The ceremony itself may be what you and your husband-to-be are looking for, but the reception is where the real celebrations begin. So make it a good one for you and your guests with these fun ideas.

bride and groom

Jazz up your first dance

Any old couple can attempt a shuffle and a half-decent slow dance, so why not stand out from the crowd and wow your guests with a surprise performance? Whether it be a slapstick comedy duo number or a far more professional dance, start the evening’s celebrations as you mean to go on…with a hell of a lot of laughs and endless fun.

Have a children’s section

Many couples choose to specifically state on their invites that no children will be in attendance, but if you decide to have kids at your wedding, preparation is the key to avoiding utter chaos. Section off a special table for children only. Provide an entertainer, snacks, colouring books, crayons and toys. If the budget allows, hire a babysitter for the night to supervise the children, so mammy and daddy can let loose on the dance floor.

kids table

Keep the speeches short and sweet

Just remember that when it comes to the speeches, quality rules over quantity and the last thing guests want to sit through is three or four half hour spiels on the bride and groom. Slap a five minute limit on all speeches or, to avoid them altogether, hold a rehearsal dinner the night before, which are ideal for long, drawn-out speeches.

Have quirky party favours

Leave the formality of a wedding at the reception door and have a little bit of fun so guests can let loose for the night. Some budget-friendly, fun party favours can include masks of the bride and groom, noisemakers, and party poppers.

confetti

Do a welcome dinner

If the budget allows it, holding a welcome dinner the day before the wedding ceremony is a fantastic idea for guests to meet one another for the first time and mingle. Therefore, when it comes to the reception the next day, attendees will be far more comfortable in each other’s company and therefore, a fun reception is sure to ensue.

Keep guests fuelled

To keep the party going into the early hours, re-fuel your guests. Arrange with the venue beforehand to provide some midnight nibbles for guests or even a coffee bar to provide an energy hit that will keep guests on the dance floor!

mini food

Add surprises

The best part of any wedding event is the surprises that guests don’t expect to happen. Hire a performer to arrive at any given time, such as an acrobat, fire breather or belly dancer. This will keep guests in awe and overall, entertained.

The secret’s in the seating plan

It may sound like an obvious tip, but meticulously arranging your seating plan could be the key to a good night for your guests. Place each one beside someone they really get along with and the conversation, fun and bubbly will flow.

seating plan

Choose your DJ carefully

Music really reigns supreme at a wedding and holds the power over what could turn a dud night into a fantastic celebration. You may want it to be a romantic occasion but guests will not thank you for heartfelt Westlife ballads dominating the night. Formulate a good idea in musical genre tastes for the majority crowd you’re inviting. Then, compile a list of floor-fillers to play the whole night through and liaise closely with your DJ for professional advice on how to fill and sustain a happy crowd.

Create different zones

The key to a good wedding reception is movement and mingling. Because no-one ever had a great night sitting in their seat. If the venue allows, create numerous zones in your reception such as a cocktail table, candy table, coffee table, roulette table etc., to get guests off their seats and moving around the room. You never know, doing a shuffle over to the cocktail bar might just get your guests caught up in the middle of a raucous rendition of rock the boat.

- Michelle Storey

Image credits: Bride and groom: Amelia Lyon | Kid's table: Kristyn Hogan | Confetti: Craft Hubs | Food: Wedd Book | Seating plan: One Love Photography