What is the reception at a wedding?

What is the reception at a wedding?

What is the reception at a wedding?

eco friendly wedding ideas

The reception at a wedding is basically the celebratory part that comes after the formal ceremony, offering a chance for the happy couple, their families, and their guests to mix, dine, and enjoy entertainment together. It’s the time-honoured combo of a meal, speeches, dancing, and various forms of entertainment, all depending on the couple’s vibe and cultural traditions. This shindig lets the bride and groom show some love to their guests for showing up, and it’s the perfect spot for a big ol’ happy celebration of their new partnership.

What is the order at a wedding reception?

Arrival of Guests at the Reception Venue:

Guests arrive from the wedding ceremony and are welcomed with drinks and small bites, mingling as they await the arrival of the bride and groom (or variations thereof). This is a great time to have wedding entertainment to help break the ice, get guests chatting and create a lively atmosphere.
This is also known as the cocktail hour which funnily enough lasts around 90-120 minutes. Your wedding guests will certainly appreciate those sophisticated hors d’oeuvres as the bride and groom prepare to meet all the guests

other guests at wedding

Bridal Party Entrance:

The newlyweds and their bridal party make a grand entrance at the reception, often accompanied by music reflecting their unique personalities. Feeling adventurous? Why not spice things up with indoor fireworks, showgirls, and maybe a couple of tigers? 😉!

Welcoming Speech:

Typically given by the father of the bride, a close family member, or the best man, welcoming guests and thanking them for their presence combined with a champagne toast.

confetti shot after ceremony

Meal or Buffet:

The main meal (also known as the wedding breakfast) is served, ranging from a sit-down dinner to a more casual buffet or family-style serving. At times before the meal, guests might find themselves obliged to join a receiving line in the not-so-popular present. You line up to greet the newlyweds and their in-laws, but brace yourself – it can turn into a lengthy affair. It’s a tad old-fashioned in the realm of wedding customs.
Top Tips – a wedding breakfast can last around 2-3 hours so consider ways of keeping guests occupied – a live band, a fun quiz, those surprise singing waiters will help keep a festive atmosphere. Oh, and ditch the reception line!

wedding breakfast at venue

Toasts and Speeches:

Friends and family, including the best man and maid of honour, give toasts to celebrate the couple. Speeches can also be done after the meal and there are pros and cons to each, but one thing’s for sure – tears and laughter will be involved.
Top tip – Keep speeches brief unless you’re particularly fantastic at holding the attention of the entire wedding party!

groom talks about couple's life

The Wedding Reception lull:

Those who’ve been to a few wedding receptions will understand the sudden change in pace right after the meal. The potent mix of carbs and alcohol starts to take effect, causing guests to shuffle around like a scene from The Walking Dead! Since the wedding ceremony to this point, your guests and family members have been (hopefully) on their best behaviour – quite the accomplishment. It’s been a bit of a slog, so you’ll need something to perk up your guests (anyone up for a wedding magician, perhaps?) and get them energised for the evening celebrations.

Top Tip – Having a close-up magician at your wedding can really help keep your wedding reception in good spirits plus they provided the most excellent wedding photos.

wedding magician at wedding reception

Cutting of the Wedding Cake:

A tradition symbolising the first task the couple does together, followed by feeding each other a piece of cake. In my opinion, this tradition needs significant enhancement; otherwise, it may soon become a forgotten aspect of wedding customs. It feels somewhat lacklustre when the venue assistant initiates a countdown from 5, only to be met with a lukewarm response. My key suggestion is to designate a host for this moment to infuse the energy that the happy couple truly deserve. A toastmaster would be an excellent choice for this role.

First Dance:

After the cake cutting, the newlyweds share their first dance as a married couple, followed by dances with their parents and then an open dance floor for the guests.
Far too often, I’ve seen newlyweds glancing around the room for help right around the one-minute mark, prodding their evening reception guests to join them posthaste. Let’s not leave them hanging. There’s nothing worse than seeing the newly married couple essentially dancing alone while the guests smile sweetly back on them.

brides dress

What is the order of dances at a wedding reception?

