Anyone who’s had the pleasure of attending more than a few weddings knows that each is as unique as the couples themselves. Even two weddings in the same reception venue can feel completely different, thanks to those devilish details such as music, styling, seating arrangements and, well, a certain energy. The difference between guests partying into the night or making a swift exit after the cutting of the cake can lie in the simplest combinations of elements, that together create a kind of alchemy that colours everyones memories of the occasion. Having witnessed our fair share of wedding receptions, here are our top tips for a seriously spectacular (memorable for all the right reasons) party….
Enlist the experts
Seriously, even if you’re having an intimate, teeny tiny wedding, the more details you hand over to the professionals and the less you have to ‘oversee’ (read: the less stressed you’ll be) on the day – the more magical it will be on the night. Both for you & your guests. Because it will allow you to be more ‘present’ and in the moment. Ultimately, invest in a wedding planner and/or wedding stylist, to bring your dream to life and most importantly they can be that single touch point for everyone else’s communication in the lead up. Trust us on this one.
Don’t leave guests hanging
Those hours between ceremony & reception (when we’re busy taking your portrait photos) can feel a little bit ‘all dressed up and no where to go’ for your guests. Nothing dissipates the loved up ceremony energy like a yawning gap while waiting for the reception to kick off. Ultimately, catering for your guests with an aperitivo cocktail hour – or at least a place to perch with a glass of celebratory bubbles while they wait for your return – is ideal. However if your celebration is split between totally seperate venues (say a Church ceremony & a restaurant reception) be sure to have a champagne or cocktail waiting on arrival, getting guests straight into the swing of things right away.
Choose your MC wisely
Is there anything more awkward than watching someone slightly uncomfortable with a microphone, trying to navigate a microphone? For several hours? A relaxed MC has all your guests feeling relaxed too. Throw in a natural sense of humour and things flow even better on the night. So when delegating this all important role, ask that friend or family member who will legitimately shine and who relishes public speaking. They set the tone for most of the formal proceedings and will have your guests genuinely excited to hear what’s happening next.
Space out your speeches (or keep them blessedly short)
We’ve all been to those weddings where the speeches just.kept.on.going. You know those receptions, where the hit-list of intended speakers can dissolve into an open mic night for the second uncle removed and the distant work colleague who ‘just has a few words to share’. Too many speeches can be a serious buzz kill when everyone is itching to hit that dance floor. Our advice? Keep the ‘speakers’ worded up on the appropriate time limit (7-8 minutes max – the length of the adult attention span), have a run sheet, and make sure your MC sticks to it. Also consider spacing the speeches between courses versus all in one go, or scheduling one or two earlier in the proceedings, say during cocktail hour, delivered in a more informal setting.
Great Food, Really
That oft cited myth ‘no one really eats at weddings anyway’? Not true. Ok it may be true for the bride (who’s often too euphoric to remember to eat) but for everyone else, when so many glasses of bubbles are being consumed over a typical 8 hour celebration period, keeping guests nourished goes a long way towards stamina (& sobriety) later into the evening. Our hot tip? Allow for plenty of grazing options throughout the afternoon and evening, particularly between ceremony and reception (the champagne danger zone!) or surprise guests with an 11pm supper station – always a hit.
A killer soundtrack
You know those films that you remember for the music alone? The cult classics from directors like Tarantino or Baz Luhrmann. Think about the kind of ‘mood’ you want to evoke, then once again, enlist the experts. Whether you plan on having a live band, a DJ, or ultimately both, the aim of the game is that the music they play reflects the taste of both you as couple and that of your human tribe. Ideally you’ve seen these professionals in action first hand (maybe performing at a friends wedding) but if not, it’s totally ok to ask if they have any upcoming events you can pop by, to observe them doing their thing, and see if they might be a good fit for your celebration. Also consider including in your wedding RSVP guests to each nominate ’One song guaranteed to get you on the dance floor’ . Curate this list of tunes and pass it over to your DJ or band for the ultimate personalised playlist on the night.
Magical Lighting
Stunning lighting has to be the singular most effective and spectacular way to create a memorable atmospheric reception. Think an aerial web of fairy lights lining a marquee or suspended above a dance floor, a trail of candles guiding guests from space to space or lanterns glittering in trees, candelabras running the lengths of a ballroom reception or a magnificent central chandelier. After dark is when guests slip into a truly celebratory mood – and the right lighting does a lot of the heavy lifting in creating much of the magic.
Sensory Imprints
The senses (particularly taste & smell) are the most vivid visceral reminders and triggers for our memories in years to come. With that in mind, consider creating ‘sensory’ moments throughout your event that will imprint on guests, having them forever associate that taste or smell with your celebration. Think a signature cocktail (with a romantic back story – perhaps a drink you courted over?), or consider burning candles in abundance, filling the space with a specific ’scent of your wedding’.
Send guests home with just such a sensory impression. Something that will continue to imprint long after the party. A miniature version of the candle you burnt on the night, a signature blended essential oil that reflects notes of the ‘season’ you were married in or the flowers at your reception. Maybe favourite exotic chocolate blocks (with incredible paper packaging) or beautifully boxed salts, for the kitchen or the bathtub. Guests will be transported with each use, fondly recalling an incredible night to remember.
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