weddings 101

Wedding Reception Essentials

Everything you need to know about planning the perfect reception!

Receiving line

Decide who will be involved and figure out their order ahead of time. The line usually includes the couples’ parents as well as the wedding party.

Pick a location with enough room for comfortable traffic flow. Think cozy, not squishy.

Decide who is handing out favors and seating cards.


Make sure to get references.

Is the menu flexible to accommodate any dietary restrictions of guests?

How can they help you save money? (e.g., cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvres in lieu of appetizers)

Inquire as to what liquors are included in the cost

Venue set-up

Will you need to rent anything? Extra chairs or cooking equipment?

Designate a location for the wedding gifts.

Instead of a guest-book table, turn your guest book into a work of art. Frame your favorite we’re-so-in-love pic and have guests autograph the mat.


Waitstaff carrying trays of nibbles is always a good idea. Talk to your caterer about whether you want to go fancy or fun. (Avoid items that require sauces or dips — no stains!)

The classic trio of entrée options is best: meat, fish, vegetarian.

Be prepared for guests who may request specialty meals (vegan, kosher, halal, etc.).

Don’t force your tastes on guests. Just because you don’t like meat or vegetables doesn’t mean everyone else won’t. The key is to have variety.

Serve late-night grilled-cheese sandwiches, brownies and popcorn. This type of old-school comfort food is the perfect antidote to a few too many glasses of wine!


An open bar is recommended. If nothing else, this is the reception must-have.

Make sure there’s a wide variety of pop and juice for the non-drinkers and designated drivers.

Dinner games

Keep fidgety guests occupied with something: Try a fun multiple-choice quiz about the couple or custom Mad Libs.

Make ’em work for smooches! Have guests sing a song with the word “love” in it to get you and your spouse to kiss.

Musical chairs is a great way for guests to vie for the centerpiece.

Ask to see the baker’s cakes. Does the bakery offer tastings?

Determine the size of cake and your desired style: tiered monster, utilitarian sheet or cupcake tree.

Choose a cake topper. Consider a music box, marzipan sculptures or classic statues.

What are the costs? Are there additional delivery charges or is there a fee to have it sliced?

Keep a proper knife on hand. And figure out where guests can pick up their piece of cake.


Choose somebody who likes being the center of attention and is likeable — not too raunchy but not too sappy.

Provide them with a schedule and a list of toasts.


Find a wedding band or DJ that suits the style of music you’re going for.

The first dance is traditionally slow and sappy, but it doesn’t have to be! If it’s more your style, kick off the night with an upbeat number.

Provide the DJ/band with a list of your must-play songs.


The bride and groom should pop by every table. Guests will appreciate the courtesy. After all, they’re here for you.

Light small talk goes a long way. Self-deprecation always goes over well, as do complimenting clothes and giving words of thanks.

Remember: eye contact, handshakes, kisses.

Image: The Last Forty Percent

filed under: , ,