A Reception to Remember

So, you have been dreaming of and planning your wedding ceremony since you were five years old. But, let's talk about the other part of your day: your reception. Your guests are looking forward to your reception -- why not make it something they will never forget?

Themes might be the easiest way to get creative when planning entertainment, decor', and atmosphere. But it can be easy to take something the wrong direction. For the sake of making my point, say your dream reception has a circus theme. You could have your caterer sculpt a clown car out of cheese and crackers. Or perhaps a more elegant and appropriate way to set the tone would be to string white lights to fashion a sort of "Big Top" tent.

Here are a few reception elements that you may want to consider no matter what your theme:

Photobooths: Ever so popular, the photo booths allow guests to cut loose and show their true colors--on film! Provide props likes masks, sports equipment, costumes, or a white board for writing messages to add to the fun. You can make one yourself by setting up a little vignette and ask a trusted friend with a decent digital camera to man the photo station. Though your friends won't get pictures on the spot they'll still be excited to get their face in the frame, and you can post pictures on your online photo album later.

Magician:  Consider hiring an entertainer who can walk around and do slight of hand for each table. Your guests will love the mystifying close up card and coin tricks, the personal entertainment, and opportunity for strangers to have a shared experience to break the ice. My husband has had the opportunity to work this sort of crowd on numerous occasions and found it enjoyable and a welcome diversion for guests.

Dancing: Dancing at receptions can be a huge success or a huge flop. Make sure you choose a DJ who is receptive to your song choices. A good trick with dancing at the reception is to give it a little twist. One idea is to play music from consecutive eras. You'll be sure to draw some of your older guests to the dance floor earlier on and then the more current songs will pump up your younger guests. Going with a vintage theme? Hire a dance instructor to offer mini dance lessons in the waltz, fox trot, swing, and maybe rumba to spice things up. Whether you change this wedding reception staple or not, be sure to participate. Nothing kills a dance party like a timid bride and groom, so whoop it up I say!

Slide show: Many couples choose to include a photo slide show during the reception. Often set to music, baby pictures all the way through engagement pictures are displayed in an emotional recap of their lives apart and then together. While you could have this playing in the background so guests can watch at their leisure, why not make this a feature presentation? There are tons of songs, including A Page is Turned, that can help to tell your story in a cohesive and inspiring way.

If cocktails, dancing, magicians, and slideshows aren't enough...there's always food! Find a caterer with a chocolate fountain and you'll never hear a bad thing about your reception. For a Christmas wedding, provide plain sugar cookies and decorating supplies and let guests assemble their own favors. For a summer wedding set up an ice cream sundae bar and watch their cares melt away!

So there you have it, a few things to think about as you plan your sure-to-be stellar reception. Even though your guests are happy to simply be there to celebrate with you, providing creative reception elements can be one way to express your appreciation for their love and support. It doesn't have to break the bank, but putting some thought into your reception can make it go from "was I there?" to "remember when!"