You can get an overview of common elements to a typical wedding reception here. Use what info you want from there, toss the rest, and be sure to add your own flare to the event.
WHAT TYPE OF PROGRAM
My favorite part of our reception was when a friend of Everette's presented me with a baby bib and a story about Everette and food and how messy he could be, and then for proof she unrolled a poster she'd had made of Everette's face dripping with a watery lemon meringue pie that she had thrown in his face for his 21st birthday.
I recall at one of my brother's receptions a timed game they had to play. While the bride had to hammer a wooden box together, the groom had to change a doll's diaper that was full of 'peanut butter poop', so they would be able to identify with each others supposed marital roles.
There can be an open-mic which allows people to share a special word of edification, or tell a silly story and reminisce. This can be done in addition to or in place of making toasts. It is a good idea to have a Master of Ceremonies who can keep things going without big lulls, but also be able to encourage long-winded people to pass the mic along.
Lots of receptions have music of one sort or another. Live music alone or with a dance floor. DJ's and pre-recorded music. Your pick.
You can have somebody (or yourself) arrange for some type of games to play, with tables competing against other tables. It helps break the ice if people don't already know one another that are sitting at the same table. You could have an impromptu talent show. Or contests for costumes if it was that kind of theme party.
Receptions, in essence, are just like a lot of other parties. Make it a party that you would like to host, and people will get as much fun out of it as they put into it.
Food is usually the most expensive part of a wedding plan, unless of course you don't invite many people at all. But there are choices that can fit into any size budget. Below are a few links for different kinds of receptions and the food and style for serving.
Things to consider:
*time of day of reception
*level of formality
*the venue you have chosen
*a theme you chose for your wedding
Some venues will provide sample menus available to choose from with a variety of prices per plate. Consider vegetarians, vegans, or those with food allergies.
Styles to consider:
*formal sit-down catered
*buffet (food prepped by friends or yourselves or catered)
We know of a couple who had a really informal reception where they had soup and rolls served up by themselves. It was more than just home-down nourishment for their guests. It was a humble act of service in which they wanted their marriage covenant to be symbolized by.
We've also heard of a couple who hired a bus to pick up homeless people and bring them to their reception as per a Bible parable. They wanted to share their abundance with other children of God.
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Question for You: What is your most memorable thing about a wedding you've been to?