No one wants to be the rude annoying guest at a wedding. Even worse, no one wants to be rude and annoying toward their guests. To assist you and ensure you put your best foot forward on your big day, we’re sharing five of the best wedding reception etiquette tips. Remember: every wedding is unique and should ultimately be a reflection of the newlyweds. Don’t feel pressured to blindly follow this or any guide; just do what feels natural and use our advice as a starting point.
Cash Bar vs. Open Bar
Wedding etiquette doesn’t require the bride and groom to provide any alcohol to their guests at all (much to your guests probable dismay). Should you do wish to ply your reception attendees with a bit of booze, you’ll need to decide between a cash bar or an American-style open bar.
An open bar is just that: a bar with one big tab usually picked up by the bride and groom or the groom’s parents. A cash bar is your bog standard, full-service bar where guests must purchase their own drinks in order to imbibe. A growing trend in UK weddings is a mix of the two: the bride and groom tend to provide a glass of bubbly on the house and all other drinks must be paid for by the guests.
Having a cash bar? Here’s how to politely tell your guests not to leave home without cash:
A cash bar requires two main things: loads of booze and cold, hard cash. Informing your guests that they’ll need to fund their own bevvies needn’t be rude nor awkward. Put a statement on the information card that accompanies your invitations or add the following line to the bottom of your reception invite: Full cash bar available. This simple sentence sends the message that drinks will be provided and that cash is necessary. If there isn’t a cash machine nearby or the venue doesn’t have the facility to accept card payments, tell your guests! Your message might say something like: Full cash bar available. Debit not accepted. Or Full cash bar available. Don’t forget your notes!
Creche vs. Kids at the Table
Children at weddings is a toughy. While your friends may sulk if they have to get a babysitter in before heading to your evening do, they may also thank you for the much needed break from their minions. Or maybe you have children of your own and would want them and other kids their age to attend? The choice is yours, but whatever you choose, make sure your guests know beforehand.
This is another one for the information card or for the bottom of the invitation. Alternatively, ensure that you address the invite to exactly who you would like to attend, so in this case, the invite would just be for the adults: Gemma and Luke. Then, on your info card, you could state: This party is just for the grown-ups. Or something similar.
If you would like to invite kids to your evening do, then put their names on the invitation too: Gemma, Luke, Fiona and Mark. On the information card you could include: Kids creche available.
With or without a creche, you’ll want to make sure you can keep the little ones entertained throughout the meal. Opting for a close hand magician to do the rounds and entertain each table is one way to keep everyone in happy spirits. A simpler, more affordable option, however, may be to supply each child with their own colouring pack, crayons and paper and allow them to keep themselves occupied throughout the meal. Then, when the dancing and drinking begins, they can release some energy of their own in the creche.
Full Meal vs. Canapes
There are no rules you must follow when it comes to your wedding. There are traditions and customs that your guests may expect you to follow, but no one can force you to. Whether you choose to offer your guests a complete meal or have waiters pass round trays of elegant canapes, it is customary to provide some type of food for the evening do. You and your spouse-to-be have final say over what that food will be and how much will be available.
Considerations to make when choosing food for the evening do:
- Will you serve nibbles or a full meal?
- Will you include vegetarian options?
- Will you make allowance for gluten or dairy intolerances and allergies?
Social Media vs. A Private Affair
In this age of social media, your guests are likely to have their phones glued to them throughout your reception. If you don’t fancy the idea of less-than-flattering photos of you and your spouse floating around social media, you have every right to ask guests to refrain from taking photos on mobile devices. Simply have your toastmaster make an announcement at the start of the event and your guests should happily oblige.
However, if you love the idea of seeing your day through the eyes of your guests, encourage social media activity! Use clever signs and set up a hashtag for use on Twitter and Instagram to remind your guests that it’s okay to post snaps. You could also run a competition for the guest who snaps the most photos or the best photos.
Partying ’til Dawn vs. Calling it an Early Night
If you’ve got early flights booked for your honeymoon for the following day, you may not want to boogie well into the night. Even if you don’t have an early flight to make, you might fancy the idea of snuggling down with your new Mr or Mrs and having a bit of an early (and still eventful) night.
There’s no obligation for your evening do to stretch into the wee hours of the morning. If your venue doesn’t have a late licence you may find that staying past a certain hour would be overstaying your welcome. If this is the case, the best thing to do is to put a time on the invitations, indicating when the festivities are likely to be over. This way your guests can make arrangements accordingly, especially if they’ve got children to collect from the child minder’s.
Your wedding reception is likely to be the biggest party of your life and you might want to get down and dance until the cock crows. If you’re holding your reception in a hotel or a location where you need to be mindful of the neighbours, the most polite way to ensure the party doesn’t stop and you don’t wake the neighbours is to have a silent disco. You and your guests pop on a pair of headphones and are free to crank the music as loudly as your ears can take it and shimmy the night away.
After all that boozing and boogieing, keep your guests hydrated with complimentary water bottles. Purchase a pack of our water bottle labels that match your drinks tickets and carry on with your theme.