What you should and shouldn’t do at your Wedding Reception

If we are all being honest, I think we can agree that the part of the wedding that most people enjoy is the reception. The ceremony is emotional and beautiful, but the wedding reception is where most things happen. It’s during the reception that there’s food, drink, dancing, and interacting. Not all wedding receptions are the same, though. Some are a blast and just wonderful, and others fall a bit short. Here are my thoughts on What you should and shouldn’t do at your Wedding Reception.

What you should and shouldn’t do at your Wedding Reception

I’d like to start off by saying that all of this is my opinion, but it is coming from over 11 years of seeing weddings. There are things that just seem to work better than others. With that said, it is still your wedding reception. Do what fits best with your personality and what you want.

Things you shouldn’t do at your Wedding Reception

1. Don’t try to talk to every guest

Weddings can be pretty big. I feel like on average there are 150 people there. These people are special to you or you wouldn’t have invited them, but don’t try to talk to every single person.

Receptions are already filled with plenty to do. If you spend time talking to every guest, there won’t be time left for anything else. If you spent only 1 minute per guest, that could easily be an hour and a half of talking. Even if you just talked to the tables as a whole, it would be about 5 minutes per table and that would be over an hour.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t visit with your guests, but be purposeful. Spend time with the people that mean the most, not that 3rd cousin you don’t really know. If you are wanting to get to as many people as possible, you can also divide up and cover different parts of the room.

2. Don’t get drunk

I’ve seen some crazy stuff over the years, and it is usually alcohol-related. I’ve seen a groomsman jump from about 15 feet to the ground guys take off their shirts, and people vomit. While all of this is funny, it’s probably not how you want to remember your wedding reception.

groomsmen drinking

There’s nothing wrong with alcohol, but don’t let things get out of hand. Limit the amount drank before the ceremony, so people aren’t hammered by the time the reception starts. Also, keep an eye on the known trouble makers. Have a talk with them beforehand and then stop them before they get out of hand.

3. Don’t have long speeches

Good speeches are a hard thing to pull off. The only thing worse than a bad speech is a long, bad speech. Try to limit the amount of time each person gets to speak. Truthfully, 5 minutes per person in plenty. After that, people tend to lose focus and get bored.

I’d also suggest you be careful about opening it up to anyone in the room. First, this will most likely lead to some horrible speeches. Most people prepare and practice their speech, so these impromptu speeches could be a disaster. Second, this could make speeches go on forever. Once a few people starting talking, everyone feels like they need to share. Next thing you know, it’s been over an hour.

4. Don’t push the exit too late

I’m old, and I hardly stay up past 11 these days. I imagine a good portion of your guests will be the same way. Try to plan your exit at 10 or before.

I know you want your wedding reception to be amazing and be one long party, but most people can’t stay out forever. If you put off the exit till late, most of your guests are going to leave. It’s better to do an early fake exit and have a ton of people, than to wait too late, and have only a few people left.

Things to do at your Wedding Reception

1. Do the traditions

Traditions can be a bit interesting. They are things we’ve been doing for years and years, but in most cases, we don’t know why we do it. There are plenty of traditions at the wedding reception, but not everyone chooses to do them. In general, I think it’s a great idea to do the majority of the traditions.

first dance at wedding black and white

One of the things about traditions is everyone knows them and is expecting them. Doing the traditions give people something to watch, but it also connects them. They can remember their own wedding and doing the same thing.

These are also once in a lifetime opportunities. You will never get another chance for a first dance or to throw a bouquet over your head at a bunch of girls. Besides being really interesting for you and everyone else, these also make great photos that you would miss out on.

2. Show Personality

Your wedding is about the two of you and what makes you two special. Make sure to include things that show your personality and what you care about.

globe for guest book at wedding

There are many ways to add your personality, and it doesn’t always have to be really big and obvious. It could be like your choice of music throughout the day, what you put on your centerpieces, your cakes, or what you give to the guests. It always makes me smile when I see these splashes of personality.

3. Have Alcohol

I think I might lose some people on this one, and that’s perfectly fine. If you are completely against alcohol, then I understand not having it at the wedding reception. For other people, though, alcohol can really make the reception great.

bride partying at wedding

Weddings are a party, and alcohol can help. It can help loosen people up and get them out on the dance floor. It can help people stay longer at the wedding reception. It can help people talk to someone new.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not suggesting people get drunk. That’s too far, but a little bit can make things memorable…in a good way.

4. Schedule time for creative portraits

If you’ve been following my work at all, you probably noticed a do a ton of couple portraits at night. They tend to be a little darker and more dramatic and have some interesting lighting. I love this kind of stuff, and I think it can really give you some unique photos.

fireworks wedding photo

The only way to make this happen is to put it on the schedule. If you don’t schedule it, it most likely won’t happen. The amount of time will vary, but I tend to spend about 15 to 30 minutes doing creative photos. You should want to spend too much time, though, because that’s time away from the party and guests.

5. Schedule the Exit

Most people like to know when something is ending. The same goes for your wedding reception. People will want to plan when to get home and how long the babysitter needs to be there. The exit is the sign that things are over and people can leave.

wedding exit with sparklers

Make sure to schedule the exit and let people know. You can put it on a sign or simply make an announcement. This way, people can know what to expect. If you don’t tell people, often, many of your guests will just leave. If they know the end time, they are more likely to hang around for it.

6. Have a Good Time

This is the biggest thing for me. No matter what happens, make sure you have a good time. The reception is a party and you need to make sure you have a good time. If that means talking to people all night long, do it. If that means dancing for 4 hours, go for it! In the end, it’s your wedding, so do what makes you happy.

fun dancing at wedding

I love wedding receptions! It’s the time of the day where all the stress is gone and people are letting loose and having a good time. There are also so many fun moments at the reception for me to capture like the dances, bouquet toss, and the exit. If you follow most of the things I said above, your wedding reception will go much smoother and I believe it will be more exciting for everyone. Isn’t that what most couples want?

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