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Whilst your wedding ceremony is the key part of the day (as it’s when you are officially married!), its the reception part of the day when you can relax and enjoy yourselves! Your guests are probably looking forward most to this part of the day, so they can eat drink, dance as well as celebrate with you both.

The best receptions really show off your personalities as a couple with unique touches, as well are careful planning to make things run smoothly and everyone has fun until the last dance. Keep reading on to find out how to plan the day from your drinks reception, speeches and making your party one to remember!


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Your suppliers will have a massive impact on your wedding reception so choose them carefully. Ask your venue for recommendations, many will be familiar with how the venue work in terms of catering options and what they need staffing wise.

The key thing to make sure of is that there is someone to coordinate on the day to make sure your guests are sat down to eat at the right time; and that there are enough staff to man the bar and to clear away tables if you are using the same room for your reception. A lot of venues are ‘dry hire’ meaning that they simply provide the empty space, if you have a venue like this it is worth hiring a wedding planner to organise for you in advance of the day and for on the day coordination.

Make sure your suppliers work with the type of day your are creating and what you want from the day.


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Make sure that your timeline for the day has plenty of ‘buffer time’ built in. If you reception venue is at a different location, add on at least an extra 30 min travel time.  I would advise having a minimum of two hours for your drinks reception. This means you will have plenty of time for your group and couple photos and wont feel rushed. You want to make sure that you can enjoy a drink and spend time with your guests. As long as there is plenty of food and drink (see tip 5) your guests will be happy chatting and enjoying a drink and canape so don’t worry about guests being bored.


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Planning your group shots in advance allows you to get back to enjoying your day quicker. Keep your wedding party and guests prepared for the group shots, if you are doing a timeline plan board or putting one in your order of service put the time for group shots into it so people know they will be needed.

Make a shot list in advance of the wedding (I will ask you for this so i can be prepared) so that the process runs smoothly on the day. It also means that any shots that are important to you don’t get forgotten about. Let the people who you are having in the shots know you would love them for your photos so they can stay around and we can find them easier.

Allocate a helper who knows the people in the shots for each of you. Give them the list in advance of the day, and a printed copy on the day (I bring a copy with me too). While I’m photographing they can be getting the next people ready or find them if they have gone wandering off.  This means I can focus on positioning everyone, making them feel comfortable and look relaxed.

For more tips of planning your group shots jump over to my group shots blog HERE.


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Most of your guests will be happy to chat and catch up with friends and family, so make sure that any plans for your entertainment are optional. Plan something unexpected entertainment such as a magician, walk about entertainers, dancers or keep it laid back with a jazz band or musician. If you have children coming; keep them entertained with garden games, or a toy corner hire a babysitter to allow all the parents to relax.


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Everyone will always remember the food and drink, so don’t let your guests go hungry. Ask yourselves what you want to eat and plan from there.  Guests are likely to be feeling peckish after your ceremony, particularly if they’ve been travelling and have missed lunch. Make sure there are plenty of canapes or a table of lighter snacks to keep everyone going.  A drinks station is also a fantastic option, pimp your prosecco or gin is a great idea…or if you are keeping it Scottish go for a whiskey tasting!

Don’t worry about having a sit down 3+ course meal; sharing planners or more laid back options such as a gourmet buffet station can be great if you are having a more relaxed day. Also, you want to party late into the evening, think of your evening buffet food to keep everyone going. Food truck style foods such as pizza and doughnuts make a more unique options that your typical bacon rolls.


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Your wedding day needs to reflect you both as a couple and feel right for you both. If you are a laid back couple, your guests won’t be expecting a formal style of day. Pick a venue that will allow you to plan your day how you want it, speak to them for suggestions or hire a wedding planner to help you out. Add in decor that is right for you both and the venue, think of the details.

Top tip if you want epic detail shots form your day: don’t let your guests into the reception room before they are called in. Get your wedding coordinator to give you both a look before your guests come in so you can see it all set up and looking EPIC.


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When you start planning, think about making your guests as comfortable as possible. Make sure there is plenty of parking, toilets and baby changing facilities so people can feel relaxed from the moment they arrive. Make sure there is plenty of seating, particularly for your drinks and evening reception. A great idea is to provide a small emergency toiletries kit in the toilets including plasters, mints and deodorant and other items they may have forgotten about or need. Blankets are also a great option for winter weddings when your guests might get a wee bit chilly at night.

Thank of your seating plan, make sure you put people together who will get along well and think of any family issues. The wedding meal is a great chance for your friends and family to meet new people and lead to a fun filled evening reception as everyone gets to know each other.


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Keep your speeches short and sweet, 5 mins per speaker is enough for them to tell some awesome stories and you both as a couple. Longer stories or anecdotes can be told the day after or at a rehearsal dinner.  Ask your speakers to write down or print their speeches rather than reading them off a mobile phone, this gives a much more elegant feel to your speeches and you can keep the paper as a lovely memento of your day.


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All eyes will be on you for your first dance so plan something that will WOW your guests. Rehearse a dance, go for confetti canons or smoke. If you don’t feel comfortable dancing in your wedding dress, change into a more comfortable option such as a shorter dress or jumpsuit.

Make sure your band or DJ really get you and the style of music you want from the reception. Ask for playlists or send them over a list of must have (and also must avoid!) songs. Don’ be afraid to be different, know what your friends and family will get up on the dance floor to.

Ask your guests on your RSVP for a song that will get them up on the dance floor and make sure it’s on your playlist. If you are planning a ceilidh, ask your band to do a 30 min set, or mix them into their playlist to make sure everyone enjoys the evening (unless you are all mega ceilidh fans then go for it!)


Plan a fun surprise to end your day; pick an epic-last dance song (auld lang syne is always perfect for a scottish wedding!), have fireworks, a sparkler exit or give your guests a memento to take home Give your guests something to remember and don’t just let the party fizzle out.

Let me know what you think! If there is anything you think I’ve missed, leave a comments below!


If you love the look of my work and are looking for a wedding photographer, please get in touch.


Loraine x