Tips to Engage Guests at Your Wedding Reception
Ways to make your wedding guests feel welcome at your reception
As a popular NJ wedding reception location, we’ve hosted countless couples and their guests. We’ve helped to create everything from elegant, intimate and sedate wedding celebrations to the most raucous and energetic roof raising parties. But regardless of whether you’d like your wedding reception to be more refined or an all-out party, we’ve found that across-the-board, the best wedding receptions and those that are the most fondly remembered after the day have been those that engage and involve as many of the guests in attendance as possible. When you can create a shared experience and a sense of participation, along with giving each guest the feeling that they were truly welcomed as part of the celebration, your wedding will leave an extra-special impression with everyone who attends—even those that you might think are a bit harder to please.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Get the party started. One of the reasons why we think it’s a great asset to have both an indoor wedding ceremony location and an outdoor wedding ceremony location on the premises is that we’re able to more quickly get all your guests back together after the ceremony. The less fragmented your guests get once you’ve managed to gather them at the outset, the better. After your guest patiently sat through your ceremony, they’re ready to celebrate. Get a drink in their hand and some food to enjoy before they start to splinter off. This holds true for the cocktail reception as well. Though our guests often tell us that we provide so much to enjoy during the cocktail hour, they wouldn’t miss the dinner, its best not to keep your guests waiting. Stick to the timeline to avoid your guests from checking their watches. It’s always better to keep the pace up and have them moving on while they’re still happy to be where they are.
- Make a point of greeting your guests. As the bride and groom, you’ll certainly be besieged by well-wishers, but there are many guests, particularly those you are not as close with, that won’t be as aggressive to seek you out. Though it’s your day to celebrate–and well you should–as the party’s hosts it’s also up to you to make your guests feel welcome. Try to make time to seek out as many guests as possible and thank them for coming. If possible, ahead of time as part of your wedding planning process, try to think of a personal anecdote specific to each invitee. This way you’ll be prepared with something more personal to say than just “thank you” to your guests when bustle of the day leaves you with little time to be sincere. Even just a few minutes will go a long way when guests realize you care and have made a personal effort to seek them out specifically; less chance for the skeptical among them to think you invited them just for a present.
- Enlist your wedding party for help. Don’t let the duties as bridesmaids and groomsmen end with the wedding ceremony. Ask your bridal party in advance of your wedding to act as your ambassadors during the reception. Encourage them to introduce friends or family that they may know to each other. Have them strike up conversations with those that may not appear as involved or connected to the rest of the party. Persuade them to invite someone they might not normally connect with to share the dance floor with them. You’ll certainly have your hands full on your wedding day—the more individuals you can recruit to spread the positive energy and feeling of inclusion, the more guests you can reach.
- Set the right tone. Literally. You may already have a full list of the wedding music you want to hear played at your reception, but give some thought to incorporating a wider selection of songs that strike a chord with the range of generations in attendance. Talk with you wedding DJ or wedding band about the order of songs as well. For example, by the time an older couple might realize you’re playing a song they can slow dance to and get up to the dance floor, the DJ may already be moving on to another face-paced modern song that will just send back off the dance floor. Try to group and pace music so that you bring more people to the dance floor than send them away. If you can build up to faster paced music the better you can ease everyone into staying dancing for what might not be “their music.” Also consider the volume of the music. Try to find a balance between keeping it energetic and still keeping it possible to carry on a conversation without leaving the room.
- Consider Group Dances. You may squirm at the mere mention of a line dance or the dreaded forbidden “chicken dance” but give some thought to organizing a group dance that you’re comfortable with not being too tacky for your celebration. Group dances create the opportunity to engage guests that are too self-conscious to dance solo. If everyone’s doing it, the less concern there is about appearing foolish. And if guests can share in the awkwardness, it’s just one more thing to get people laughing and enjoying a shared experience—plus you’ll have it for your wedding video for priceless memories after.
At the end of the night, if you can make your guest feel like they were welcomed-in, as the individuals they are, to share your wedding day by your side, the more enjoyable everyone’s experience will be, the more fond the memories, and the more warmhearted their appreciation of you as newly married couple.