What Can We Do to Make Sure Our Wedding Reception Is Really, Really Fun?

Here's how to ensure your guests have an absolute blast

Updated 11/13/17

Photo by Jenn Byrne

Of course, the number-one priority for your wedding is to get married. A close second, though, is to make sure your guests have fun! It’s hard to imagine how they wouldn’t enjoy a night of drinking, dining, and dancing in celebration of your nuptials, but we bet almost every bride you ask will tell you she’s had a nightmare or two about a fun-free reception. So what can you do to make sure your guests have an absolute blast? Here are a few tips from the pros.

Keep Things Moving

If you’ve ever been to a wedding that wasn’t as enjoyable as you’d hoped, there’s a pretty good chance some of that had to do with the flow of the evening. Nothing kills a mood like long breaks, awkward pauses, and things that take longer than they should. A surefire way to make sure your guests are entertained is to do your best to avoid these things at all cost—and it all starts with a solid timeline.

While an extra-long cocktail hour sounds great, anything longer than 90 minutes can feel dragged out, so give your guests time to enjoy themselves, but get moving on to dinner before it’s been too long. Speaking of dinner, talk to your venue about ways it can make sure service is swift. If you’re having a buffet, offer family-style cheese boards or plated salads at each table so guests aren’t starving while they wait. Make sure someone is assigned to releasing tables to keep the line moving smoothly, and opt for a two-sided buffet so everything goes twice as fast.

During band breaks, opt for an upbeat playlist that will keep everyone on the dance floor. And as for traditions like toasts, cake cutting, and the bouquet toss? Time them right so they’re things guests look forward to, instead of interruptions in the fun. Have toasts during dinner, then lead into the first dance and parent dances before opening the dance floor. Combine cake cutting with the bouquet toss, which will again get everyone back to grooving.

Consider Comfort

If you or your guests are uncomfortable, no one will be having a good time. For a wedding in warmer months, make sure you account for the amount of body heat created by 150 people dancing. Choose a tent with sides you can easily open, and add on those fans to keep things cool. Getting married in the winter? Shawls make lovely favors, and be sure to have blankets and heaters around if any part of the evening is outside. While high-top tables are great cocktail-hour options for most guests, your older relatives will love having somewhere to take a seat. Be sure to have similar furniture near the dance floor so they can watch all of the fun!

Plan for Yourselves and Your Loved Ones

When you’re making decisions for your wedding day, you should of course make choices that are personal to you and your partner. But it’s also a good idea to consider what your guests will enjoy. If you love country music but most of your friends and family members aren’t fans, a honky tonk band is probably not your best choice for reception entertainment. That being said, a bluegrass trio could be fantastic during cocktail hour! The same goes for the menu. Be thoughtful when deciding what you’ll serve, mixing your favorite flavors with crowd-pleasing options. There’s a reason, after all, that they’re considered crowd pleasers!

Think Outside of the Box

What else makes weddings fun? Those surprising, unexpected additions that catch guests off guard in a good way. It could be an incredible ‘80s cover band instead of the usual wedding-music offerings (who doesn’t love ‘80s music?), a performance from your alma mater’s marching band, late-night fireworks, or a delivery of cult-favorite burgers on the dance floor. Those aspects of the evening that are totally you are the ones guests will remember, and the choices that go above and beyond the usual wedding fare will stop your guests in their tracks and put smiles on their faces.

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