The best wedding receptions occur when you can feel the love in the room. It’s magical! You step inside the ballroom and all the guests are engaged. Even if they aren’t on the dance floor, they are swaying in their seats. Every bride and groom wants a wedding reception just like that. Here are my secrets to getting your guests involved in your wedding reception.
1. Start on time: Don’t keep your guests waiting. Sitting around at the ceremony or standing at the cocktail hour (especially outdoors in the heat or cold) for an extended amount of time will frustrate your guests. Frustrated guests typically want to eat, drink and leave.
2. Interact with your guests: Greet as many as you can and thank them for coming. This thoughtful gesture will make each of your guests feel welcome and loved.
3. Add personal touches to the wedding: Old photographs, personalized place cards and memorable songs from life’s milestones will engage your guests and draw them into the evening’s activities.4. Provide conversation starters: If many of your guests don’t know each other, consider having place cards with trivia questions about you and your groom. Questions like “How did Susie and Bob meet?” “Where did Bob propose?” and “Where are Susie and Bob going on their honeymoon?” will get people talking. Be sure to provide answers on the backs of the cards.
5. Be active in your reception: Guests take their cues from the newlyweds. If you are up dancing, your guests will be, too.
6. Play music that appeals to a variety of attendees: Start out with something slow that everyone recognizes and will dance to and build up to the music that you and your friends like as the evening progresses.
7. Keep all entertainment inside the reception room: Anything that draws your guests away from the reception room will detract from the reception. Photo booths, photo presentations, caricature artists, etc. should all be stationed inside the reception room. Save cigar rollers (if you have to go outside to smoke) for the last hour of the reception.
8. Make sure the music isn’t too loud: If the music drowns out conversation at the guests’ tables, they are more likely to walk out of the reception room to take a break from the sound. As the reception room empties, the party will slow down.
9. Keep the party moving: Many brides have asked me if they should move the cake cutting until late in the reception so that more guests will stay. (According to traditional etiquette, it is proper to leave only after the cake is cut). Holding guests “hostage” if they want to leave isn’t a good way to get them involved. I suggest cutting the cake after dinner so that the guests who want to eat dessert and leave will feel comfortable doing so. Leave the partying to those who want to party.
10. Allow group dances: Most people who don’t feel comfortable dancing solo will join a big group on the dance floor. Some couples shy away from them because they think that group dances are “cheesy”. There are so many from which to choose that you and your band or DJ can find one that will work well with your group.
Making sure your guests get involved with your wedding isn’t very difficult; it just takes a bit of planning. Follow a few of the above suggestions and you will most certainly have a magical evening!