An offsiders tips for a great wedding reception

A lot of couples come to me after finding out a venue has a grand piano or for a genuine love of live music. It’s usually at this time they’re only beginning to investigate the ins and outs of their big day.

Treasure the time spent planning together – don’t let it become bigger than both of you.

A few thoughts I hope will help.


  1. Don’t neglect the reception over the ceremony

So much time is spent planning for the big day that you may forget about the night. Even if your ceremony stretches out to one hour, there are at least 5 more coming that night. Don’t overcompensate, just balance your efforts.


  1. Set two responsible people in charge for the night

Your MC and another member of the bridal party are a good start. You want someone organised to keep you out of the firing line on the night and act as the go-to for last minute questions from caterers, DJ etc. The MC will need to be front of house (could be your DJ) – the second person should do all the dirty work.


  1. Set an easy runsheet

If you plan for too many parts in your reception, it only makes it harder to execute. Keep it simple:

  • Predrinks with light entertainment
  • Everyone seated – MC and second in charge to move crowd as required
  • Bridal party enter – welcomed by MC (short and sweet)
  • Food
  • 2-3 Speeches – end with bride and groom speech then cutting of the cake. Any speech longer than a couple of minutes is too long
  • Dessert
  • MC to announce first dance then everyone on the dance floor
  • Dance until close with DJ in charge


  1. Vito your speeches

Everyone jokes about long speeches. Truth is, a long boring speech is what people talk about on the way home – the last thing you want after all your efforts to make it your most beautiful day.

Some tips

  • Choose your speakers wisely – funny yet warm
  • Set boundaries knowing they will be broken
  • Search for great wedding speeches on YouTube/social media and send them to your speakers to guide them towards what you hope for. Don’t hound them though…


  1. Get a DJ

Truth is, DJ’s are expensive and people say “I’ll just plug in my ipod”. Here’s why they’re usually worth it

  • Music needs to reflect what’s going on at the time
  • While people are sitting, it should be unobtrusive
  • When you want people to dance, they will only get up for the right songs
  • Once they’re on the dance floor, it’s hard to keep them there – this is when your DJ earns his keep
  • You don’t want someone meddling with the playlist during the night – this is what an ipod encourages…