Wedding Reception Etiquette

cosmopolitans on a bar

Understanding wedding reception etiquette is essential for elegant wedding reception. This page is about etiquette at a wedding reception, etiquette wedding reception toasts, wedding reception ideas, proper wedding etiquette.

beautiful wedding reception

A wedding reception is pretty much a wedding feast following the wedding ceremony.

The tradition of a wedding feast can be traced as far back as early as the biblical times. There is something symbolic to breaking bread with one another as part of any celebration.

Usually the reception is held after the wedding but there are cases where there is a gap of a few hours in between.

If you decided to have two guests lists, one for ceremony only and the second one for both, this time gap is useful.

It gives the guests on the first guest list time to graciously slip away. The people on the second guest list will have time to freshen up.

If you are a wedding guest, read more about wedding guest etiquette.

Reception Etiquette for Ceremony and Reception Held Back to Back

If you choose to have the ceremony and reception back to back, the etiquette guideline is that you cannot have two guest list.
Those invited to the ceremony must be invited to the reception followed after.

Guests cannot only arrive only for the reception and you cannot expect them to leave while you are serving dinner to the rest.

Children In The Same Social Group

Also, if you were to invite children, you cannot separate them in order of importance, especially if they are from the same ‘social group’ e.g. family, Sunday school class etc. Children of the same age must be allowed together. That is the proper wedding reception etiquette.

Traditional Wedding Reception Etiquette

The traditional reception is formal, and almost always involves a sit-down meal.
However, if you cannot afford that, do not attempt to charge your guests for a full cash bar or a partial cash bar where guests will pay for their own drinks. You may serve tea or punch instead.

The popular evening wedding does call for dinner which makes it a poor choice for a limited budget.

If you cannot cut your guest list (and you shouldn’t simply because of a ‘nicer’ wedding), you might want to consider alternative types of reception.

For instance, you could consider brunch, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, afternoon tea, or a dessert reception.

It is the time of day where you’ll hold your wedding that counts. If you choose an early morning 9 am wedding, you could serve a beautiful wedding breakfast with excellent coffee or tea. A lovely wedding at 11 am is very chic too, where you could serve a very relaxed and long brunch.

A wonderful extensive selection of tea with cookies and cake is a fantastic idea for a wedding at 230 pm and definitely a fantastic visual array of teapots and teacups. Your menu could contain finger sandwiches, wedding cake, champagne or punch. It can be done rather chic and easier on your pocket.

Fill your dessert reception with cheesecakes, chocolate and a wide variety of ice cream.

Read more about hosting a tea party.

Wedding Reception Etiquette: Important to communicate to your guests about the type of reception.

For example, “Please join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres following the ceremony” so that guests can plan accordingly.

Reception Cuisine Etiquette

What about the wedding reception etiquette when it comes to the cuisine and menu choices?

Sometimes when you inter-marry with someone from another country or culture, you have the issue of what cuisine to serve.

All I can say is to work it out with honest and open communication with the bride and groom and respective families.

One way is decide based on which country the reception held in. If it is in Italy, by all means serve Italian food.

If both of you are in a multi-cultural society and have different cultural foods, you may opt to see which the majority of attendance of guests form which culture and try to serve a few portions of neutral foods within the culture. For e.g. chicken or a potato dish – everyone eats that!

If you are happy to serve two options, go ahead and do so. There are no rules for serving food except that they should not be too exotic or spicy. Certainly the older folks would not appreciate exotic food and most people cannot take spicy food!

Always remember your vegetarian counterparts and offer a substantial offering to those of that diet.

Some Menu Reception Etiquette Quotes for you

Miss Manners’ Quote of Wisdom “Hardly better is the notion that everything must be exactly equal.”

“A good host is by no means obliged to provide different meals-on-order for everyone, but tries to have a wide-ranging menu that will give at least some sustenance to everyone. ” – Miss Manners Wedding Etiquette

Miss Manners finds the project of having guests order in advance not only ridiculous and cumbersome, but ultimately futile, as no two or three choices could possibly accommodate all the variations now in common practice.
It’s true that no matter how many choices you offer, you can never really fully satisfy everyone. Why not just have a big dessert buffet so everyone gets a treat? I like that idea.

Read more about Elegant Entertaining.

Wedding Reception Etiquette FAQs

Getting Guests To Pay For Their Own Drinking Appetite?

cosmopolitans on a bar

Is it appropriate for our wedding a full or partial cash bar? Guests can order whatever they like, especially those a little fussy and we don’t have to worry about it? – a worried bride.

Answer: No, it is never proper to ask for guests to pay for their own drinks at your wedding.

Serve water, tea, coffee, soft drinks, fruit punch with dignity.

Seating Arrangement : Seating Reception Etiquette

Weddings also function as family reunions. Never put someone classified as ‘family’ in a table of singles simply because she/he is unmarried. This is an awful assumption. Place her/him with her family and let them introduce themselves at the punch table or at the dance floor.

Tip: Remember that No one is completely happy with their seating arrangements because there are 75% imperfect seats in the house. Some are too far away from the stage, or has their back facing the stage, are placed in tables in companies of secret enemies etc. Guests may come alone and not know many people etc etc.

Understanding that no one is completely happy with their seat allows you to possibly integrate lots of entertainment, good food and wine and dancing to distract them from their reality.

Having a buffet allows guests to get up, change seats, go to temporary seats to catch up with a familiar face (while the real person of that seat is busy getting food or talking to someone on her way back to the seat.) Providing good music and a dance floor gives anyone the ability to use the excuse of leaving her seat to go to the dance floor.

Pre-arranged seating allocation is necessary of course.

If not, it might escalate into childish behavior of reserving seats and fighting over seats. As much as we’d like to think that it will not happen, it will.

To continue reading Wedding Reception Etiquette Page Two,

You might also be interested in:

  1. Wedding Manners
  2. Ms Manners Wedding Etiquette Part One
  3. Ms Manners Wedding Etiquette Part Two
  4. Ms Manners Wedding Etiquette Part Three
Thank you for reading ‘Wedding Reception Etiquette’!

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