What Brides Should Know About… the Reception

It’s your Reception! Enjoy yourself!!! Be sure to eat dinner haha.

Things to keep in mind about a wedding reception:

  1. Your DJ/MC should keep things moving throughout the night. If you’re getting married in Utah, I highly recommend hiring Richie Steadman because he not only knows how to throw a great party, but will keep your evening flowing seamlessly so you don’t have to worry about anything during the reception. When Richie was the DJ for my own wedding, I provided him a list of events I wanted to happen at some point (i.e. who was giving a speech, bouquet toss, etc.) and I rough schedule for when things should happen, but I trusted his discretion.
  2. When you’re hiring a wedding photographer, please ask to see a full wedding gallery. Most receptions will require that you use flash in order to take a good-looking photo and this requires a different skill set than taking a good-looking photo during daylight.

Here’s a list of things that typically occur at wedding receptions. But it really is your day! Feel free to include more things and not do other things. Whatever makes it feel most genuine to you!

1. Say hi to family & friends

I highly recommend doing a first look. When you do more portraits before most guests arrive for the ceremony, you’ll have more time to spend with everyone once they arrive.

Fairview Napa Wedding California Caili Chung

2. Eat delicious food

The most common ways to serve dinner are:

Buffet: All courses are served at the same time and set up in an accessible area for guests to self-serve their meal.

Food Stations: Dinner service with multiple smaller buffets set up as stations for guests to sample a variety of menu options.

Plated: Meal selections are made prior to the wedding, and served one course at a time individually at the table.

Family Style: Dinner is served in large dishes at each table for guests to serve themselves at the table. Servers can leave platters at the table, or pass it around the table then take it away to leave extra space on the table. 

Typically plated and family style dinner is more expensive because you need to hire staff to wait tables and pay them a service charge.

There are a lot of people to talk to at your wedding. No matter the dinner style, I recommend that the bride and groom get their food first so they can finish eating before most of their guests. This allows them time to go to each individual table as guests eat to make sure they can at least briefly greet every person attending (if your guest list is under around 200).

Meadow Club Fairfax wedding Caili Chung Photography

3. Toast

However, I recommend telling all toasters in advance because most people are not suave enough to give a great on-the-fly speech. And I recommend asking them to keep toasts under 5 minutes long.

Who should toast?

Traditionally the event host(s), best man, and the maid of honor are invited to toast the couple at the wedding reception. You can have anyone you want give a toast, but consider having additional speeches given at the rehearsal dinner because many more and guests may lose interest.

Welcome Toast

Traditionally the Father of the Bride toasts the happy couple immediately following the seating of guests, prior to the start of dinner service. Offering a toast at this point in the event is also a great way to gather everyone’s attention with the least amount of distractions and there is less background noise.

When to Toast

I do not recommend doing other toasts immediately after the welcome toast. Guests are typically anxious for dinner service to start. I recommend having the Best Man and Maid of Honor speeches after dinner has concluded, followed by the cutting of the wedding cake. Placing these toasts at this point in the event timeline offers a smooth transition from dinner to reception.

Garden Valley Ranch Wedding Pink Sparkly

4. Cut cake

Typically the bride and groom cut the first slice of cake together. And then feed each other a bite.

5. See if there are wedding traditions specific to your culture that you’d like to include

Palm Event Center Winter Wedding Caili Chung Photography

6. First Dance

Whether you just sway together or do a whole choreographed she-bang, enjoy a dance with your new spouse.

If you hate being the center of attention, consider asking the DJ/Band to cut the song short so you’re not up there for a whole duration of a song.

La Hacienda Moraga Wedding Caili Chung Photography

7. Dance with your parents

Many weddings do a father-daughter dance and a mother-son dance.

8. Dance with everyone really

Cinnabar Hills Wedding Rainy San Jose

9. Throw the bouquet/garter

10. Drink lol

Fairview Napa Wedding California Caili Chung

This is Part 9 of my series “What Brides Should Know About…” To read more, click the below: 

  1. Details
  2. Getting Ready
  3. First Looks
  4. Couple Portraits
  5. Venue Photos
  6. The Ceremony
  7. Family Photos
  8. Wedding Party Photos
  9. The Reception
  10. Exits

–> Planning a wedding can be overwhelming! But I gotchu 😉 After going to so many events as a photographer, I’ve got plenty of recommendations and experience with everything wedding-related. Click here to learn more about the Caili Chung Photography Wedding Experience <3

For Brides


What Brides Should Know About… the Reception

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