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  • Stephen Simmons

How to make the best evening wedding reception!

Updated: Aug 1


How to make the best evening wedding reception

Over the past 7 years I have helped over 300 brides and grooms create the perfect evening wedding reception, and I want to share my thoughts with you!


The evening wedding reception really is the cherry on the cake part of the wedding day, once the formalities are over its time for everyone to let their hair down and celebrate with you.


Here are some really cool ideas to help you plan the perfect wedding reception.



Getting it right from the start


So let's start with a few ideas right from the start of the reception to get the very best atmosphere, it's important, from a planners point of view to show guests care, involvement whilst at the same time making it YOUR wedding reception.


In psychology we use the phrase “objection handling” and this essentially means that we stop any negative thoughts from guests before they happen.


A simple example is this: have you ever been to a venue or wedding, the kind in a big hotel where there are loads of function rooms? You might walk in and your first thought is…”so where do go from here?” maybe you even have to wait and ask at reception.


By having a sign at the entrance with a warm welcome and instructions of where to go instantly stop that thought from occurring and thus we have handled the negative objection before it even happened.


Let's take another example, when guests arrive into the wedding reception room, there are normally two thoughts that will cross guests minds. First is “Where are the bride and groom” and next is “where is the bar”


Let's start with “Where Is the bride and groom.” It's a really lovely idea to have the bride and groom at the entrance to the wedding reception room welcoming guests, so everyone gets a warm welcome, you get to thank all the guests for coming and your guests get to say their congratulations to you and more importantly see the dress! It will also make your evening flow better as you will not be constantly interrupted as new guests arrive whilst your mid conversation, and guests don't want to have the awkward moment standing around behind a crowd of guests trying to edge in and congratulate you.


Next “where is the bar” - It is a really nice touch to have some welcome drinks on arrival for guests, not only because it shows guests you are thinking of them, it also takes the pressure off the bar and thus avoids a big rush and queues forming at the start of the night, which is a very common occurrence. Instead it gives guests a chance to start chatting to old friends and family straight away without the “right, i'll just get our drinks” followed by a 20 minute wait - this really gets the buzz going early on, and again, keeps things moving.


Some couples like to build the energy of the room through the night, ending on a high. However, the best wedding receptions seem to be the ones where your guests are instantly engaged in some form of entertainment.


Having a band on from the start could set the tone of the night. As a magician, we are taught to start any routine with something completely amazing, the best effect we have in order to capture the attention of the audience and show them exactly how this is going to go down. The same can be said for wedding reception. Start as you mean to go on and set the tone of the night early. If the energy levels are down on arrival, it will be harder to raise them later.



Thoughts on FOOD?


The food situation is a delicate and hopefully delicious balance. In my experience a small but costly mistake is to have the buffet (or whatever food is being made available) served at a certain time. You all know the event where the muffled DJ announces bang on 8PM “ladies and gentleman, the buffet is now OPEN!!!"


What this can do, unfortunately, is suck the life out of an event, everyone stops dancing and chatting, the DJ goes on a fag break, and everyone starts to queue, and with sometimes over 100 guests this can lead to a lot of queuing with everyone rushing to the fantastic spread you have prepared, which in my view its an unnecessary lull in proceedings.


I have suggested to couples to instead, simply have the food available from the start and allow guests to graze as much or as little as they like through the evening, this saves a mass rush to the ham and Stilton quiche.


Other options include a hog roast or a BBQ, the same idea applies. I would suggest simply having it available for your guests, this sounds simple, but it's a mistake that could hold the party. Save the announcement or strict timings and keep the party moving!



What's your Special entertainment?


Entertainment is going to really set the tone of your wedding reception, and make it stand apart from others. And there are quirky ideas for every budget.


Asides from the more traditional DJ, bands, magicians and photo-booths, there are things that can give a little rest bite for guests and really add to the night.


I mentioned before that breaking the evening up to eat is a bad idea, but not when you have some form of surprise entertainment!


I have seen everything from fireworks, comedians, dancers, illusion shows, hypnotists (me!) and even drone displays! This is a chance to really leave your mark.


I once performed at a wedding where the bride and groom were theatre actors, and suddenly the music stopped and a full blown rendition of Grease was performed by many of the cast, complete with costumes and all the stage scenery from the show! It was a great touch and everyone really got into it!


Maybe you have an interest you could bring to the party? Maybe you have friends or family who are great at something? From signers, dancers, jugglers - a perfect gift to your guests could be some kind of surprise entertainment.




Final thoughts

Whatever you decide to do for your evening wedding reception the real secret is knowing a budget in advance.


Once you know how much you are going to spend you can start to break down all the ideas you want and get quotes for as much as possible before committing to spending any money.


One tip though is once you have your vision and your budget, always get the best you can afford.


In this industry, money talks. There is a reason one food supplier will charge £200 and another £2000. Companies and suppliers who charge more are more confident and professional in their abilities, and ultimately better. Those who charge less are typically cheaper because they have less experience, less positive reviews and lowering the price for their services is the only way they see it to get work. Whereas those who charge more are consistently getting great feedback and repeat bookings. From experience, you don't want to get a bad supplier who just doesn't care about your wedding day, and just wants to make a quick buck!



I hope there are a few ideas you can put to use here and I would be more than happy to help in any other way I could.


See more of my stuff HERE and see how I could help on your wedding reception night

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