Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding Reception Etiquette

Wedding Reception Etiquette

The bride and groom have said I do, he’s kissed the bride and they’re officially husband and wife. Now it’s time to get the party started! 

The wedding reception is a celebratory occasion for the newlyweds and their guests to live it up and have some fun. Want to make sure your guests have the best time? Here are some reception etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Respect your guests’ time.

Weddings can be a time-intensive affair. Respect your guests’ time by minimizing the time in-between the ceremony and the reception. Too much free time between the ceremony and reception can leave your guests feeling hungry (and cranky). 

Is your ceremony at a different venue from your reception? Is a large time gap in between inevitable? Keep your guests entertained and catered to with a nice cocktail hour. Ultimately, you want to make sure there are no moments where your guests are sitting or standing around with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Keep your guests well-hydrated.

We know weddings are expensive and the bar bill for a reception is no exception. With that being said, it’s impolite to ask your guests to pay for drinks at your wedding. It's understandable if you can’t afford to have an open bar but there are ways to cut costs without resorting to a cash bar. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Showcase your personality with creative signature cocktails. Serving a signature drink during your cocktail hour is a good idea because it gives you the opportunity to choose less expensive brand of alcohol and inexpensive mixers.
  • Stick to wine and beer.
  • Bring your own alcohol: Find out if your reception site allows you to bring your own alcohol. If they do, buy your drinks of choice by the case saving you 10-15% off the cost of purchasing individual bottles.
  • Have a limited open bar.

Seat people based on interests.

Weddings are a social experience and a great occasion for interesting conversations. When planning your seating arrangement, don’t haphazardly group people together based on marital status (goodbye singles table!) and family connections. 

Instead, facilitate social interaction by seating people based on common interests. Analyze your guest list, find shared connections and group guests with similar interests, jobs or hobbies. If your friend Dave is really into photography and your cousin Ashley and her husband Nick are professional photographers, seat them at the same table.

Make time to thank your guests.

Your guests came out to celebrate you and your partner on a very special day. Make sure you set aside time during the reception to thank them for being there. You do this by making the rounds to each table after dinner. If you can, try to say something personal and sincere to each guest. Just make sure to keep moving and don't get held up at one table for too long.

Feed your vendors.

Your vendors play a huge role in your wedding, working five to eight hours to make your big day special. The last thing you want is their energy levels to drop as soon as the party gets started. Who wants a tired DJ or a low-energy photographer? Plan on feeding any wedding vendors who will play a role in the reception. This includes the wedding planner, DJ or band photographer and videographer, plus their assistants. Designate a quiet area where they can eat during their break.

Bonus tip: Gifts For the Wedding-Party

Your bridesmaids and groomsmen play a special role in your wedding. From the bachelorette and bachelor parties, to planning the bridal shower and keeping you calm as you get ready on the big day, they’re there for you through thick and thin. As a gesture of appreciation, it’s tradition to give each person a thoughtful thank you gift.

Want to get them something personalized and unique? We’ve got just the thing! Our custom name signs would make the perfect addition to any home. Each sign can be customized to include imagery to match each person’s personality and the best part? They won’t break the bank! Each sign name sign ranges from $75 to $150 and includes free shipping. Thank your wedding party with a gift they’re sure to love!