6 Ways You Can Make or Break Your Own Wedding Reception

It’s your party. And while it’s hard to understate the effect that the DJ, the musicians or the catering director can have on the success of your wedding, there are two people who always matter more: You and your fiance.

If you want a reception that ranks high on the “happy” meter, it’s important to know your role. You are the guest of honor. Other guests are not only celebrating your love – they’re also following your lead as they enjoy themselves.

Here are 6 do’s and don’ts to make it easy.

1. Don’t wear a watch.

Most couples spend a lot of time before the wedding designating toasts, imagining events and making song requests. That’s good! But when the party starts, it’s the job of your MC or wedding coordinator – or both – to keep an eye on the schedule. If you’re worried about what’s next, it’s harder to be in the moment – and the moment is just where you want to be.

2. Don’t watch the budget.

You thought a lot about money when you were planning the wedding – and again, that's good! But trying to pinch pennies during the reception takes your focus off of people. Example: I played a wedding where a bride asked me to lie to guests – announcing “last call” an hour before the bar closed – so that they would drink more and she’d get more mileage from her open bar. At another I attended, the hosts compelled guests to dance as soon as the band was on the clock – even though most people were still eating. Moves like this look good on paper, but they make your guests feel more like cattle than honored loved ones.

make-break side3. Don’t leave the party.

I was once at a wedding where the entire bridal party went upstairs to smoke in a hotel room. After about 15 minutes, there was a noticeable lag in the party. Then the bride and groom returned – and so did their guests! Your food may be great and your music might be a knockout, but your guests came here to be with you. If you don’t want to be part of the main event, there’s a good chance they won’t either.

4. Do get on the dance floor.

Want a lot of dancing at your wedding? The best thing you can do is lead the way. Guests want to be with the people they like. At your wedding, that means you.

5. Do greet your guests.

To feel like part of your party, guests need to feel connected to you. Though it’s not my favorite, holding a receiving line after your ceremony is one way to accomplish this. Another is to visit dining tables during dessert. At my wedding, my wife and I delivered a pie to each table in person – it gave us a good excuse to visit everyone, and a good excuse to keep moving so we never got stuck.

6. Do have fun!

Remember your role – you are not your wedding’s host, its organizer, or its employee. The guest of honor is a guest, and a guest’s job is to relax and be taken care of. One of our DJs said something a long time ago that has become a sort of mantra around the Backthird office: “A relaxed bride is a happy bride.” And where happy brides go, happy guests are sure to follow!

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