Here’s something we know about wedding planning – many brides have secret wedding reception worries. Specifically, that their wedding reception won’t be fun – people won’t mingle, the dance floor will be half-empty, and everyone will leave early. Add to that the fear of ‘have I forgotten something important?’ and it’s enough to make even Supergirl quake in her red boots.
What’s the answer? Banish wedding reception worries by covering the basics first – food, music and guests. Then give yourself a big pat on the back, and enjoy planning the rest – like decor, flowers, transport, cake, and everything else on your wedding planning checklist. Here’s how it works.
Image from Kelly & Gavin’s real wedding by Owen Farrell Photography
Have you ever been to an absolutely amazing dinner party? You did nothing but sit around the table, chat and eat. But the food was – just incredible. It doesn’t matter what was served – it could have been as simple as pancakes, or as complicated as Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon. But now, every time you eat this food elsewhere, you can’t help but compare it to that absolute perfection.
And when you serve delectable food at your wedding reception, you can’t go wrong. The best part is – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The first thing to consider is your local suppliers – because local food doesn’t travel far, keeping the costs down and the freshness up. Vans, spits and buffets of all kinds are always enthusiastically received – you just can’t go wrong with ice cream, waffles or hot chocolate station for the cooler months. If you’re hiring outside caterers, peruse their packages first, then ask what they can do for your budget. Ask them which of their dishes get the most compliments, are most requested, or are most popular at events.
If the venue is providing the food, ask if you can have a tasting! Your wedding package will probably include a pre-arranged menu, plus vegetarian or gluten-free options. Make sure to ask whether you could make compromises to tweak their offer. For example, if the package includes a champagne toast and posh canapes, ask if you can substitute for a prosecco or other sparkly toast, skip the canapes, then make the menu fancier instead. We also recommend asking if the venue’s chef has a signature dish they do best or are famous for – chances are, that’s an absolute winner. One final tip – vegetarians usually have to make do with pasta, and that gets boring really fast. Imagine being served the same food at every party you ever go to? Ask the venue if they have anything different – perhaps lentil burgers, quinoa or a vegetarian tagine? It’s a thoughtful gesture your guests will appreciate.
There’s no doubt about it – great food is what people remember, and the essence of great entertaining.
Image of The Hitmen Trio from Fionnuala and Ciarán’s real wedding by Kathy Silke Photography
Blame it on the boogie? Don’t mind if we do! In fact, blame it on any tune – just as long as it’s groovy. All puns aside, when you put that basket of flip flops out for the ladies, you want it to be empty – it’s a sign they’re dancing up a storm. Great tunage equals great fun.
First thing’s first – hire the right person or people for the job. We’ve already written about the importance of hiring a professional DJ or band. There are many, many reasons, but if we had to name one, it has to be this – a professional won’t treat your wedding as just another gig, and shrug it off if something goes wrong.
Second, build that playlist, and make sure to do it together with your other half. If your music tastes differ wildly (you’re totally Taylor Swift, he’s a Rolling Stones rocker), then you need to find a balance. A mix of your favourite songs, plus hits guaranteed to fill the dance floor (ABBA usually does!) is a good start. Some couples include a song request line on their RSVP form, so the guests have a chance to request their favourite tune. We also love request cards and pens left out for the guests to fill out once they arrive. But, make sure to check with the DJ if he’s happy to take requests on the day. It’s a bit different with a band. We recommend giving them a list of songs in advance, which they’ll have a chance to rehearse and add to their repertoire in time for your wedding.
Finally, you may have already heard, we’re big fans of telling the band or DJ the songs you DON’T want played. You may find some tunes are inappropriate for a wedding (at least before midnight), or too personal. And, let’s not forget our favourite example of playlist disaster – the DJ who played a rival football team’s anthem at one wedding, and caused a massive brawl. Yikes!
Image from Ashley & Michael’s real wedding by Peter & Aurelia – Fleeting Moments Photography
Let us say it loud and clear – to have a fantastic wedding day, you should invite only the people who actually WANT to be there.
Not the people who’ll groan when they get your invitation ‘oh no, not another wedding… ‘
Not the people who just want to partay and don’t care where they go, as long as they can get blind drunk.
Not the people you haven’t heard from since you were a child of six, or people you don’t actually know.
And definitely not the people you think you SHOULD invite – like your boss.
This list could be longer, but we think you get our point!
Now, you don’t have to make your guest list today, especially if you’re at the very start of your planning. Just grab your notebook and write down the names of people who absolutely have to be there, because you simply can’t imagine your day without them. Ask your other half to do the same. If you already know how many people your venue will accommodate, this will be the perfect preparation for when you make the actual guest list.
People who care will have more fun, guaranteed. Think of any party you may have been to, where there was that one person who CLEARLY didn’t want to be there, was thoroughly bored, and didn’t mind making their displeasure obvious. A wedding is the happiest of days – there’s no room for people like that at yours. People who genuinely care will make the wedding day a happy occasion as well. And you deserve to be surrounded by love on your big day, for sure.
Above, image from Juliana & Adam’s real wedding by Paul Duane Photography
Main image from Charlene & Seán’s real wedding by Janet Meehan Photography
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.