Relax at the reception
With your groom, decide what kind of reception you would like. From a casual brunch to a sublime degustation dinner, you can opt for whatever you wish. Just make sure the reception venue you choose will be suited to your needs. Enlist the help of your maid of honour and best man to keep things running smoothly during the day and give everyone in your bridal party a running order so they know what's happening.
THE PERFECT PLACE
When deciding on your location you'll find it beneficial to make a short-list of what's important to you and then get started early, as many prime venues book out months, if not years in advance.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Check availability and tailor your location to the time of the year.
- If you would like to have the ceremony and reception at the same place, are there different areas to hold each part of your celebrations? Is there a - lawn or room for the ceremony, a nice mingling area for canapés, a large indoor space for the reception or a suitable spot to erect a marquee outside?
- Alternatively, are there ceremony locations nearby?
- Does the venue have onsite caterers/can it provide staff?
- Is there a 'cakeage' fee?
- Are items such as linens/lighting provided?
- What audio-visual facilities are available (for speeches or slide shows) and is there room for a DJ or musicians?
- Would you like an indoor or outdoor reception, seated or cocktail style? If you are having a sit down meal, is there enough space to seat all your guests and still have a dance floor?
- If you are opting for an outdoor reception, is there a protected spot in case it should rain on your parade?
- If you are planning a destination wedding, is there a range of accommodation nearby - from luxe and budget to family friendly?
- Go to each of your appointments equipped with a list of questions to discuss with the venue manager or event planner. Be sure to do a walk around of the place, take some photos and make notes. It's also a great idea to bring along your mum, sister or maid of honor so they can ask any questions you forget.
When choosing your reception venue, check whether there are picturesque photo locations nearby.
This can be a tricky process - there are family dynamics to take into account, exes, perhaps a frenemy or two and then some eligible singles! First things first, decide on the bridal table configuration, or a regular table like the rest of your guests. Or you and your husband could choose to have a romantic sweetheart's table - this is a little table just for two with perfect viewing of the festivities. This is a lovely idea to ensure you actually get to spend quality time with your man on the day amid all the excitement.
Next, work out how many tables you will need and determine the shape (such as round, square or long banquet tables). This will depend on the venue space you have selected and the number of guests.
It's possible to avoid assigned seating all together. A cocktail, picnic or buffet reception where people simply find a spare spot or and mingle is a great alternative.
Be sure to set up a system of recording RSVP's when you receive them - otherwise you risk missing someone on your seating chart.
Make sure each table has a few friends or acquaintances so people see a familiar face when they first sit down, but don't be afraid to seat people who you think would get along and have interesting conversation together even if they are perfect strangers - weddings are a great place to meet new people. Most importantly, don't feel pressured into taking seating requests - it is nice to pop some eligible singles together and avoid seating your close friends at the kids' table but other than that - it's your call.
A good way to try out different options is to write names on cards, draw a table to table until you have your ideal set-up. You can mix and match different tables until you get the perfect configuration.
RAISE A GLASS
Speeches are a great opportunity for key family members and friends to regale hilarious anecdotes, give thanks for the occasion and the guests' attendance, and show their appreciation for the bride and groom. Be sure to give your speech givers plenty of notice - at least a month - so they can prepare, which also gives you time to choose a different speaker should anyone decline.
If you're having several speeches on the night be sure to give each person a time limit - two to three minutes per person is ample. Also be sure to schedule them relatively early in the evening, so nervous speakers can get it out of the way and it also helps to ensure no drunken ramblings. Of you could intersperse them during the evening such as between meal courses.
Traditionally, the master of ceremonies starts with a toast to the bride and groom and then introduce the upcoming speakers.
The first speech is the groom's, in which he thanks everyone for coming and says beautiful things about his new wife, followed by the father of the bride and the best man. This is generally where the comedy comes in, but if he's not naturally funny it's better for him to just say something pleasant rather than endure awkward pauses after the punch line.
These days it's perfectly acceptable to mix it up a bit. The bride, rightly so, will often speak, and the maid of honour or the mother of the bride are welcome to say a few words too. It's really up to you and your family.
A SPECIAL SEND OFF
At the end of the festivities it's time for you and your husband to be whisked off to your wedding night accommodation and it's the chance for your guests to give you a wonderful farewell. So make it count with a unique send off:
One lovely tradition is for the guests to form an archway for the couple to run through, which also makes for great photo opportunities. Or why not give your guests some sparklers for a twinkling send off? Bubbles can be delightful for a daytime affair, while a waterside reception venue may allow you to sail away by boat - how romantic!
© The West Australian
More wedding inspiration at The West Australian Wedding Guide.