wedding reception
Pre-Wedding Activities Wedding Planning Wedding Traditions & Ceremonies

Wedding Reception Activities Ideas

Wedding Reception Activities Ideas

wedding reception


Along with all the variety that people are adding to their weddings these days is the fact that people are choosing various different types of receptions that best suit their needs and their personalities.

While receptions at lunch or dinner time are still the most popular there are people who are having wedding receptions at other times of the day and often these are arranged to coincide with their honeymoon plans or other factors that make it more convenient to have a reception possibly in the morning or at brunch.

This also affects the type of catering and the costs involved in your wedding reception and can often be a lot more cost-effective to have your reception earlier in the day where different foods and alcohol are consumed and also where any after reception party might not be included in the wedding plans.

If you’re planning a wedding on a budget then it is well worth considering alternate times for your reception as a cost-saving exercise while still adding a bit of variety and personalization to your wedding.

There are other factors that can also save you money by having your reception earlier in the day even to the extent of paying less for any musicians that you require as it will be at a time of day when there is less demand for their work and you can usually get it at a reduced rate.

Other things that need to be considered when determining what time, you will have your reception include the season that you will be getting married in and whether you can rely on the weather to be suitable during that time of the year.

Once again you should keep an open mind and not stick to specific guidelines if you prefer to do something different or if your finances or personal situation dictate alternative preparations.

A wedding reception without activities is a boring wedding.

If you had fun activities at your bachelorette party, of course, you also want to have a fun-filled wedding reception activities that your guests will never forget.  In addition to delicious food, flowing drinks, and a killer playlist, some couples like to get the party started with wedding reception games.

While games at wedding receptions are certainly not the norm, they’re gaining popularity — especially for large, outdoor weddings with plenty of space or at weddings with lots of kids in attendance. In fact, there are also pre-reception activities now as well.

But first of all, let’s define what’s wedding reception first.


What is a wedding reception?

According to, a wedding reception is a party held after the completion of a marriage ceremony. It is held usually as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receives society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple.

Hosts provide their choice of food and drink, although a wedding cake is popular. In fact, there are also wedding cake activities available these days.

Entertaining guests after a wedding ceremony is traditional in most societies and can last anywhere from half an hour to many hours or even days.

In some cultures, separate wedding celebrations are held for the bride’s and groom’s families. Before receptions—a social event that is structured around a receiving line, and usually held in the afternoon, with only light refreshments—became popular, weddings were more typically celebrated with wedding breakfasts and wedding balls.

The popularity of receptions, rather than breakfasts, dinners, and balls, during the 20th century, led to the name reception being applied to any social event after a wedding, whether it is brunch, tea, dinner, or a dance.


Aren’t you curious about why the party after a wedding is called a “reception?” The word reception literally means the action or process of receiving something, but who on Earth invented this event, delaying the couple’s honeymoon just to entertain the guests?

Kidding aside, here’s the origin of the reception idea.

Weddings were not nearly as profligate a century ago. In Western culture, up until World War II, wedding celebrations were typically held in the bride’s home and the family’s financial standing dictated the style of the reception.

A more affluent family might host an extravagant ball, while a middle-class family might host an afternoon luncheon and tea.

Around the turn of the century dance halls became more popular and the guest lists began to grow, as the bride and groom were no longer limited by the number of people their homes could hold.

Wherever the reception was held, guests were greeted with a receiving line in which the bride and groom, hosts and parents would greet every single guest.

Setting the Scene at the Reception

By remaining completely organized throughout the whole process of your wedding planning you will bring together a cohesive package that sets the scene for a wedding that will be memorable for not only you and your partner but for all your guests.

By creating an overall plan and then fine-tuning every stage of the plan you will be treating your wedding organization like that of a well-tuned business where the outcome will always be positive.

You will be able to look at all aspects from the flowers, lights, music, table settings and anything else that is required at the reception to all blend in with one another and complement each other.

The reception is a time where people congregate and mix with one another and depending on the style of the wedding you are having most of their time will be in the reception area so a lot of thought needs to go into making that a pleasurable experience for them.

If you are getting your wedding photographs taken while people are waiting for you at the reception area then make sure you have organized music, drinks, and even some light snacks to help them pass the time while they are waiting for you.

Create an atmosphere at the reception that you find pleasing to yourself as this will be an extension of your personality and as the people attending the reception will be close family and friends, they will appreciate the fact that the decoration shows your true personality.

Depending on where the reception is being held these decorations can transform an austere looking area into a place of harmony and unity with the inclusion of things as simple as some nice pot plants place about the venue.

Whatever you do at the reception area will generally be dictated by your finances but that still leaves plenty of opportunity in most cases to create something that you will be proud of with a little imagination.

