Wedding Reception Ideas

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Are you searching for wedding reception ideas that will make your decorating easier, safer or more unique? Keeping wedding costs down while making a big impact is a big plus for any bride.

Ideas for Including Children in a Wedding Reception

Weddings today often involve children of the bride and groom (or both). I've seen how many couples strive to make their children really seem a part of the wedding ceremony.

It is touching to see the couple not only make promises to each other, but to repeat wedding vows with the children as well.

Follow through with these wonderful moments by planning special activities specifically for children at the wedding reception.

Wedding Reception Ideas for Kids

For children capable of feeding themselves, set up a children sized table with a disposable plastic tablecloth. Place a box or two of disposable handwipes for messy fingers. You may wish to provide each child with a "placemat" of posterboard with small boxes of crayons so they can color while waiting for the meal to be served.

Set up a play area with a rug, various toys and games for small children. Inform the parents that you will have such an area and reserve the adult tables nearly with signs for "Parents of Young Children". We did this at my daughter's wedding and I was amazed how well the children behaved by remaining at this area for most of the night. Their parents also enjoyed eating their own meals while keeping a watchful eye on their kids playing nearby.

Wedding favors are easy for children. Create a wedding activity book for kids with coloring pages of weddings, bridal paper dolls and a page that they are to draw a picture for the bride's memory book. You should of seen some of the little artists at work during my daughter's reception! We also included paint with water pages and provided small cups and squeeze bottles of water. No mess to clean up! The children had as much fun using these kits as we did making them!

If you wish to give the parents even more freedom, hire one or two teenagers to supervise wedding activities for kids. Provide a room or corner that they can play simple games with the children.

Instruct the DJ to play a "Dance with Our Children" song. Invite your kids to share the dance floor with both of you after your first "Bride and Groom" dance.

Wedding Reception Ideas for Pictures

Have you had beautiful engagement or bridal pictures taken? You can share them with your guests by showing them off at the wedding reception. There are several different ways you can do this.

1. Buy small picture frames and insert your photos. Place several on each table mingled with your tea lights or surrounding your table centerpiece.

2. Buy small photo album and fill them with copies of your pictures. Place one at each table and let your guests enjoy the time waiting for the meal to be served by browsing through these albums.

3. Be sure to put different photos in each and note that fact on the last page. Instruct them to exchange with the tables near them. This will get guests mingling and talking as they exchange albums.

Lay a colored index card at each placemat with a small bingo pencil with each card. Ask that each guest share a bit of wisdom, past memories of the bride or groom, and other sentiments. These are beautiful additions to your wedding memory album.

Wedding Reception Ideas for Tables

Want to bring color to the wedding reception tables? Lay a table runner across white tables cloths. You can purchase these ready made or make your own out of printed fabric.

Fabric usually has two selvage side (sealed threads so they don't unravel) so you would only have to run a couple of quick seams on each end. Don't sew? Fold the ends over and iron with hemming tape.

See this bridal head table laid with cloths instead of the usual swags of tulle.

I actually bought these gorgeous brocade runners at the Dollar Store! Bargains are out there - you just have to shop!

Wedding Reception Ideas for Fire Safety

I highly recommend that you look into alternative or safer uses of open candle flames. Taper candles and tea lights are beautiful at a wedding reception - but often pose a dangerous hazard of fire.

There are many alternative battery lights (such as floralytes) that are safer with a very realistic look of candlelight.

If you choose to use real candles, consider floating them in water or enclosing the flames in protective globes for added security.

Never use kerosene or oil lamp at your tables. If they are knocked over the fluid is flammable and spreads quickly.

Always be sure all members of your wedding party (as well as other key family members) know where all the fire extinguishers are located in your reception hall. Consider buying smaller portable extinguishers and placing them under several key tables and alert your people to their location.

Be sure to check with your rental hall to see if they even allow open flames at a wedding reception.

Food Banquet Tables

Feeding a large group of people creates some unique problems of it's own at a wedding reception. If your guests are not going to be served seated, give careful thought to how you layout the food lines.

People can move more quickly though the lines if they are allowed to channel down both sides of the food table. Be sure there are serving utensils available from both sides of the table.

If possible, channeling the food line in front of the bridal table allows the guests a chance to greet and speak to the bride and groom while they are seated at their head table.

Plan Your Seating BEFORE Your Wedding Day

Sounds like a no brainer, huh? You would be surprised how many brides who have to set up their own tables waste a lot of time on rehearsal night debating where the tables should be placed.

Ask to view your rental hall a long time in advance and take a camera. Take measurements of the floor space, ask how many tables are available, whether they are round, 6 foot or 8 foot long. Locate all the electrical plug ins if you are going to string lights.

If possible, ask if they have possible seating charts or references to former brides who may be able to give you good advice of what to do (or not to do.)

Allow plenty of room between chairs and the back of wall, and aisles that people can easily access drink tables, public restrooms,etc. Having long tables lined up end to end with no breaks between can cause a lot of headaches for traffic patterns that night.

Be sure that you don't violate any fire or safety regulations by covering up exit doors, etc. Be sure all exits are marked clearly with lighted signs, etc.

Easy and Fast Decorating

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The best solution to fast and easy decoration is ORGANIZATION! Think ahead of time and gather all the items you will need to decorate your hall.

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This could include lights, extension cords, ladders, step stools, duct tape, tablecloths, lighters, matches, cord ties, scissors, etc. A plan ahead of time can prevent several hurried trips to the local hardware store or home.

Be sure to line up several helpers - and include some friends that are NOT IN THE WEDDING CEREMONY! If things take longer than you think, you may have to leave earlier for hair appointments, etc. Knowing someone can stay longer to tie up the loose ends is reassuring.

Be sure to take plenty of heavy duty trash bags for quick cleanup after the reception is over.

Provide everyone an written itinerary of decorating times. This seems like overkill . . . but is really a good way to let everybody know when, where and how.

One enterprising mother of the bride I knew gathered all items needed to set up one table in one box. She filled one box per each table. She placed a photo of what the table should look like when it was finished. (A simple drawing would do.)

After the tables were set up, she placed numbers on each table. Each box was marked with a number. The workers easily grabbed their own assigned box and went to decorating. This saved a lot of time of "I need candles!" "Where are the silverware?" etc. The hall was decorated in no time with a lot less fuss.

Leave lists in the kitchen for your helpers or caterers. Give specific guidelines on making coffee, punch, setting out salads, removing items from the fridge and more. I literally placed small sticky notes after setting the banquet table for my daughter's wedding. Labeling each bowl "salad" or "chips" or "carrots" let my helpers quickly set out the food before the guests arrived while keeping my table filled in the order I preferred. Table centerpiece ideas!

Learn how you can easily make your own wedding flowers, from centerpieces to ceremony bouquets. See the pages on Basic Flower Arranging and more. Match your wedding reception flowers with gorgeous church arrangements, attendant flowers and your own wedding bouquet.

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