Five Tips for an Even Better Wedding Reception!

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

Your wedding reception will be a great reflection of you & your partner’s style, musical tastes, and (most importantly) love for each other. But there are some tips that will make your reception even better — regardless of your personal style!

  1. If there’s time between the ceremony and the reception, give your guests something to do. I dont mean that you have to rent out a space for them, but suggest a place for them to go — a coffee shop, a bar, a museum, just something. I one time ended up sitting in a Quiznos for three hours because I was from out of town and didn’t know what else to do or where else to go.
  2. Let your guests know what’s going on — have a program and/or have the DJ/Band/Emcee explain what is happening when. People don’t like to feel out of the loop! Just letting them know that they’ll be eating their meals before the speeches will make people relax and enjoy themselves a bit more — except for maybe the speech-giver.
  3. You won’t be able to create a seating chart that makes everyone happy, but if at all possible, seat people who know each other together — even if one of ’em is single. Singles hate singles tables. It’s awkward! But if the person knows just one other person, try putting them together. It will put everyone at ease.
  4. If you’re not providing transportation for your guests have cab numbers readily available. People drink & they have to get home — make it easy on them!
  5. Take breaths,  enjoy every moment, and HAVE FUN! Your happiness makes everyone else happy. I promise.

There are LOTS of things that you can do to make your reception even better, but these are just a few things that I’ve taken note of over the years. As much as you want this day to be perfect to you, don’t forget that your guests are there for you and don’t want to be forgotten, taken for granted, or left out of the loop. They are there to share in the joy and happiness of the day! So let them! 🙂

Happy wedding!

~ Natasha

Wedding Question: A Reception That’s Weeks After the Ceremony?

We just received this question from a reader….

My husband’s nephew is getting married this October. Only 20 people are invited to the ceremony (we are NOT being invited). We were advised they will, however, be holding a large reception two weeks after the ceremony, to which we ARE invited. My husband feels that the only reason we are being invited to the reception is to give a gift, and does not want to either attend or send a gift. Since his nephew lives in another state, I am tending to agree with him about not going to the reception – it would cost us several hundred dollars in travel expenses. Are we obligated to either attend the reception and/or give a gift? Is it common practice to not be invited to the ceremony, but be expected to attend a later-date reception?

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Photo from The Wedding Lens

First, you are not obligated to attend and you are not obligated to give a gift if you do not attend — contrary to popular belief. It is common practice to give a gift if you do not attend to show the couple that you are supportive of them. It’s completely understandable that financial limitations might restrict your ability to attend the wedding.

Second, although it is not common to have a separate ceremony and reception, more people are doing that these days. People want to do a simple, personal ceremony and then they want to celebrate with their family and friends. While I don’t know your family dynamics. I’m guessing that you weren’t invited just for a gift — more likely you were invited because you’re family! In fact, if you were just wanted for a gift (and not to celebrate) they could have just invited you to the ceremony and not the reception since the reception generally costs a lot more than a ceremony. (Note to couples reading this: do NOT invite guests only to a ceremony and not to a reception)

Hope that helps!! Good luck!

~ Natasha

Need to give a wedding gift? How about an online wedding photo album so that the couple can collect all the photos from their guests?

How To Leave a Wedding Reception Early & Gracefully

Last weekend, I was at a wedding with some friends and we needed to leave before all of the festivities ended. But we debated about whether to say goodbye to the bride and groom. It occurred to me that people probably have this problem a lot.

photo from The Wedding Lens

photo from The Wedding Lens

If you know that you are going to have to leave early, then prepare in advance by telling the bride and groom that you will have to leave (for example, when you RSVP).

If you are there, you enjoy the reception and you want to slip out unnoticed, then you could just do something like go to the bathroom and take off from there. I think that’s a bit rude, but that could just be me! I think you should at least say goodbye to the friends and family who you know.

What a friend told me — and I think is fantastic advice — is that you shouldn’t bother the bride and groom if you are leaving the reception early. He said that at his wedding, it bummed them out when people left and it made them feel like the night was ending. Rather than make them feel bad, he suggested saying goodbye to the parents of the couple (if you know them) so that they feel acknowledged and no one feels like you’re being rude.

What would you want your guests to do?

~ Natasha

Picking Wedding Reception Food!

If you like food, the most fun part of the wedding planning process might be picking out the foods that will be served! As I mentioned in a previous post, you can do a buffet or a sitdown dinner — depending on what suits your needs and desires.

photo from The Wedding Lens

photo from The Wedding Lens

If you do a sitdown, you might want to ask your guests to request their food choice in advance (such as on a card that comes with the invitation) or you might have a deal with the venue that can take care of the orders on the day of. Remember, depending on the time of day (and therefore the meal you serve), the meal can cost less or more! You may also decide to try a finger food option — in which case, these same considerations would apply!

Regardless of the form, you need to bear in mind certain things when selecting which foods will be available to choose from (whether at the buffet or while sitting down).

  • Vegetarians – please have an option! Bear in mind that some vegetarians don’t eat fish and if you know that some of your guests have this dietary restriction, make sure you have something like grilled veggies and salad so that they don’t starve! Obviously it’s great if you can come up with a vegetarian/tofu dish that would be acceptable to non-fish-eating vegetarians, but that’s not always possible at the venue or at the price you’re looking for. So just be sure that your vegetarian friends don’t go hungry!
  • Peanuts. Coconut. Milk. Spices. Weird combination of foods to put together? True! But these are just a few things that MANY people are either allergic to or have special aversions to. My point is not that you shouldn’t have these things, but that extreme flavors can be tough for people. A few years ago, I went to a wedding where ALL of the food was incredibly, incredibly spicy New Mexican food. So spicy. My mouth is burning thinking about it.  Not only did a lot of people have a hard time eating, but it was also a bad combination with the champagne and wine served. Many upset stomachs!! Again, I’m not saying you cant do it, but have options for those who might be sensitive or have common allergies to foods.
  • Get what you want!!! Despite what I just said, you can’t cater to everyone’s desires. Be sure you get what you want to eat and what you’ll be happy eating yourself!