Wedding Receptions Today

Most of the wedding receptions these days takes place in banquet halls, hotels, resorts, wedding venues, and community halls. Smaller wedding receptions commonly take place at restaurants or in a backyard.

There are so many activities going on at the wedding reception these days.

Fun Wedding Activities

Wedding Toasts

Wedding toasts are generally made before dinner is served. Toasts often include a welcome by the bride’s father and speeches by the best man and maid of honor.

Traditionally speaking, the best man is the master of ceremonies at a wedding reception and kicks off the toasts. This is a great point to keep in mind when selecting a best man—in addition to his ability to plan a stellar bachelor party, of course.

If this is not the case for your wedding, consider choosing a good friend or close family member; this person is going to be the one to move the order of events along and make sure the mic is given to the right person at the right time.

Customarily, the order of wedding reception toasts should go like this:

  1. The best man toasts the bride, usually after an overdramatic or super-funny speech.
  2. The maid of honor toasts the groom…also after an overdramatic fun speech that will make the bride cry.
  3. The wedding host (traditionally the father of the bride) toasts the couple.
  4. Other parental figures of the couple toast the couple.
  5. The couple toasts their family and guests.

Wedding toasts can be a fun time or tear-jerking for everybody where individuals get the chance to celebrate the wedding couple.

Click here for Wedding Toast Activities Ideas

Wedding Dance

Within the last century, traditional dances have fallen to the verge and dancing has become more of a free-for-all. Modern weddings include the newlyweds’ first dance as a married couple and parent dances. Choreographed dances are also becoming more popular.

Click here for Wedding Dance Activities

Food for the Wedding

Culture plays a key role in wedding food. Often, a three-course meal is served that includes a salad, entree, and dessert. Buffets are also common options. It really depends on the couple’s choice or the theme of the wedding.

Nowadays, a three-course meal, brought to guests by waiters is outdated. The trending right now is interactive stations. The hors d’oeuvres are served during cocktail hours or they are on self-served food stations.

This is way better since guests have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy their meal, but there are less table-time and more socializing time.

So, before you find a caterer, ask first the venue about their catering policy. They may have in-house catering services that you’re required to use or charge a fee if you want to bring someone else in. From there, you can work out things like seasonal selections, presentation specifics and serving logistics.

Click here for Wedding Foods: Catering and Buffet Activities

Wedding Cake Cutting

Along with the first dance and bouquet toss, this charming tradition is one of those photo opportunities that graces every wedding album. The cake cutting represents the first activity done as a couple, although historically the bride did this act alone to symbolize the loss of her virginity…woops.

Cake cutting became a more difficult process as cakes became multi-tiered and the number of guests reached the hundreds. These days, the bride requires the groom’s assistance and usually they do not cut the entire cake up, but instead leave that duty to the caterer.

Later on, in the reception, the bride and groom will often ceremoniously cut the first piece of cake and feed a bite to one another. Wedding cakes are usually elaborate multi-tiered cakes. Couples today often choose to cut costs by having an extravagant fake display cake and serving guests a sheet cake.

The groom’s cake, which originated in the Southern United States, is becoming an increasingly popular trend around the country. Traditionally the pristine, white cake was considered too light for male tastes, so a second cake, usually a liquor-soaked fruit cake, was offered as the groom’s cake. Today groom’s cakes are works of art.

These days, there are many more activities that can make the wedding cake more about fun and less about tradition.

Click here for: Wedding Cakes: Designing Your Wedding Cake and Cake Activities


Bridal Bouquet Throwing

Of all the weird traditions at weddings – wearing a veil, not seeing the bride before the wedding, making sure the wedding rings will not fall while wearing it to each other– one stands out as a particularly bizarre thing to do.

Anyone who has been at a wedding has seen the sometimes cringe-worthy moment: The host informs all single ladies to get into position on the dance floor for the tossing of the bride’s bouquet. Ladies try to get their angle just right behind the bride to assure when they reach out their hands, the beautiful bouquet will land in their possession. But why all this effort over a few pretty flowers?

According to history, hundreds of years ago, it was considered very good luck to touch the bride – and even better luck to grab a piece of the bride (that’s pretty gore, isn’t it?), in the form of her wedding dress or veil.

To avoid a ruined dress and physical injury from being grabbed at as they were trying to run off on their honeymoon, brides began throwing their bouquets to distract their guests and make them chase after the flowers, instead of her and her gown.

Thankfully, guests got contented with grabbing the flowers instead, which were still believed to bring romantic luck for the future. Meaning whoever managed to steal the bouquet was obviously going to get married next!

Click Here for: Wedding Bouquet: Flowers and Activities

Wedding Photos

To preserve the once-in-a-lifetime event of the couple, photos (and sometimes videos) are really important in weddings.

Couples want to have a photo of their invitations, their shoes, the rings, their aunt Sarah or maybe the groom’s dog who’s wearing a very cute bow tie. Of course, they can’t say that to the wedding photographer on the day of their wedding.

