20 Tips for a low stress wedding reception

  1. BE IN CHARGE BEFORE AND AFTER BUT NOT DURING Let your coordinator or designated bridesmaid shoulder the burden of checking off the items on the timeline.   Let them run the show but feel free to say “you know what, let’s skip the formal cake cutting”.  It’s your day and if you feel pressured or rushed it is less fun. 

  2. CREATE A REALISTIC TIMELINE Understand that things take time.  If your planner or the venue manager is telling you that it takes an hour to flip the room listen, to them.  You pay them because they do this for a living. 

  3. TRY TO FOLLOW YOUR TIMELINE With some exceptions it is USUALLY better to “stick with the program”.  When you were calmly figuring out what you wanted to accomplish on the day of your wedding you set these items as your goals for the day.  You made the plan now let it work for you.  If you do decide to cut something out don’t try to reconfigure the whole timeline just go to the next item on the list. 

  4. KEEP FORMALITIES BRIEF Toasts, wedding party announcements, cake cutting, and welcome speeches from the father of the bride are all wonderful elements of a great wedding reception but, they do add up to a lot of formalities for one day.  Try to keep each one brief so things are always moving. 

  5. TOASTS DANGER DANGER!  Toasts are a unique opportunity for your family to express their love.  They can also be a chance for the wrong intoxicated guest to kill the vibe and take things in a direction that you don’t want to go.   Have a list of who you want to give toasts and make sure that they know what is expected of them.  This helps with both day of jitters for them and keeping the embarrassment factor down for you and yours.   

  6. MODERATION IS YOUR FRIEND Have fun, but if you are not a person who imbibes regularly, this is not the day to expand your horizons.   Know your limits and stick to them.

  7. DON’T START THE FIRST DAY OF YOUR MARRIAGE HUNG OVER Bachelor/bachelorette parties are a fun part of the whole wedding experience, but they can make for a rough morning the day of the wedding.   Think about having them the weekend before the wedding so everybody has a chance to recover.

  8. DRESS ACCORDINGLY It’s hot outside in the summer. You are about to wear some of the most uncomfortable clothing you have ever worn.  Keep in mind you may have tried on your wedding dress in October for your June wedding.  Maybe you want to do a quick change after the ceremony.  It is ok to get through the ceremony and pictures and then slip into something a little more comfortable for the reception. 

  9. GIVE FOLKS SOMETHING TO DO I know that you are busy getting your pictures taken and everything seems like a whirlwind of activity but your guests have been sitting 30 minutes waiting on the ceremony and now they are waiting on you to be announced.  Let them have a few appetizers and maybe a cocktail while they are milling around. 

  10. VENDORS ARE NOT IN CHARGE (Listen to their advice but don’t let them run the show.) Caterers think people are here for the food, photographers think this is a photo shoot and DJ’s think that folks are at a dance party.  People are at your wedding because they love you and want to celebrate your wedding day with you.  Keep that in mind.  This is your day. 

  11. DAY OF PLANNERS ARE YOUR BEST PROTECTION These angels of mercy keep everybody focused and moving in the right direction on a very hectic day.  They also keep you from having to be distracted by a hundred small decisions.

  12. LISTEN TO THE CHEF Before you settle on your menu take a moment to hear what the catering chef thinks.  He does this all the time and just a few suggestions from him will greatly add to the enjoyment of your guests.  You may have your heart set on fried chicken and waffles for dinner but you have 300 guests so it will have to sit too long.  He might suggest that you do a chicken and waffle “bite” as an appetizer.  Allow him to offer his expertise when it comes to HOW to make your vision come true. 

  13. EAT SOMETHING!!! You are busy and you are excited and you haven’t eaten since yesterday at 7pm.  Make sure that somebody brings you something after the ceremony.  The caterer should be more than happy to bring some appetizers to the Bride and Groom.  This is super important if you intend to have cocktails later.

  14. GIVE YOURSELF A TIME OUT Make sure you have some time set aside on the timeline for a quiet moment alone with your spouse.  You will be amazed how 10 minutes of peace and quiet will recharge your batteries. 

  15. THE TIMELINE IS A GUIDE It is not meant to be pulled off with military precision.   Know that this is a track to run on but it probably won’t be followed exactly and that is ok.

  16. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF  You are married to the love of your life and that is what is important.  The imperfect moments are likely to be those looked back upon most fondly .  Don’t focus on the bridesmaid that wore the wrong shoes. 

  17. DO YOU NEED IT?   Sometimes it is about what you don’t do as much as what you do.  Is the unity candle super important for your ceremony? Do you really need a pristine white aisle runner or is it just another piece equipment that costs money and is a hassle to deal with?  If it is an integral part of your dream wedding décor, by all means keep it. However, if you are only doing something because “everybody does it”; think about skipping it. 

  18. MATCH THE VENUE   let your décor match the venue rather than trying to TRANFORM the venue.  This is also a big money saver.  If you are getting married in a venue that has beautiful marble walls and giant windows, all you probably need is some accent flowers and a little up lighting.   Keep in mind why you are here. don’t try to build the Taj Mahal in a barn!

  19. HOW THE FOOD IS SERVED MATTERS   You don’t want your friends and family standing in long lines.   If you are doing a full meal make sure that your DJ calls tables and that they work with the coordinator to ensure a nice flow.  If you are doing just appetizers it might be better to have multiple stations set throughout the venue.  Listen to your caterer on this one. They want things to be as efficient as possible and will give great advice.  If you have a high guest count make sure the buffet is double sided and consider a second buffet line if space permits.

  20. DISPOSABLE PLATES???  A few years ago, it was inconceivable that a formal wedding could have disposable glassware or plates.  These days it is completely acceptable to have all disposables at a modern wedding reception and there is also a trend of having a mixture of disposable and “real”.  There is nothing wrong with having disposable plates and napkins while having the stability of real forks and knives.   This is a great money saver and if you want to go eco-friendly there are really nice bio-degradable options.