Wedding Reception Options

by | March 19, 2012

Throughout the wedding planning process, you will have several opportunities for your personal preferences to shape your wedding day. Below are a few of those choices for your wedding reception.


The Sweetheart’s Table or Head Table A recent trend in wedding receptions is the sweetheart’s table; a table just for the bride and groom. Traditionally, the bride and groom would sit at a head table surrounded by the bridal party. Here are a few things to consider:



  • Wedding etiquette dictates that the bride and groom should be seated near their bridal party.
  • Consider they layout of your reception room and discuss the options with your venue. A sweetheart’s table does require additional setup, table linens, centerpiece, etc. The table should be placed so that your guests and those offering toasts can clearly see the new couple.
  • If you have a large wedding party, it may be more convenient to have a sweetheart’s table.
  • Your bridal party may be offended if you choose not to dine with them. Alternatively, they might appreciate being able to dine with their date or family. Discuss your decision with them in advance.
  • If you or your fiance are shy, it may feel like more attention is focused if you decide to dine at a separate table.


Buffet or Seated Dinner Most wedding reception venues will allow you the option of a buffet or seated dinner. Here are some things to consider when choosing between the two:




  • Buffet dinners are usually less formal than seated dinners so it is important to consider the overall formality of your wedding day.
  • Seated dinners are typically more expensive due to the additional servers required; making buffet dinners budget friendly.
  • Guests are able to choose more or less of foods that they like with a buffet dinner.
  • Ask your caterer if you will be charged a per plate price with a buffet dinner. Some guests consider buffets an “all-you-can-eat” invitation and may make multiple trips; possibly increasing your costs.
  • Buffet lines should allow access from both sides to keep guests moving through lines in a timely manner.

Open or assigned seating Again, the tone of your wedding reception will usually dictate the level of planning required for dinner seating. A simple, informal reception or one where most people will know each other lend themselves to more casual, open seating. The more formal the wedding reception, the more likely there will be assigned seating. (To learn more about creating seating arrangements, click here.)


Cash or open bar It is generally frowned upon to ask guests to pay for drinks during your wedding reception. However, there are not rules forcing you to have a full bar either. An option that is budget friendly and conforms to wedding etiquette is to offer an open, but limited bar. Your bartender can help you to select a few wines, beers and liquors that will meet the needs of the typical guest. You can also create a signature drink for your event too.


Guest Requests – Yes or No At some point during your wedding reception, a guest will ask your DJ to play their favorite song. It is important to discuss with your DJ in advance how you would like him to respond.




  • The more your DJ honors song requests, the more likely your dance floor will be filled. (For more ways to pack your dance floor, click here.)
  • If you are worried about someone requesting a song you hate, place it on your “do not play list”. Your DJ can then help the guest to pick another song that would be more appropriate.
  • If you truly do not want the DJ to play guest requests, have him inform guests that you have asked him not take requests for the evening.

Cake or cupcakes It is a traditional moment of the wedding day when the bride and groom cut their wedding cake. More recently, couples have begun to share cupcakes as well. If you are struggling between the two, consider the following:




  • Having multiple flavors of wedding cakes will usually require additional tiers. If you would like to offer your guests a large selection of flavors, cupcakes allow more variety.
  • If you have a particular theme to your wedding, each cupcake can be decorated accordingly and presented to guests. While cakes can also incorporate themes, guests will not see that on their individual plates.
  • Having a “cut” cake and sheet cakes for service can be more budget friendly than individual cupcakes.

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