Along with spring comes proposals and weddings. Girls hope for a ‘ring by spring’ and reception centers quickly get booked up. It is wedding season and for LDS brides and grooms it’s a time to get a little creative. Many look for a few ways to spruce up their reception, especially when faced with our own cultural norms. We know the reception should revolve around the couple and the temple ordinances without extravagant extras getting in the way. However, there are always fun and cute ideas to make the reception a fantastic, yet appropriate celebration. Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Let Guests Pose as Photographers
Phones are a way of life. Unless you’re going for an unplugged wedding, most of your guests will have some sort of camera on them. As long as you work with your photographer, your guests can capture some great moments! This is especially great if you can’t afford a professional photographer. Post signs around your reception with your own personalized hashtag for social media. Guests can use their phones to photograph and video your special day, and with your hashtag they can easily make the footage available to you. Another idea is Polaroid cameras or disposable cameras. Again, make simple signs asking guests to use the cameras and to leave them at the end of the night. Photo booths are a great idea as well. Photo booths can be rented or easily created.
Post Photos Around the Room
Let guests dazzle over your romance by posting engagement and other photos around the room. If you took your formal photos ahead of time, hang those up as well. Put them in cute frames, or even tape them up on a wall. This will definitely make the reception all about your love story and give guests something to admire as they chat and celebrate your wedding. Photos are normal, but strategically placing them will help everyone feel involved, no matter what they’re doing.
Don’t Forget to Make a Toast
For LDS receptions, it is fairly common to have a bishop preside over a simple ring ceremony and to give a short speech. This tradition can be made more personal if the bishop passes the microphone to a father, mother, or close relatives. They can also give a small speech and perhaps ask the guests to toast with their fruit punch or water with lemon. Suggest ahead of time that the chosen speakers keep it short and simple, perhaps with a few jokes to keep the mood happy and light. Don’t just cut cake, eat, and quietly exchange rings. Let someone say something more personal. You could even prepare vows ahead of time that you frame. You can take a special moment to read them silently, and allow guests to read them as well. This is a great idea if you have a lot of non-members who weren’t able to attend the sealing.
Make the First Dance Special
Let the groom grab a mic and ask everyone to gather around the dance floor. There, the groom can ask the bride to dance, loud and clear. By drawing attention to the couple, and with everyone gathered around, it truly will be a special moment. Often times, the dance floor is dreaded and it is hard to get the partying started. Guests are chatting and eating, busy with each other or on their phones. Bringing everyone to the dance floor will allow room for all to dance, just as soon as the first dance is over. It is a much easier way to get all involved in the dancing. The bride will know that this is planned, but it will be up to the groom to decide at what point in the reception he wants to dance with his bride, or they can choose a time together.
Forget the Receiving Line
Forget the traditional receiving lines. Many within wedding parties dislike it and many guests dislike the idea of waiting in line to say hello to a majority of people that they do not know. If you’re hooked on the idea of guests lining up to greet grandparents, parents, and siblings, perhaps consider cutting down the number of people in the family who are in the receiving line. You could limit it to just the couple and the parents from both sides, or some even go as far to cut it down to just the couple. They are the two people the guests are there for. Other ideas include greeting the guests at the door or signing table, saying farewells as they leave, taking photos with each table so as to say hello to everyone personally, or to hand out favors and say hello. Either way, make sure the couple gets a few spare moments with each guest, but save any long conversations for another time. Each guest should feel welcomed and appreciated for their arrival.
Keep it Simple
I think this is the most overlooked item. The reception is typically planned for months with everything in mind such as the food, the backdrop, the music, and more. In the end, a reception is simply a place to celebrate a newly married or soon-to-be married couple. Food and photos are expected, but overall the bride and groom should be able to focus on each other the whole time. Keep it simple so as to not allow distractions to get in the way of what is most important–the couple. Don’t ever allow greeting guests or anything else to separate the couple. The couple should be happy, together, as they say hello to their friends and family and enjoy the cake-cutting and dancing together. It is their time to shine as a couple that just stepped into their happily ever after.