bring a small photo of themselves to the wedding which you can later mount in a book as another strong visual reminder of who was there. It will be a little piece of personal history.
Seating cards (sometimes called escort cards) traditionally are lined up, alphabetically, to direct guests to their table.
Option 1: Attach bomboniere to the name tag. It might be a tiny box with a truffle or candy-coated almonds inside the box. It may be a tiny bottle of liqueur.
Option 2: Instead of numbering the tables, give them names. You might choose members of your families, (Henry, Barbara, Marion) or places you have visited together, or honour your own country with the names of the provinces and territories.
Option 3: Personalize the name tags with a two-line rhyme on each one so your guests can have some fun comparing the mini-poems each received.
This can be a slow-moving chore for guests, so find ways to keep it moving. Remember that the purpose of a reception line is so every single guest has a brief moment with the bridal couple and the hosts. There are ways to achieve this beyond the traditional receiving line.
Option 1: Have as few people as possible receiving guests. Exclude the fathers, for instance. Have only the mothers and the bridal couple if you have the nerve to go really minimalistic or, if you must, include the bridesmaids but certainly not the groomsmen.
Option 2: Don’t have a receiving line. Instead, put bomboniere in a basket and, when guests are seated, visit each table and personally say hello and distribute the small gifts.
It is customary for toasts to begin when coffee and dessert is served and champagne glasses have been filled.
Option 1: Have a toast after every course throughout the meal. It keeps the guests focussed on the head table and gives better balance to the evening.
Option 2: Group the toasts, with the more heart-warming toasts made after the clergy’s blessing, such as the host welcoming the guests, the bride’s family welcoming the groom and the groom’s family welcoming the bride. Save the toasts that tend to be witty for the end of the dinner, such as the best man’s and the best woman’s toasts.