Having the perfect wedding drinks reception is key.
Imagine it: you will already have set the ambience of your day during the ceremony; the decor you chose, the music you played and any personal touches you decided to include. But once that is finished, your guests are propelled into the drinks reception period…
…and this sets the tone of the entire day!
So, read this 5 minute article to ensure you get it right!
I’m Nick Twist, a Norwich based wedding magician and I want to provide you with all of my top tips for getting your drinks reception right!
I’ve performed at so many of these throughout my career and I offer you my experiences here – just so that you can have that perfect wedding day! (See how I can enhance your wedding drinks reception with these ideas)
Quite quickly, it is common for a natural lull to develop as most people run out of small talk and familiarity of surroundings begins to come into play.
This is one of the most important things to get right since you are not actually likely to be there.
You’ll be off having photographs and this means that your guests cannot yet get their opportunity to congratulate you, talk with you and enjoy their time with you.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for that later, but you need to make sure your guests are having a great time while you are away at such a critical moment.
So, if you want that feel-good wedding of the year, it’s time to plan for the perfect drinks reception!
First up, the drinks!
So this is probably the very first thing your guests will experience from your perfectly planned wedding drinks reception. Make sure the drinks impress to set out that expectation that this is a wedding to remember! Here are some ideas…
Obviously, there will be prosecco or bucks fizz, but not everyone enjoys these. A common trend I am seeing is the bucket of ice filled with drinks. You may want to be more creative…maybe even an old barrel or wheelbarrow, depending on the style you are going for?
These ideas are not only practical, but they look great too (remember, we are trying to set up those expectations and this can really help).
Fill them with bottled beers, kids’ drinks such as bottles of soft drinks and water bottles (don’t forget these on a hot summers day).
The latter drinks serve to show any pregnant guests and those driving or simply not interested in alcohol that you want them to be part of the party too.
Check out Aunt Nora enjoying her Pimms and lemonade! Don’t put too much on though, the guests may get tipsy!
For this reason, considering mocktails set out in an area may also be a nice touch.
For a really extravagant impression, hire a mobile bar service which always looks and feels great. These range from simple wooden pallet designs to full on converted caravan/horse box extravaganzas.
It’s even possible to find old converted London–style buses or camper vans for this. A great idea for a wedding drinks reception!
Didn’t I warn you about allowing the guests to drink too much too soon? … well, now I have!
You don’t need food at all at your drinks reception. But, if you want happy guests, a quick nibble always goes down well!
Organising some canapés is a lovely treat for people as they enjoy the early stages of your celebration – it’s a great idea! This is because a lack of food can easily upset a few – who may be trying to buy crisps from the bar!
That’s OK, but be aware that some people may want to do this and it’s your choice if you want to spend the extra to impress with tasty snacks.
You could even ask permission from the venue to bring along your own crisps or nuts to set out if you wish to save a little money. Not many venues will allow it but you never know unless you ask.
Treat your guests with some cupcakes to give them a little lift. Do-nut walls or vans are also popular choices. Or how about a popcorn machine for fresh, warm treats! Autumnal weddings could offer fresh roasted nuts. If you’re planning a wedding in Autumn, check out this great guide packed with seasonal tips and ideas: Planning a wedding in Autumn.
I personally love live music and I think many others do too – particularly at a wedding. It transforms your celebration atmosphere into a calm and happy place and that’s exactly what you want at this stage of the day.
If you choose to add this great enhancement, you need to think about the ambience you are aiming to create. This allows you to select the right musician(s) for your day.
A harpist, pianist or string quartet will offer that classic option and provides a calm atmosphere for people to relax in.
Perhaps you want something a little more modern? An acoustic singer or duo works really well too.
I have been to many weddings where I have performed my magic at a drinks reception to the background music of acoustic guitars and modern songs – it’s a great combination which can only greatly enhance your guests’ experience.
And that is exactly what you’re after at this stage – impressing your guests. Remember, you’re not likely to around much at this stage and you need to look after the people!
KSD events, based in Norfolk, can help you with acoustic singers or even a full band.
4. Garden games
Oh yes, a classic addition to any British wedding day.
There are always those guests who want to prove themselves against the games – and for onlookers, this can lead to hilarious moments when they fail! Not that we want any of your friends to fail at the games of course (well, maybe we would love it if Uncle Barry does!).
Giant Jenga, Connect four and snakes and ladders are classic games which have been adapted to suit the needs of your wedding day. But funfair classics such as coconut shys and spin the wheel are also popular fun items to consider.
My personal favourite is mobile crazy golf. It is now possible to hire these and they are great for adults and children alike.
Celebration cars and events, based in Norwich, can arrange for crazy golf, a fun beat the buzzer game and more.
5. Other entertainment
Entertainment at the wedding drinks reception? Yes!
Something to bring people together and to break the ice.
A strolling entertainer is sure to keep your guests happy at this crucial time. Remember; you are almost certainly not going to be there (off having photos) so you need people who are waiting to congratulate you to be entertained. Otherwise, they may become anxious waiting for you and this doesn’t start the day well.
Instead, plan something which will bring your guests together and doesn’t give them the chance to think about your whereabouts. Caricaturists are great for this but the best entertainment at this stage is something interactive so that groups are brought together….
(Look out, shameless plug ahead…) ME, a specialist wedding magician and balloon artist! (nick-twist.co.uk)
The adults watch sleight of hand magic and discuss the craziness they have just witnessed and the children (and big kids) walk away with the most amazing – never before seen – balloon art.
Designs such as princesses, unicorns, mermaids, aliens, Star Wars characters, minions and more ensure that your drinks reception has the feel-good factor of the year! And this means that people are going to love the rest of your wedding day.
Imagine the power of this entertainment. I have personally approached small groups of guests looking around not sure what to say or do at drinks receptions and then… it turns into a large group. And when I leave, you can see the transformation of small, slightly awkward group to a large bunch chatting, laughing and discussing how it could be done. I am always proud to walk away knowing that I have helped you bring your guests together so that the rest of the day is just how you wanted it to be.
What drinks reception would be complete without a confetti moment? Most venues allow biodegradable natural or tissue paper forms and the tradition means it just has to be done, right?
Traditionally, as I’m sure you know, guests stand either side and throw the confetti at the happy couple as they move along the group.
But what about confetti cannons filling the air with natural pastel colours or even rainbow explosions?!
It is best to leave the confetti in cones or boxes by the entrance the wedding drinks reception area so that everyone can grab a portion.
7. Tell your guests what’s happening next
When standing around, guests will start to wonder what’s happening next. So tell them!
There are many options from expensive, custom designs to cheap chalkboards as shown. But however you choose to do it, let people know what will be happening next and when.
You could even design and print a roller banner for this if your wedding is indoors. Don’t use these outdoors unless you want to chase after it after every small gust of wind!
7. Consider the children or expect lots of shouting, running and screaming.
Children love going crazy. Give them 0.5 seconds of time and they will be all over it!
So plan correctly and make sure they have fun without annoying the adults. (Why not check out my article on planning weddings with children?)
Look at the picture of the cute uniquely named children’s drinks. What a lovely touch to personalise every child’s drink. You can also give them a ‘Kid’s table/area’ where they can do some drawing or colouring. Maybe hire an entertainer for them to make balloons or paint their faces.
7. Why not start the guest book early?
You will probably have some form of guest book for people to write messages in/on. This is usually rushed at the end of the day or even forgotten about. Why not start handing it out early, during the drinks reception, so that guests can actually take time to think of a thoughtful and more meaningful response? Sounds like a plan to me!