  1. The married couple go first (it’s their wedding day after all)
  2. Parent Dances: The bride has a lovely dance with her father, while the groom gracefully dances with his mother, symbolising the significant roles they’ve had in their children’s lives.
  3. Wedding Party Dance: The bridal party joins the

In certain customs, particularly in Greek traditions, the money dance or dollar dance is incorporated, where guests attach money onto the bride and groom in return for a dance.
We’re a cashless society in the UK, so perhaps we could jazz it up with a snazzy card reader system that lets you splash out in three instalments!

evening wedding reception

DJ or Live Band

One of the trickiest tasks on your wedding day isn’t deciding how you’ll successfully make 4 trips to the bathroom unassisted but instead, it’s keeping your wedding party on that dance floor! Hiring live bands will certainly keep the masses from hiding in the corner.

Top tip: Many couples are finding great success with saxophonists who play along with your DJ’s set list – this really does keep everyone dancing away and enhances your celebration.

band at wedding reception

Wedding Party Food

Your guest list will need rewarding for their shape-shifting moves so food during the evening reception is a must. Often this is a much more casual affair than the full meal with a buffet-like approach at most weddings. Is your wedding reception held outside? Consider hiring in a mobile pizza van – super sociable food that hits the spot at any celebration. Various locations will offer in-house food but nothing is stopping you from being unique on your special day.

food truck at venue


Come midnight, it’s time to order the taxis and kick out your guest list. Combine this with a fireworks display to complete an awesome wedding reception.

Optional ideas at wedding receptions

Garter Toss – A playful activity where the groom tosses the bride’s garter to a group of single men, symbolising who will be next to get married.

Bouquet Toss – Similar to the garter toss, but instead involves tossing the bride’s bouquet to a group of single women.

tossing bouquet at wedding reception

What can make a wedding reception more fun?

Not just for wedding receptions, all events need evening entertainment to keep the party celebration vibe. Here are a few ideas but for a plethora of wedding entertainment ideas check out my blog post.

  • Photo Booth Madness: Kit it out with props from various decades, wacky hats, and a trusty old feather boa. This not only guarantees instant fun but also promises a collection of memories (and potential blackmail material).
  • Silent Disco: It’s a genius solution for venues with strict noise regulations. And observing your Aunt Marge groove to disco while your best mate rocks out to heavy metal, all in complete silence, is truly a spectacle to see.
  • Caricature Artist: Guests adore receiving a comical sketch of themselves. It’s a delightful, interactive experience, and they walk away with a one-of-a-kind keepsake to cherish the memories of your special day.
  • Live Portrait Artist: Upping the sophistication with an artist crafting live portraits. The sight is truly captivating, offering your guests a bespoke keepsake.
  • DIY Cocktail Bar: Who doesn’t adore being a mixologist extraordinaire? Arrange a delightful station with all the fixings for guests to craft their very own signature drinks. Toss in a dash of competition by naming the best cocktail for some added chuckles.
  • Outdoor Games Arena: Ideal for those summer weddings – envision massive Jenga, croquet, and a one-of-a-kind bride and groom cornhole. It’s a chilled-out way to break the ice and spark some jolly competition among guests.

Is the wedding ceremony part of the wedding reception

The ceremony and reception are two different events with your wedding ceremony taking place before the wedding reception.

Who pays for the wedding reception?

It’s a super modern world we’re living in, so say goodbye to the good ol’ days of dads footing the bill for the bride’s big day. Splitting the costs is the usual way to go, but hey, it all comes down to what the couple and their families agree on. Some lovebirds prefer to handle all the expenses themselves, while others might have parents swooping in to help out or cover certain bits. The key is to have a proper heart-to-heart about money matters early on in the wedding planning journey to make sure everyone’s singing from the same hymn sheet.

Final thoughts on What a Wedding Reception

From the grand entrance to the farewell, a wedding reception is a delightful and charming occasion brimming with traditions, dancing, scrumptious food, and entertainment. It’s a celebration of love and commitment, so treat it with the respect it deserves. Feel free to sprinkle in your own unique ideas and personal touch to ensure your reception is a truly unforgettable experience for both you and your guests. Remember, it’s your big day!

Who is Chris?

Chris is the ultimate wedding guest and gets invited to hundreds of weddings to perform his cunning close-up magic. Ideal for marriage celebrations to get your family and friends laughing and having a great time. He provides amazing entertainment post-wedding ceremonies and before the cake-cutting. If you’re interested in hiring Chris for your wedding , get in touch for his online brochure.

professional magician