R is for Reception, we are bringing you Wedding Reception Ideas.
We are getting through these super fast now! The ceremony is over with, you are now officially married, Yay! So, of course, it’s time to party!
For most weddings, your guests will be with you all day. It can be long and let’s face it boring sometimes! Have you ever been to a wedding where you are convinced your watched stop working?
Surely it’s not only been 5 minutes since I last checked, it can’t be! It had to have been at least 5 hours!!!!!
Well not to worry as we have you covered. No snoozing guests on our watch!
If you plan well and have fun entertaining things planned throughout the day, your guests will be having such a great time they want even to look at the clock once!
What is a wedding reception?
Simply put a party, held after the marriage ceremony! It is the celebration after the formal ceremony.
Some people confuse the wedding breakfast and reception up. Some think the reception is just in the evening after the meal.
The reception is all events after the ceremony, meal and evening entertain included.
What happens at a wedding reception?
This can vary with different religions and cultures but generally, there is a cocktail hour or drinks reception, a meal, dancing or entertainment.
It is the hospitality put on after the legal ceremony has taken place. There are of course traditions but the reception is a great time to add some of your personality and plan a day you and your guests will love.
Below is a guide order of the day to a standard non-religious wedding reception.
Order of events at a wedding reception
- Cocktail hour, welcome drinks, drinks reception. Whatever name you wish to call it, this is usually straight after the ceremony while pictures of the couple and wedding party are also taken.
- Wedding breakfast, Meal. Your guests are seated for a meal. This can be formal with table service or buffet style. Maybe even just afternoon tea or a BBQ.
- Welcome newlyweds. Traditionally the newlyweds are welcomed once all guests are seated. Sometimes the wedding party also make an entrance.
- Speeches: this can be a controversial one with some people. These can take place before, during or after the meal.
- Cutting the cake: Traditionally this is after the meal here in the UK, usually during the evening reception as extra guests attend. This can before or straight after the meal though.
- First Dance: Again this differs slightly from during the meal to straight after to during the evening reception.
- Entertainment & Dancing: the evening reception is usually music and dancing of choice.
- Evening food: Depending on the timings of the day evening food is usually served. A buffet, food trucks or bacon barms, whatever you fancy!
- End of the Night: The music stops and you all head home! Well, no wedding I’ve been to usually stops then but officially it’s lights out!
Wedding reception ideas
We know you came here for super stylish, lots of fun wedding reception ideas. Don’t worry we have you covered! We have broken them up for you from fun foods, stylish décor, entertainment and much more! Just remember to think through your day and how it will feel as a guest, think where you can add elements to keep them entertained.
Fun wedding reception ideas
How do you make your wedding fun? This is a question we are asked a lot!
Keeping the guest in mind throughout planning and really taking in to consideration guest experience will help make sure your guest have a great time. Planning activities for them though on top of music and food is the best way to add some fun.
1. Photobooths: These are always a winner and there are so many amazing ones now. From modern stylish ones, full-on props galore, traditional box style ones. If you have outdoor space a great option is a camper photo booth like Birdie on our directory.
2. Games: You could go all out with big lawn games or even fairground rides. Or keep simple with some games on the table to entertain guests.
3. Face painting or glitter bar: These are a great option for festival style weddings
4. Fireworks: These are always a great hit, just check with your venue before booking any.
5. Casino: These can be lots of fun and a source of hours of entertainment for guests.
6. Make your table plan fun: A shot glass with their name, make it a puzzle, spin a wheel or pick up the phone! The ideas are endless!
I love to be surprised! When you have been to lots of weddings they can start to merge together, most are so similar! Adding the element of surprise is a great way to wow your guests and make sure they remember your special day.
The easiest way to surprise your guests is to keep all your plans to yourself, especially if unique. But adding in some out of the ordinary ideas will really get them gasping! Here are some we recommend:
7. Signing waiters: Done right these can be loads of fun and will elevate your guests meal experience hugely
8. Flash mob: Have you seen this one in Spain? Setting this up with your wedding party or a large part of your guest will get the dance floor full I am sure.
9. Surprise entertainer: Having a famous singer or interpreter come out will get your guest excited
10. Sign with the band: We have had couples do a first song instead of dance, bride or groom sing a song to their other half. Usually, some talent required!
Food and drink ideas for your wedding reception
Everyone comes for the food and drink, right? Just me?
There are so many fun, quirky ways to upgrade your food and drink for your wedding reception. Think about what you like, how you can show your personality and get creative.
11. DIY Bar: This can be a pimp your prosecco, make your own cocktail, gin bar, so many options. Pick your favourite timple and find a creative way to serve it to your guests.
12. Coffee van: We love this one! These are becoming more popular and a great daytime treat for guests. They look super cute and a great photo opportunity also.
