When it comes to planning your big day, there are only two things you need to understand:
1. Your Wedding Ceremony is meant to be the most romantic moment of your life; that moment where you get to glide down the aisle in the most stunning gown you’ve ever set eyes on, your guests wiping back tears of joy as you make your way to the man of your dreams to shout the words, “I do” before giving him a good old smooch in front of your whooping friends.
2. The Reception is the part of your day you and your guests will be looking forward to more than any other. Of course it is. It’s snacking on posh canapes, raising glasses of yummy champagne, steadying yourself with fine food, slurping down middle-of-the-range wine like it is going out of fashion, chatting with friends old and new, and taking to the dance floor high on confidence, your hips wiggling to the cheesiest playlist ever pulled together, which is exactly what wedding receptions are all about.
You and your guests will never forget how beautiful your ceremony was. Never. But if you really want to keep your guests smiling, laughing and talking about your big day long after your last dance, you need your celebration to be personal, unique and packed full of fun.
So, without further ado, here is a smorgasbord of awesome ideas you really ought to claim as your own. (Spoiler alert: our favourite is number 4).
1. Sit Your Friends Next To Their Friends
We know how tempting it can be to play matchmaker and sit your guests next to strangers in the hope they’ll bond over their love of chocolate fondues and travelling. But try not to do this. When push comes to shove, your guests have come to your wedding for two reasons: to cheer you down the aisle and catch up with their far-flung friends.
To put it in a more attractive light: a great seating plan will lead to a lot of laughs and a lot of laughs will lead to a lively dance floor and a lively dance floor full of laughing pals will guarantee your reception goes down in folklore as the most unforgettable night of the year. That’s why you should let your college buddies sit together and your cousins catch up with one another. It will lead to the best kind of fun imaginable.
2. Favours That Won’t Be Forgotten
Think of wedding favours is as the glazed cherry on top of the delicious-whipped cream-covered pudding that is your big day. They are your chance to say a raucous thank you to all your guests and tell them just how much you appreciate them making the trip to be with you. And there is no better way of doing this than with something super-duper personal.
A bag of marshmallows with your faces printed on them, a little-corked jar of your favourite tipple, masks of the bride and groom, a pair of brightly coloured sunnies with your monogram on the side, or anything else that will bring about a little smile.
3. The Secret Is Entertaining The Kids
While you might still feel like you’re 19 years old, you’re entering that age where some of your friends will have a child or three. We’re not telling you this to scare you or to act your age. Quite the contrary. We’re telling you this so you can come up with some incredibly fun ways to keep them entertained throughout the day and long into the night (which is our way of saying, “give their mum and dad the chance to let their hair down, forget they have kids for an hour and take to the dance floor”).
Bring in a couple of trained babysitters to oversee them, hire a foosball table, designate them a room at your reception, buy a dozen movies for them to watch and watch again, have party food on tap, and set up some speakers (with the Disney soundtrack on repeat) so they can have their own mini-disco. Trust us: the secret to a memorable wedding bash is knowing how to keep the kids entertained.
4. Make-It-Yourself Food Stations
If there is one foodie trend that we cannot get enough off, it’s the interactive food station. As everyone that has ever been to a party will tell you, serving great food is what makes for a great celebration. But what will take this up ten or twelve notches is having dishes your guests can customise to their taste buds; foods that they can get all hands-on and have fun with.
Some of our favourites have been grilled-cheese stations, roll-your-own sushi bars, and mac-and-cheese tables, all of which have had guests chomping at the bit to create their very own little bits of edible heaven. It’s the tastiest talking point ever.
5. Give Dinner A Bit Of A Shake-Up
Traditionally, sit-down wedding do’s consist of a three-course meal. But why not shake up proceedings by stretching dinner out over five courses and planning teeny-tiny surprises between each one. Not only will your guests get to explore a couple more delicious dishes than usual, they will be pinned to their seats by the unexpected, from your madcap aunt giving an off-the-cuff toast to your little sisters taking to the stage with an acoustic guitar and mic, to acrobats appearing from the eaves on ultraviolet ribbons.
A wedding is meant to be an experience you will never forget, and what could be more experiential than five tasting dishes in front of a mini-talent show?
6. Have A Second Gown In The Wings
We get it: (unless you fancy watching the next royal wedding in your own dress while eating chips and dips on the sofa) your big day is the only chance you’ll have to wear your wedding gown, so you want to wear it for as long as you possibly can. But, trust us, you won’t be able to have the time of your life if you’re worried about someone spilling middle-of-the-range red over you or if your beautiful train keeps catching on people’s chairs.
Our advice: as soon as you have snogged at the end of your first dance, head backstage with your bridesmaids and change into something just as ravishing but a bit more party friendly. Swap your long gown for a little white dress and your veil for a flower headband, and lead the party-charge when you come back out. It might not be your wedding dress, but it will mean you can dance more, laugh louder, chat to your heart’s content and stuff your face with cake, and that kind of yeehaw attitude will set the standard for your guests.
7. A Fresh Take On The First Dance
Of all the magical moments, none will stop time as much as your first dance. It’s all eyes on you as the first note of your love song rings out, your heart-fluttering like the wings of a hummingbird, a hundred cameras filming your every move - it’s the perfect chance to make jaws hit the floor while giving your guests something to share on Instagram (using your personalised hashtag, of course).
Start your dance by slowly moving across the empty floor to the sound of Etta James singing “At Last” before suddenly taking it up a gear as Hall & Oates blares out of the speakers, you and your soulmate showcasing your very own routine. It will be the moment everyone cherishes; the moment people playback on their phones for years to come.
8. Music Your Guests Can Let Loose Too
When the champagne kicks in, feet start to tap under tables and your guests find themselves desperate to get on the dance floor and showcase their most suspect moves, you need to be able to deliver a crowd-pleasing playlist, whether that’s through a DJ or a live band. That means having a mix of golden oldies and modern classics; songs people can’t help but love. But don’t just concentrate on the music itself. To host the most incredible party you need to make sure your band or DJ is happy to stay on until the carriages are due, as well as having music in place to handle any breaks they have scheduled.
Actually, that last point is super-important. We’ve all been to a wedding where the drinks have been flowing and the dance floor is just starting to hot up when the band takes a break; the music disappearing into the abyss along with all those dance-hungry guests. Don’t let your wedding be that wedding. Instead, have a playlist prepared for any breaks. It will be the best thing you ever did.
9. Midnight Feasts Are A Modern Saviour
The sort of fun had at a wedding is impossibly infectious. It’s the kind of euphoria that should come with a warning it’s that contagious. This means drinks will be sloshing around from bottle to glass to mouth. It’s what people do at weddings. They will get carried away with the frolics of it all and that can spell disaster… unless you have midnight feast planned.
Ask the catering staff to bring out baskets of french fries, organise a pizza delivery, have a fish and chip fan turn up, get a donut-guy to walk around - anything to keep your guests well-fed and happy. Endless dribs and drabs of food are a surefire way to keep your guests partying no matter what.
10. End Of The Night Spectacular
When the night looks like it’s coming to a close, your friends are dancing arm in arm and people are drinking champagne straight from the bottle, keep your guests celebrating by planning a surprise for them. It could be a memorable last dance performed by your wedding band, it could be a glorious fireworks send-off or a sparkler exit. Whatever you prefer, organise the kind of finale you and your guests deserve.
Thanks for reading! For more wedding tips, please do follow us on Facebook and then tell all of your friends to do the same.