A wedding reception is a party - and hopefully one of the best parties you'll ever throw in your life.
And a party = guests. So it's crucial that you make sure your guests have a great time.
Here are 20 things to consider to make sure your wedding is one of the best they've ever been to - some things to do and some things to avoid.
- Be clear about if your guests can bring a plus one or children. Don't leave this one open to interpretation - make it obvious on your invitations if plus ones and children are welcome.
- You don't have to have a gift list - but if you do, it's often simpler to put a little slip in along with the wedding invitations detailing what you've decided. If you want your guests to give money to a charity in lieu of gifts, then you'll need to give the charity donation details, or perhaps set up a Just Giving page.
- Send out Save The Dates as soon as you have a date in mind so that your guests can plan ahead.
- When you're giving out details of accommodation, try and offer different types, ranging from local B&Bs through to five star hotels, so that everybody ends up with what they want (and what they can afford).
- If you're marrying early in the day - say at 11am and plan on carrying on until the midnight hour, then that's a long day for your guests. You're going to have to feed them at least three times and we recommend serving reviving cups of tea, sandwiches and cake at 4pm when people are likely to flag. Also, ask people on your invitation to let you know if they have any special food requirements - vegetarian, vegan for example.
- Maybe split your wedding day into two parts - a daytime do and then a few hours to relax and change before the evening festivities get under way. (That's what Kate Middleton and Prince William did.)
- Chill-out areas for the oldies, children and friends who want to chat quietly and catch up are always a good idea. Not everybody will want to dance all night or try and shout to one another above the noise of a band or DJ. Image by David Bostock
- Don't keep your guests hanging around whilst you have your wedding pictures taken. Make sure they can get to the reception and be served drinks, coffee and tea on arrival or the whole affair will feel a bit anti-climatical after the ceremony.
- Make sure everybody knows what the dress code is. If you'd like everybody to wear morning suits, then put that on the invitation. If lounge suits are fine, then put that. If it's black tie in the evening, make sure your male guests are aware (and it also sends a message to the ladies about what they should wear). Have umbrellas on hand for wedding guests if it looks like rain.
- If you're marrying in a city centre, or somewhere that parking is awkward, consider hiring a coach from your reception to the wedding venue, so that people don't have to worry about parking their cars.
- Make sure you have a list of reliable taxi firms for guests to book cabs.
- If you're having young children at your wedding, give their parents a break by employing a children's entertainer or some nannies so that they can relax and be off duty for a bit.
- Think about a menu for children as well as adults. This doesn't have to be pizza and chicken nuggets. Talk to your caterer about what they'd suggest but it may not be the time to serve spaghetti bolognaise (think of the potential mess down dresses and shirt fronts)! Children are unlikely to want to sit quietly and plough their way through a three course meal - so maybe a buffet would be a good option for them.
- Don't put your single friends on tables with married couples. They'd probably have much more fun on a singles table! Mix it up! Sometimes the unlikeliest people become couples!
- Remember you don't have to have a top table. You could have a table for just the two of you - and then leave to mingle with your guests personally.
- A receiving line is always a good idea (but make sure it's under cover and in the warm during the winter months). It gives you a chance to greet each guest, even if it's just for a a short while.
- Remember to thank your guests for your wedding gifts. Otherwise they'll wonder if you a) received their present b) liked it. You should certainly have written your thank you notes three months after your wedding day.
- A wedding post box for cards and gifts is a useful addition on a side table at your reception and helps guests who have brought gifts to the reception.
- Make sure the wedding speeches don't go on for too long. Make sure everybody has timed their speech beforehand - there's nothing worse than somebody who drones on for three quarters of an hour when your guests are dying to get on and party.
- You don't have to give out wedding favours. If your budget is tight, then put the money you'd spend on favours towards your food and wine. Nobody will be offended by not receiving a wedding favour.
Finally - the best thing you can do for your guests is enjoy your wedding. Don't get stressed that everything isn't exactly as you planned. It never is and you should expect the unexpected. Be smiley, happy and relaxed ...
Featured image: Via Candid Frank Photography