Guests at Reception Venue

Wedding Receptions From Hell

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a wedding, even with thorough planning and preparation. Here at, we hope you learn from these real-life mistakes and think very carefully about your wedding reception!

Guests at Reception Venue
A Harvest of Love – Alison and Trysan’s Real Wedding by Lisa Gill Photography

The Great Divide

“I’d travelled two hundred miles to this wedding with my new husband,” sighs Cath as she recalls the wedding of her school friends, Tim and Suzie, “to find that they’d come up with what they thought was a marvellous idea: to split all their guests up from their partners and make sure everyone ‘mixed’. I was sitting on a table where I knew no one. And my new husband was about eight tables away. Everyone ate in silence; we were all in the same boat. I just thought it was really dictatorial and rude.”


This just goes to demonstrate that, while mixing and matching couples can be a very good idea, you should do it at your peril. We suggest that, in order to make this idea work so that it isn’t so uncomfortable, you put fun activities or other ice breakers on each table that will promote discussion between guests. For example, fun puzzles or jokes and party poppers and crackers—they can double as wedding favours!

Fun Wedding Reception Ideas |
Clockwise from the top-left: Wedding Paper Puzzle | Vintage Lace Photo Booth Party PropsLove Revolution DIY Jigsaw | Dare Cards | “We Add Up” Novelty Calculator In Gift Packaging“Bet On Love” Heart Shaped Playing Cards

The Inedible Food

“I’m no gastronomic shy‐baby, but the food was drenched in chilli sauce and every conceivable spice,” says Peter, recalling his friend Ian’s wedding. “Ian had been on holiday to South America and insisted on imposing his new‐found favourite cuisine on everyone else. Unfortunately, people didn’t know what they were eating. Anyone who braved eating more than a mouthful spent the night on the loo.”

When planning your wedding reception, be sure to choose a menu that anyone can eat from! It’s particularly thoughtful if you ask your guests to tell you any food specifications (such as allergies, and if they require a vegetarian or gluten-free option, etc) in the RSVPs, before you finalise your caterer.

Buzz Events and Catering wedding food |
Buzz Events and Catering Ltd

The Comedy Waiter

“We were in the most beautiful setting,” remembers Stephanie, “just about to get stuck into the bubbly, when this waiter dropped a tray of glasses. We just thought it was an accident. He turned out to be a hired actor who then spent the whole night causing ‘hilarious’ incidents and orchestrating side‐splitting accidents. I think the bride’s dad made him leave in the end.”

A good party atmosphere can’t always be manufactured on the spot. Think carefully before you decide on a questionable wedding entertainer, even if it does promise a unique experience. If you want comedy, sometimes it’s best to play it safe with a comedian.

Wedding Guests Laughing
Vintage Meets Circus Meets Festival – Lucy and Adam’s Real Wedding

The Cliquey Parlour Game

“To round the evening off, the bride’s family were forced to play some ancient game (that only their family knew the rules of), at the suggestion of the bride,” recalls Tom. “There wasn’t enough space for everyone to play, so about 20 of us were left at the end of the night just milling about at the bar, feeling totally excluded. Hannah, the bride, is Austrian and over there it’s a tradition—only not one that apparently we were allowed to take part in. It was a real anti‐climax.”

Of course, it’s your wedding and your big day, but you’ve invited your guests (most if not all of them) because you want them to be there. Don’t exclude them at the last moment by suggesting a something that’s certain to leave some people out. A game is one for all or not at all!

Wedding fun and karaoke |
Vintage Meets Circus Meets Festival – Lucy and Adam’s Real Wedding

The Wedding Speech. …And Another

“And then the groom’s mother’s best friend’s auntie got up to thank everyone for their thanking her for helping to do the flowers!” says Monique. “It was the eighth or ninth speech, so I gave up and slipped out until it was over. I’d been sitting there for an hour and a half, my bum was numb and I was dying for the loo. Nightmare!”

Don’t bore your guests to the point of leaving during your wedding speeches. Keep speeches as short and sweet as possible and restrict them to only a few people. Imagine if the situation was reversed: would you stay put through at least a dozen lectures?

Groom's Wedding Speech |
Jill and Collin’s Ivory and Coral Wedding

The Endless Dance

“I don’t mind dancing, but I like to dance when I want to, not when I’ve been told to,” says Su. “So you can imagine that three hours of being forced to barn dance is not my idea of fun. Everyone was press‐ganged into it, there was no escape and it was horrendous. The man who was leading the dance up on stage even shouted at people who were just leaving the room to go to the loo! I was black and blue by the end.”

During wedding planning, you may grow concerned that your reception will be dead—for example, that people won’t get up and dance. One way to get around this includes asking your guests to suggest a song that they will dance to, or, like above, hiring a dance leader who can get everyone involved for you. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do the latter: you shouldn’t force anyone to do what they don’t want to do, and you certainly shouldn’t keep it going for three hours. You’ll find that most people will like dancing, but they’ll despise being made to.

Bride and groom dance to a jazz band |
Laura and Kriss’ Real Wedding by Douglas Fry

The Former-Drill-Instructor Photographer

“Without being melodramatic, the guy nearly got his lights punched out by three or four different people,” recalls Phil, referring to the photographer at his brother’s wedding. “He just pushed people around, told my mum to ‘lose that hideous hat’, and barked orders at us like we were kids. He was recommended to my brother through his work, but we didn’t check the guy out beforehand. Big mistake.”

The moral here is clear: check out any and all recommendations of wedding “professionals”. Don’t just take them on trust, even if you really, really, really, really, really trust your best friend’s cousin’s boyfriend who told you they know the best photographer in the world.

Vintage wedding photography |
Wedding photography by Clearvision Imagery Weddings

Tell us your own horror story from a wedding you’ve been to, or tell us the worst thing that could happen at your own wedding!

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