I recently went to a wedding where the options at the buffet were 2 different kinds of salads, grilled veggies, pasta with mushrooms in a light cream sauce, a rosemary chicken, and an herbed salmon. And bread and butter. I think it was a great combination and made a lot of people happy!

What is your favorite wedding food?

~ Natasha

Planning an After Party

One of the latest trends in wedding planning has nothing to do with planning the wedding OR planning the reception. Rather, it’s planning the party AFTER the reception!

bride at the after party in a bar!

bride at the after party in a bar!

WHY do you want to plan something else?? Well, a lot of people like hanging out afterwards, in a more relaxed environment. Some people even change their clothes between the reception and the afterparty, for maximum relaxation! And other people who cant have a big wedding reception would prefer that the afterparty be the big party!

WHERE do you plan an after party? Depends on what you’re looking for. After the last wedding I went to, the couple asked everyone to go to a local Irish pub to hang out. It added no expense to their costs and they got to hang out with everyone longer. Plus, most of the “grownups” didn’t go, so they really got to spend time with their friends.

Another option is to have people come back to someone’s house and have some snacks and drinks to hang out there. It’s obviously a little more homey and it costs a bit more, but it has the same effect of getting to see everyone just a little bit more.

If you want some clever ideas, how about karaoke or a swanky bar or asking friends to utilize their mini bar?

What if you dont want to do this in advance?? Well, if you dont want to plan in advance, but you want to gather people — play it by ear! After all, formal etiquette need not apply. Most friends who are at weddings together want to hang out afterwards, so everyone can just find a hotel bar to hang out at afterwards. I went to another wedding where the couple chose to join their friends at their hotel bar — even though the couple was staying elsewhere. It ended up being their very closest friends, so they really enjoyed having the extra time.

Do you have any suggestions for after party ideas? Share ’em!

~ Natasha

Summer of Wedding Blog Posts

In honor of the 4th of July weekend (and just passing our first anniversary as a blog!), here’s the top Blogs Posts on TheWeddingsLens Blog — as rated by YOU! Well, okay, I’ll create a list of our favorites too. Since you asked.

  1. How to Choose the Right Wedding Gown  (which is actually right up there with Colorful Wedding Dresses!)
  2. 75 Cheap Wedding Tips
  3. How to Create a Seating Chart
  4. How to Write Wedding Vows
  5. Which Flowers are in Season for a Wedding
  6. How to Ask for Gift Cards or Money
  7. Photobooth at the Wedding Reception
  8. Creative Guestbook Ideas
  9. Invitations and Bringing a Date to the Wedding
  10. How to Pick Vendors for Your Wedding

The most read engagement story? Nicole & Kate’s Engagement Story (who just had a beautiful wedding and are using The Wedding Lens to share their photos with their guests!)

Our favorite blog post – aside from those above? Well, it’s tied, I think. Three ways. Or Four. I’d do five, but we’ll be here all day as I list through all the rest of ’em trying to decide. 🙂

  1. How to Plan Your Own Wedding (without a wedding planner)
  2. 50 Green Wedding Tips
  3. How to Meet Your Boyfriend at a Wedding (my personal fav!)
  4. Top 10 Reasons to Use The Wedding Lens (duh!)

Three things I notice — the “how to” blog posts seem to do a lot better than the others (generally) and we need you to submit more engagement stories! Email ’em to

What’s your favorite The Wedding Lens Blog Post ?

~ Natasha

To Buffet or Not to Buffet: Food at the Wedding Reception

I just came back from a weekend at a beautiful wedding where the couple chose to have a buffet dinner at the wedding reception. In between bites, our table talked about great it was that we got to taste everything. It occurred to me that this must be something that couples struggle with: whether to have a buffet or a served dinner and what to serve!

photo from The Wedding Lens

photo from The Wedding Lens

Why have a buffet?

  • guests get to try many different types of food
  • can easily satisfy dietary requirements or needs, if any (eg vegetarians)
  • usually a little less expensive

The other thing about a buffet is that you CAN set it up so that you need not hire waitstaff — another expense. An article on Wedaholic suggests that you can get people to bus their own plates to a table or location that the venue recommends AND that you can put the champagne or wine on each table with a bottle opener so people can take care of it on their own.

Some people don’t like the informality of  a buffet and would prefer a more formal, sitdown meal. In that case, there are usually selections that guests make for food — sometimes in advance and sometimes on the day of.

Why have a sit down meal?

  • More formal
  • Can ask people to order what they want in advance, so you can predict amounts/portions
  • Can select food options that work for most people (and for your budget)

What will you do?

~ Natasha

Best of The Wedding Lens Blog

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided that it would be nice to review some of the “Best of” blogs.  This is based on your comments, number of views, and the feedback that I have received. So without further ado….

Since those posts were created, we also developed two FABULOUS lists. One is 75 Cheap Wedding Tips and the other is 50 Green Wedding Tips. We think these lists will help you plan cost-effective, green weddings by doing small things that don’t compromise the quality, class, and dream wedding you’ve always imagined. 

Also, always remember to consider our FREE photo albums for your wedding!

Do you have other favorites? Tell us!

~ Natasha