Came for the wedding, stayed for the party
I think we can all agree that when we are planning a wedding, we put just as much, if not more, planning into the reception as we do the actual ceremony. What will my guests eat? Dance to? Take home? The list goes on. We want everyone to have a good time celebrating our marriage! So what makes a great reception? Everyone will have different opinions based on their preferences, traditions and even the part of the country they live in, but I will tell you what we did that made our reception the BEST party we’ve ever been to.
Hire a Band
First and foremost, our band was absolutely our most favorite part of the entire reception. We thought briefly about hiring a DJ, but ultimately decided on a band with a broad set-list and the ability to play lots of oldies but goodies and current new songs. Hiring Style Entertainment was the BEST vendor choice ever. We loved them so much that we extended our reception by an hour because we couldn't stop dancing and didn't want to leave. True story: when my photographer told me it was time to do my exit, I teared up. I ran to my Dad and asked if we could stay longer. He said yes, I did a “fake” exit with sparklers for pictures and then we came back in and kept the party going. I feel confident that the band is the reason we didn’t want to leave. They were super interactive with the crowd and had everyone on their feet. Even my parents were busting out dance moves. We are currently trying to figure out how we can throw another party just to get them back. If you are engaged, you need to call them, like now.
Make it Personal
If you have the idea that your reception has to be a certain way, kick that to the curb! You don’t have to have prim and proper food or a certain menu just to fit a mold. We chose to combine our favorite foods for our guests to have lots of options. We had everything from gyros to French fries to green bean casserole and having our favorite foods made it super personal and enjoyable for us!
We did a silly first dance that really set the tone for the night. We started with a traditional sweet song and then brought out the more entertaining moves at the end. Songs like In My Feelings and Play That Funky Music let everyone know know that we came to have a good time, and they joined us!
As big Mississippi State University fans (we met as Roadrunners at MSU) we wanted to have a touch of bulldog spirit in the evening. We hired the mascot, Bully, to come spend an hour with us and it was so much fun. Kids and parents alike loved taking pictures with the giant Bulldog in a tux. Having the mascot there encouraged everyone to get out on the dance floor, sing the fight song and just be silly. It was the perfect touch and we loved it. Hail State!
You’ll see a picture of this below…but Hunter played a trick on my during the garter toss part of the evening. He was taking an awfully long time to retrieve the garter from under my dress. I thought maybe he was feeling the wrong leg or he didn’t understand the concept of taking it off, truly I was confused. Then he pulls a pair of ENORMOUS granny panties out from under my dress. He had them shoved up his sleeve and decided to please the crowd with this silly prank. Everyone thought it was hilarious and he was so tickled with himself. Then he got my actual garter and tossed it. But I tell you this to say, don’t be scared to let your personality show. It is a party after all. Give the people what they want ;)
We had several cakes based on what Hunter and I like and you can get a better idea of that below. I love traditional wedding cake, so that’s what mine was! He isn’t a huge cake person (like how!?) so we had brownies and fruit for him, in addition to this precious personalized lab coat cake. Hunter is a second-year medical student for those who don’t know! Anyways, have fun with it!
Plan It Out
The best way to make sure that YOU and YOUR GROOM enjoy the reception is to plan out the order in which certain events will take place. Things like your first dance, cutting the cake, the garter toss and sorority rituals all take a lot of time! If you can knock a few things out in the beginning and a few at the end, then you can relax and chat with guests and hit the dance floor in-between. When you are planning the timing, keep in mind that older guests may want to leave early so be sure to do the important things toward the beginning.
Don’t be afraid to give your bridesmaids tasks or ask them to help you stay on track. They’ll be more than happy to! One of my bridesmaids ensured that I had water or wine in my hand at all times and for that, I am thankful!
