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Wedding Reception Series- Part One: How To Plan your Drinks Reception

Hey Guys, so I've decided to create you a 3 part blog and youtube series on your wedding reception! I break the wedding reception down into the sections, so I figured why not do the same for you, with 3 digestible pieces of information to help you plan your wedding reception!

So let's dive into PART ONE!

Ok the first part of your wedding reception is the drinks reception. This is the first part of your wedding day where you begin socialising with your guests as husband and wife. In fact it's the first part of your day you're socialising with your guests period!

It comes straight after your ceremony. Now if you are getting married in a church or separate venue to your wedding reception, you are likely to have a few photos at your ceremony locations, then head over to your reception venue. If you are in one location for the whole day, then you will smoothly transition from the ceremony straight into the drinks reception.

Photo By Ross Hurley Photography

So lets first of all go over the structure........

The drinks reception follows on from the ceremony as I’ve just mentioned. You will then have photographs with your photographer. Whether they are split between locations (if you're at 2 different locations) or all at one place, you are likely to have some couples shots straight after the ceremony. This is a lovely opportunity to be just the 2 of you (and your photographer obviously), before mingling with the rest of your guests. It doesn't take longer than 30 minutes usually. Then you will likely move on to meet and mingle with your guests. If you want some set up group shots, then these would happen next. It's a good idea to get your bridesmaids and ushers involved here by giving them the shot list. They are likely to know the majority of the guests between them and can help with getting the right people for each photo on the list.

Photo By Ross Hurley Photography

At this point the rest of your guests will be enjoying a glass of bubbly or another drink, along with some canapes which are basically 'small bites'. You may have some activities set up to entertain your guests, or you may have gone for music and conversation as their entertainment.

Once the drinks reception is over, someone will call the guests to the dining room to take their seats for the wedding breakfast.

So as you can see in terms of structure this part of your day is pretty straightforward.

In my opinion the golden length of time for your drinks reception is 1.5 hours. It's not too short, nor is it too long. People won't have got too hungry or bored or too drunk if you are providing alcohol. That is definitely one to bear in mind! I wouldn't have it any longer than 2 hours as a maximum and 1 hour is too short as you won't have time to speak to guests around doing some photos.

Photo By Sophie Duckworth Photography

So let's talk food and drink........

It is traditional to serve champagne, but that doesn't suit everyones taste or budget and most couples nowadays serve Prosecco instead. You can then serve an alterantive acloholic drink such as a Pimms cocktail or an Aperol spritz, perhaps a Kir Royale? It tends to be a cocktail of some kind, but the options are endless. Perhaps you want to serve your favourite cocktail for your guests?

There should always be a soft drink option as well as water and some guests decide to serve bottled beer as well, but that is optional. In fact everything is optional. The best thing to do is have an idea of what you would like, then speak to your caterer or venue depending on who is serving the drinks. If you are providing your own alcohol, then remember to check for corkage fees and liaise with who will be serving it.

Photo By Sophie Duckworth Photography

For the canapes it is much more common for couples to serve savoury food. Some do decide to serve sweet, such as strawberries and chocolate. My piece of advice here is you want your guests to line their stomachs a little bit. They don't want to be absolutely starving when they head into the wedding breakfast. They are also most likely to be drinking alcohol, so savoury heavier food is often a choice that goes down well with your guests. Liaise with your caterer over any dietary requirements for certain guests. They will also advice you on quantities.

Photo By Sophie Duckworth Photography

So let's discuss different ideas and adding a personal touch to your drinks reception........

So firstly, don't forget to think about music options for your drinks reception. For example my clients over the years have had an acoustic guitarist, shanty singer, used a Spotify playlist, a harpist, a small acoustic set, string quartet and so the list goes on.

Photo By Ross Hurley Photography

You can add personalisation in your drinks as I briefly touched on earlier. Choosing your favourite cocktail? Having a his and hers cocktail available at your drinks reception is always fun!? You can create little signs for them, so guests no what they are and what's in them. The signs themselves start to add a bit of your personality. You may want to class your drinks reception as 'cocktail hour' (it'll obviously be a bit longer than hour).

Have a think about alternative entertainment. Do you want mini golf, lawn games, a bouncy castle? Kids activities? A styled up seating area? An photo set up with an outdoor sofa a flower wall?

Photo By Ross Hurley Photography

You can do all of the above, or none of the above. Work with your budget, your personality and get creative.

So there you have it. A pretty straightforward part of your day. But there are options to really make it into something a little bit more if you wanted to.

Lauren x


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