Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wedding Reception: My Philosophy

A wedding ceremony is a beautiful way to join a man and woman in the bonds of marriage. Guests who attend the ceremony are invited witnesses to the couple's vows and commitment. Whether you have a religious or secular wedding ceremony, the focus of the service is squarely on the bride and groom.

However, when the ceremony is over and the guests head to the wedding reception, I am firm believer in the focus shifting to the wedding guests. Wedding receptions are parties to celebrate the bride and groom. But often the couples think the reception is about them. Let's take a typical party with a guest of honor. The party is filled with food for the attendees and speeches about the honoree. The honoree does not get to dictate what the guests should wear, do or say.

I once helped plan a wedding for a bride who stated she didn't care what the guests ate or if they ate. She wanted them to come,  bring presents and go home. She briefly contemplated charging them for food. Thankfully, the groom's mother stepped in and helped.

My philosophy of entertaining is to honor my guests at a dinner or party that I am hostessing. Are them comfortable? Do they have enough to eat? I love to give thoughtful favors for attending parties or showers. I work to ensure my guests feel welcome, loved, well-fed and cared for.... By the way, I feel the same way about friends and family who visit. This philosophy extends to a wedding reception. 

1.     Let the guests eat---- whether cocktails or start dinner. It is unfair for wedding guest to stand around for one hour while the bride and groom make their way to the reception. They should not wait on the bride and groom.

2.    Cut the cake - your guests want to celebrate and taste you cake. I have been to way too many weddings where the bride and groom cut the cake hours after the wedding reception started. My rule of thumb is to cut the cake within one hour of the reception starting. 

3.   Are your favors cheesy? The purpose of a favor is to thank your guests for coming to your wedding. Most wedding favors in the market are very cheesy. Your guests can tell and to be honest, slightly offended. No favor would be better than a cheesy favor. Either the bride or family will have to make a favor, spend more on favors or if you cannot afford a nice favor, write a sweet personal note. I hate to rain on the favor parade but seriously, invest some time or money and make it a heartfelt gift from the bride and groom. The internet has some beautiful examples. 

4.  Do your guests know what is going on at the reception? My daughter wanted a fun "bar", a signature drink and a photo booth. Great additions to any reception but we wanted the guests to know all those fun things were there. In addition, we added a menu card to the stationary budget. The menu card allowed the guests to know what the choices for dinner was, the signature drink, the photo booth and their guest book, a sweet surprise for her father and any other fun details we had available for their fun!!!

Now we have set out the philosophy for the reception. Next week, we are going to discuss a very controversial subject... the role of the guest. To give you a hint, wedding etiquette has been completely ignored by most wedding guests. People seem to make it up as they go....


  1. You have great ideas! We recently attended a wedding that was beautiful. Once we were asked to proceed to the reception hall, the bride and groom didn't come for at least an hour (taking pictures). The guest were kind of floundering..not sure what to do and there was no direction. By the time the b&g arrived we were ready to go!

  2. you should write a book Cynthia....

  3. I like most of what you said however I never liked the idea of guest favors. It feel to much like a bribe...'I'm so glad you came here is a gift to pay you for the inconvenience'. That may not be what was meant but when I go to a wedding it is because I love the bride/groom and want to support them and show them my love, not for the food or favors. The only thank you I need comes directly from the bride and groom when i go through the line.
    We didn't do any favors at our wedding, directly because of this. If they needed compensation to come to my wedding I didn't want them there.
    And we did all our pictures before the wedding as I hated making guests wait and our wedding was too late ceremony started at 7pm to take them after the reception with a 3 hour drive ahead of us.
    To each their own. Beautiful pics!


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