I would majorly suggest having 2 plates of food reserved for you in a hidden room when you arrive. This way, you can enjoy dinner quickly before entering the party to chat with your guests. Otherwise you’ll be HUNGRY. This obviously wouldn’t apply if your reception has a seated dinner. Around these parts of MS, most people do a big wedding and reception with buffet-style food, so that is what I am going off of. Oh, and make sure you tell the kitchen to pack up the extra in to-go boxes so that you and your groom can enjoy a lil late night food action at the hotel. After all, the wedding diet is no more.
Bring a Change of Shoes
This is so important that is deserves its own paragraph. There is nothing worse than the shooting pain that heels bring after 8+ hours on your feet. If you want to relax and have a good time, plan to wear a pair of sandals, flats or sneakers under your dress. No one will even see them and if they do, they won’t blame you! Comfort is key and you’ll thank me later. I wore these gold Tory Burch Miller Sandals. I bought them because I knew I would wear them a lot on the honeymoon and after the wedding! I have a black pair and they’re so comfy and versatile so I would use any excuse to get another pair.
So this might seem like an odd addition, but I think it made the night even better! We had glow sticks, fake microphones and sunglasses that the band handed out to the guest. Nothing says “I’m here to party” like a pair of neon plastic stunner shades and a glow stick around your neck. It made the pictures really fun and gave everyone a fun way to relax. I have been to several weddings where they hand out glowing tambourines and that is really cute too!
Pack Your Bags
I promise this will help you. I failed miserably at this on the day of my wedding. I basically had my purse and my honeymoon bag. So great, Payton, where are you going to put your phone, reception shoes, veil, change of clothes, accessories, etc.? I would recommend packing a reception bag. Maybe you use the bag you’d plan to use as a tote on your honeymoon? That way you can pack it in your suitcase when you’re traveling. Have one of your bridesmaids be in charge of bringing your bag to the reception and putting it into your getaway car during the party. Here’s what I would put in it:
Change of shoes
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
We were 45 minutes late to our own reception because our limo driver got LOST on the way there. Starkville has like 3 roads, mind you. We had to turn around in someone’s driveway. Our limo also had such bad service that we sent them home and my mom had to drive us to our cottage at Old Waverly for the night. And by bad service I mean that the whole thing smelled like weed and the air conditioner was broken. Let me remind you, it was July in Mississippi, so it was 100+ degrees and we were in a gown and a tux. But back to my mom, #lol. Let’s be honest, is your mom the person you want dropping you off for the first night of your honeymoon?? Probs not. But guess what!? We had the best time and we still laugh about it. Just go with the flow and don’t be thrown off when something goes wrong. Because it will.
Make an Exit
Honestly this is one of the most fun parts of the night. All the worries and stress of the day are gone, you have just had the most fun night ever, you have a sexy new husband and you’re about to jet off for a vacay. Make a fun exit! Some people do their exit from the church which is great too! The natural light of an afternoon wedding is so pretty in exit pics. But, I wanted to do mine from the reception venue for one final shebang, bc y’all know I love the #drama. We chose to do sparklers (not cliche at all) but I adore how they turned out in pictures! There are so many options for a grand exit. Some of my other favorites I have seen are confetti, popcorn, cowbells, pompoms and rose petals. Really, you can’t go wrong because your forever starts RIGHT NOW!
If you are interested in anything I shared, here are some resources for you to find the specifics!
Reception Venue + Catering: The Starkville Country Club
Band: Style Entertainment
Photography: Masa Kathryn Photography
Bride’s Cake: Blair Curtis
Groom’s Brownies: The Cake Box
Groom’s Lab Coat Cake: Leslee Kelley Cookies
Casual bridesmaids matching dresses: Old Navy
Champagne Flutes: Family heirloom
Groomsmen Ties: Dazi
Glow Sticks: Amazon
Sparklers: Direct Sparklers
Drink Huggies: 4imprint
Cake Topper: Etsy
Did I miss something reception related? Send me an email and I will get back to you with ALLLLL the dirty little deets ;)