13. Hot chocolate bar: The perfect winter treat, especially if having any outdoor activities and cold.
14. Dessert table: Upgrade your cake area and make it not just insta worthy, delicious too! These are huge right now and we can see why they look amazing and guests love tucking into them!
15. Grazing tables: The big brother of dessert tables! I feel this is just a standard party must now right? We love them, guests love them and they are always a talking point!
16. Food trucks: If you have the space upgrading your evening food to food trucks is always a winner. Pizza, kebab, Viet food, Indian, pretty much anything you like! There are so many fun cool trucks now also they are again a great photo op!
17. Live BBQ: We say live as no one wants cold dry meat! But also it makes a show out of the meal, watching them grill it live and plating it fresh adds to the experience. Or go all out with a whole hog roast to really wow your guests.
Entertainment should be more than just a DJ or band at the end of the day. Think through your whole and see where you can add some entertainment. This doesn’t just have to be music but picking the right music or musician at different stages throughout the day can set the scene of each event.
18. DJ/Band: We have already mentioned these and are a pretty standard part of any wedding evening.
19. Magician: These are a great option during your meal. Keep guests entertained in-between courses.
20. Caricaturist: A guest favourite! Also doubles as favours as guests can take their drawing home.
21. Painter: This one is similar to a caricaturist but usually paint the room and scenes happening. Fascinating to watch the beautiful painting come to life.
23. Sax player: On our must list! A sax player is a great option as can be slow jazz vibe or they can jump on with the DJ and get your Ibiza night club vibes going!
Small wedding entertainment ideas
If you are eloping, having a small or micro wedding then it might be more important than ever to have entertainment for your guests.
You just need to think about the atmosphere in relation to your numbers. If a micro wedding of 15 then I don’t think a DJ to get the dance floor full is really going to work. Think about your guest and tailor your entertainment to suit them and your planned day.
Head to our micro and small wedding ideas blog for lots more inspiration.
24. A private show: From music, comedy or even play. Having a small group means you have a personal private show.
25. Kareoke: If you guest like a good sign along this a great option. With smaller numbers karaoke is a great way to have a fun-filled night.
26. A personalised menu: With smaller numbers, each guest can have their own menu. Or go all out with a taster 10 course!
27. Go all out on the table design: With one big table only to style, you can some extra wow factors so your guests feel ultra special.
Non-traditional, Alternative wedding ideas
If all these ideas above sound a little too boring for you then don’t worry we have our non-traditional couples covered also. We encourage your day to be about you and full of personality and entertainment is a great way to do this.
28. Fancy dress: Pick a theme and get your guest to dress for the occasion.
29. Themed: Picking a theme and going all out, and not just a style or colour. We mean a book, movie or whatever you love and making every part of your day suit it perfectly.
30. Have a festival: Another fav of ours! Forget the sit-down meal and DJ. Get to a field, live band, food trucks and party the night away!
31. Don’t have a reception!: This one probably is the most controversial, non traditional option. It is totally okay to not have a wedding reception though! The ceremony is the real reason for your wedding day, the rest is all extra.
32. Book your fav restaurant: Following on if heading home isn’t for you then book a table or a few at your favourite restaurant. Heck head to mc donalds if that’s your thing! Just be true to you and have a day ou love!
Wedding reception ideas for kids
If you have the kids coming along to your full-day or just reception then I am sure you are wondering how you can keep them entertained. There are so many great options now that having kids can be a lot less stressful at your celebration nowadays.
33. Personalised colouring books: These are a fun idea to keep them busy during the meal. You can get ones with quizzes and puzzles and for all ages groups.
34. Creche or childminder: The ultimate peace of mind. Having someone there to not only entertain but keep the kids behaving or in one area is the best option for a stress-free wedding reception.
35. Bouncy Castle: Not just for the kids this one. You can get stylish white ones now so as not to turn the day into a kids party feel.
36. Video game station: If you have mainly older kids this is a great choice. Set some comfy seats and a few Xbox’s, PSPs and let them play away!
Wedding reception decoration ideas
This is a blog in itself but we will give you some of our fave ideas below. Your decoration choice makes a huge difference to the feel of your wedding reception. Speak with your planner, designer or florist to get ideas that suit your overall design.
37. Neon sign: We love a neon sign and your guests will too! Great to add a modern wow factor and perfect photo opportunity.
38. Greenery wall: The new flower wall. We have seen some super cool modern ones and even some with real plants!
39. Flower clouds: If your building has some height then these are the perfect wow decoration.
40. Lighting: Going all out with modern cool lighting can be enough to make your day super stylish.
41. Table layout: Not quite a decoration idea but playing around with your table layout can make a huge difference
Wedding reception ideas
Hopefully, you are now full of ideas for your wedding reception. We have shared a huge amount and do not think you have to include all of these or even any! They are just there to get you thinking and hopefully, you can find a way to put your twist on them. We would love to hear your wedding reception ideas in the comments below.
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