As suppliers to the Wedding industry we get to attend A LOT of Weddings Receptions. But attending as suppliers rather than as guests we get to see things from a whole different angle. If you’re a bride or groom-to-be and currently planning your own wedding then read on – we’d like to share our top 7 things to consider when planning your evening Wedding Reception.
Get your timings right:
Allow at least half an hour from when you expect your meal and speeches to finish before inviting your evening guests along for the reception. If you expect to finish at 7pm, invite your evening guests from 7:30pm. This will not only allow for speeches running over (you can never predict how long that embarrassing best man speech is going to be!) but it will also allow time for you to pop up to your room to freshen up before the night time begins.
It’s better for your day guests to be there waiting when your evening guests arrive, rather than your evening guests turning up to an empty room and feeling like they’ve arrived too early! (or having to hang around outside if you’re having both functions in the same room – we’ve seen that happen!) It also means that you don’t have to miss out on any of your evening reception because you’re up in your room touching up your make-up!
Better still if your timings allow for it, leave a whole hour in-between the wedding breakfast and evening reception. That way your day guests can have a rest or a quick power nap. Wedding days tend to be long, emotional and tiring – especially for the bridal party and close family involved, so everyone will appreciate a rest period.
Lastly, allowing time for things running over means you don’t waste the hire time (and therefore your money) on things that you’ve booked for your reception. Such as DJs, Photo-Booths and Musicians.
2. Set the scene for your first dance:
So you’ve carefully picked out your perfect song; and you’ve had a bit of practice twirling around your kitchen. Or maybe even some formal lessons. But have you thought about setting the scene for the dance on the night itself? This is the part of the first dance that we most often see overlooked, and it really can be crucial to making your first dance as special and magical as you want it to be.
The first thing to consider is lighting. When your first dance begins you’re going to want the lights to be dimmed. But do you know who’s going to be in charge of this on the night? Make sure you speak to your venue’s wedding planner in the lead up to the wedding and ideally again on the night, to make sure there will be a staff member on hand who knows how to work the lighting system – who’ll be ready and waiting to dim the lights as your first dance begins.
On the night you’re suddenly going to find yourself getting bundled onto the dance floor and your song beginning to play. The last thing you want is to have started dancing and suddenly notice that the lights are too bright and you feel too exposed. It could really spoil the moment for you. You’d hate to have to call out to the crowd to dim the lights. Or for the best man or head bridesmaid to be running frantically around the room shouting for someone to do it. Not just that, If you leave it to your bridal party or guests who don’t know how to work the lighting system they could end up making the lights brighter, or even turn them off all together! Your first dance is something that you can never get back. You want it to be romantic and magical, and you don’t want anything spoiling the moment. So our advice would always be to make sure there’ll be a professional on hand to take care of the lighting.
The next important factor for setting the scene of your first dance is gathering your guests around to watch. A good DJ will always usually do this for you, and will introduce you both onto the dance floor too. But it’s always worth checking with your DJ beforehand that they’ll do this for you, as in our experience it’s doesn’t always happen. You don’t want your first dance song to start playing when your guests are at the other side of the room tucking into the chocolate fountain!
Have a chat with your DJ a few days before your wedding to tell them what your first dance song is going to be (so they have time to download the right version!) let them know roughly what time you plan to dance, and double check that they’re ok to introduce you and your new husband or wife onto the dance floor (by your new name if that’s what you want!) and to gather all of your guests around to watch before the music starts to play.
Last but not least now that the scene is all set – enjoy every moment and dance like nobody is watching!
3. Get your guests onto the dance floor:
At every wedding and party there’s always the age-old challenge of getting guests onto the dance floor. You have that ideal image in your head of a jam-packed dance floor with guests throwing shapes and singing at the top of their voices to Proud Mary. The trick is making it happen on the night.
Part of the issue can be where the dance floor is positioned. If its right next to the bar then you’re probably not going to have a problem keeping it filled. But if it’s all the way over at the other side of the room then your guests might be too scared to go over. If you haven’t picked your wedding venue yet then consider this when choosing one. But if you have and your dance floor is nowhere near the bar, consider putting enticements near the dance floor that will draw your guests over. Whether it’s food, seating, your guest book, or a Selfie Mirror! Make sure your guests have no choice but to head over to the dance floor for the action.
It’s also important not to have too much seating. Only plan seating for around 50% of your guests at the reception. Remember there’ll always be people at the bar, the toilets, the buffet, the smoker’s corner or your Selfie Mirror/PhotoBooth if you have one. So not everyone will need a seat at once. The less seats you have the more likely you’ll have people forced to go and dance!
Next – invest in a good DJ. Give your DJ some ideas of what music you think your guests will like, make sure there’s something for everyone, and don’t forget a few of the classics that will get people up – even if it means throwing in a bit of cheese! That said – don’t micro-manage the entire playlist. Remember it’s the DJ’s job to read the room and the dance floor and keep the music flowing nicely, so trust them to do their thing!
Last but not least, use your first dance to get the party started. Encourage your guests onto the dance floor to join you as your dance draws to a close. Then make sure there’s a great tune to follow so that everyone stays put for a good old boogie……….!
4. Check in with all of your suppliers:
It’s a good idea to check in with all of your evening suppliers and entertainers a couple of days before your wedding to check everyone has the right details. Is the start time of your reception still the same as it was 12 months ago when you booked them? Do you still want them set up in the same place? Have any of the other timings or arrangements changed around? You’ll feel much better on the day knowing that you’ve checked up on everything!
5. Consider giving a shout out to your evening guests:
It’s not the done thing, but have you considered giving a quick shout out on the microphone to your evening guests to thank them for coming? You may have guests that have travelled from across the country to make it to your party. People who’ve hired baby-sitters, bought new outfits, paid for transport, and probably bought you a nice wedding gift too. Would you or your other half be brave enough to get on the mike and say a little thank you to everyone for coming? You can always use the opportunity to encourage everyone onto the dance floor too!
6. Don’t let tired feet stop the party!
A recent trend we’ve seen at weddings is to provide a box or basket of flip flops by the dance floor.
This is a great and easy idea for those guests who’ve been on their feet all day in high heels (probably new ones that they never wore in beforehand!) and also for those guests that have put a good few hours in on the dance floor. Offering them a pair of comfy flip flops to rest their tired feet will prevent them sitting down, or worse going home. It’s not just the ladies who love them either – the guys love them too!
You can get some lovely diamante wedding themed ones but plain white ones will do just as well, and you can pick them up pretty cheap. For brides we recommend getting some wedged ones so you don’t trip over your dress!
7. Be your own guest!
You’ve arranged the buffet, the sweet treats, the entertainment, the games, the fun, and much more… but it’s not just for your guests to enjoy, it’s for you to enjoy too! Be your own guest at your wedding and go and enjoy all of the things you’ve organised, because you’ll never get that night back to enjoy them all again!
When we’re running the Selfie Mirror we always have to go and grab the newlyweds to make sure they come and get some photos. While we can’t get the rest of the guests off the Mirror we find that the newlyweds will always be too busy talking to their guests and making sure everyone is having a good time. They can forget to have fun themselves!
So go and eat your food and treats. Stand back and enjoy your entertainment. Dance on the dance floor. Get yourself a drink. And definitely get plenty of silly photos on the Selfie Mirror with your friends and family! You’ll be so glad you did when you’re looking through all the photos the next day!