Let’s talk about parties!
(Specifically, the best party – your wedding reception.)
Last month, we explored some of the magical design possibilities for a beautiful ceremony. There are so many details to think about, so we’re using this blog series as a way to break down and dive deep into each item. This blog series will culminate in a full detail check list for you to use while planning. But first, let’s look at all the pieces that can make your day spectacular! We’ll start by going over the top three things people notice when they walk into the reception space: seating, cake, and table design.
First thing’s first – how will you communicate to your guests where they sit? In less formal situations, it’s totally fine to skip the seating chart. Most of the time, however, you’ll want something in order to maximize seating with the fewest number of tables. Since this will likely be the first thing people see, you could go with a beautiful and simple seating chart. Here are some amazing examples! Which is your favorite?
Another option is to provide a table or area with alphabetically arranged “escort cards”. These are not the same as place cards (which we’ll get to later). Escort cards are often simple, containing just the guest’s name and table number, but you can get creative here too!
The next thing people usually notice is the wedding cake. A trend in recent years that I’ve noticed most couples going with is something simple and minimalistic:
Larger, more traditional cakes, however are making a comeback and can be phenomenal room centerpieces:
If you’re thinking you want to go all out, take this opportunity to showcase some true pastry art. I love beautiful, artistic cakes!
Photo Credit: Jenny Mundy Photo
Of course, I always encourage thinking a little outside the box. Not everyone loves cake (I know…), and there are tons of cute, unique alternatives: pies, cookies, ice cream, donuts, cupcake, etc.
Whatever you go with, remember that the cake (or other wedding dessert) is often the focal point of the room. It has a huge impact on the overall aesthetic of your reception, as does the next important thing on your list: table layout and design.
Most venues provide tables and therefore can provide a layout specific to what they think best fits the space. But remember – this is your reception. If you have something else in mind, consider bringing in rental tables or moving around what you already have to re-envision the space.
And while you’re thinking about reception seating, don’t forget about you, your partner, and the bridal party! The most popular option here would be a traditional Head Table where you and your bridal party face everyone (with the happy couple at the center). You can also do a King’s Table with you and your partner on the end (your wedding party on either side), or a Sweetheart Table (just you and your newly minted married partner!).
You’ll also want to take into account other structural elements of the room. How big is it? Does it have high ceilings? If your space has high ceilings, consider string lighting to make your space feel cozy.
Here are some beautiful examples:
Photo Credit: Hannah Crabb | Anne Buskirk
Once you’ve thought about your layout, you can have fun tackling florals and centerpieces. What have you been imagining for this day? If you were absolutely in love with the floral choices from your ceremony, you can collaborate with your florist and use a variation of that here (or even some complimentary greenery). If you were inspired by the geometric arches in our previous blog, continue that theme with similar, multi-level pieces.
If you’re wanting to create a more romantic atmosphere, consider adding candles. Your venue might have some restrictions here, so be sure to have your planner reach out ahead a time to see what you can (or cannot) bring in.
Photo Credit: Monahan Photography
No matter what direction you go in, you’ll want to leave space to eat! Here’s a breakdown of what a typical place setting might include at a wedding reception (with pictures, of course):
- Chargers – these are the plates that go under dinner plates to signify a place setting (and add an extra flair).
- Napkins – sometimes your caterer or venue will provide these, but feel free to explore options from other vendors.
- Silverware – just like with the napkins, you can go a very classic route, or take a fun, unexpected turn.
- Drinkware – since your caterer or bar should be able to provide the glassware, adding this to your table set up can be considered optional. If you think things look incomplete without it, renting is likely your best option!
- Printables – some couples choose to add printed versions of the menus at each spot, so guests know what to expect (or know what they have to choose from if options are being provided). If meals were chosen through the RSVP process, you’ll want to make sure there’s a place card at each seat. (It’s important to note that this will help any catering or serving staff get the right meals out to the right people).
Let us know in the comments – did we forget something you love? Or were you inspired by a particular detail above that you hadn’t seen before?