To avoid stress and regretting their wedding photos, couple nowadays are preparing their photo checklist.

Here’s a sample.

Before the Big Day

Wedding Day: Pre-Ceremony Wedding Photo Checklist: Getting Ready

  • Bride having her hair styled and makeup applied
  • The Bride’s gown hanging on a padded hanger, spread on the bed, or draped over a chair
  • Still life shots of the bride’s shoes, jewelry, something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue
  • Detailed shots of the bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets
  • Shot of wedding invitation
  • Candid shots of bride and bridesmaids getting their hair and makeup done
  • Dress hanging, jewelry laid out, shoes, etc.
  • Bouquets and buttonholes/corsages
  • Bride’s putting on dress/veil with help from the mother of the bride or bridesmaids or the mother buttoning or zipping up the bride’s dress
  • Close up of dress details
  • Wearing the pieces of jewelry
  • Putting on shoes
  • Close up of bride holding bouquet
  • Full-length shot of the bride in her gown, looking at herself in a mirror
  • Bridesmaids reacting to the bride in her gown
  • Mother and bride portrait
  • Father seeing the bride in her gown
  • The father and bride portrait
  • Bride with her parents and siblings
  • Family shots
  • Bride spending moment alone
  • The Bride with her bridesmaids
  • Bridal party walking downstairs/leaving the house
  • Groom getting ready with his father and groomsmen
  • The groom with the best man
  • Groom with his groomsmen
  • Groomsmen putting on boutonnieres or ties
  • The Groom spending moment alone
  • Groom with his parents and siblings
  • Close-up shot of the wedding bands
  • Wedding ring shots
  • Bride and groom separately making their way to the ceremony

The Trip to the Ceremony/Venue

  • Bride and father/mother
  • The bride and bridesmaids/flower girls
  • Groom and groomsmen/page boys
  • Shot of the wedding car

Wedding Day: Wedding Ceremony Photo Checklist

Wedding Reception

  • Shots of empty venue/church, including the altar, flowers, interior, and exterior details
  • Groom walking down the aisle with his mother
  • The groom and groomsmen waiting inside venue/church
  • Guests outside and inside the church
  • Ushers handing out program
  • The bride arriving in a wedding car
  • Bride stepping out of the car
  • The bride and bridesmaids at the back of the venue/church
  • Bridal party walking down the aisle
  • Both sets of grandparents walking down the aisle
  • Bride and her escort waiting to walk down the aisle
  • Close-up of the bride just before she makes her entrance
  • Bride and her escort (usually the father) walking up the aisle
  • Close-up of groom’s expression while waiting for the bride
  • Father/mother giving the bride away
  • Bride and groom at the altar
  • Close-up of the bride and groom as they recite their vows
  • Both sets of parents watching the ceremony
  • The lighting of the unity candle
  • Ring bearer

  • Close-up of the bride and groom’s hands as they exchange rings
  • Wide shot of the altar, from the guests’ point of view
  • Participants such as readers, officiant, musicians, etc.
  • Wide shot of the guests, from the couple’s point of view
  • The first kiss as a married couple, and the moment after
  • Signing the register
  • The recessional/couple walking back down the aisle
  • Close-up of the newlyweds immediately after the ceremony
  • Newlywed shot
  • Confetti throwing
  • Greeting guests outside the venue
  • Bride and groom hugging family and friends
  • The bride showing off her wedding ring to her bridesmaids
  • Bride and groom leaving the ceremony site
  • Couple in the back seat of wedding car

Wedding Day: Post-Ceremony Wedding Photo Checklist

Couple Shots

Wedding Reception

  • Portraits of the couple alone
  • The Portraits of the bride/groom on their own

Bridal Party

Wedding Reception

    • Couple with bridesmaids/groomsmen
    • The couple with the entire wedding party
    • Bride(s) with bridesmaids/maid of honor
    • Groom(s) and groomsmen/best man
    • Couple with any children in the wedding party
    • Bride and groom with the entire wedding party


Wedding Reception

  • Bride with her mother
  • The bride with her father
  • Bride with both parents
  • The bride with her entire immediate family
  • Groom with his mother
  • The groom with his father
  • Groom with both parents
  • The groom with his entire immediate family
  • Bride and groom with bride’s family
  • The bride and groom with groom’s family
  • Bride and groom with both sets of parents
  • The bride and groom with immediate family members from both sides

Informal shots

Wedding Reception

  • Shots with friends
  • With the guests eating, drinking, and chatting
  • Any specific groups of friends, ex: college pals, school mates, teammates

Wedding Day: Wedding Reception Photo Checklist

Wedding Reception

  • The reception space set up, exterior and interior shots of the site before the guests arrive
  • Still-life shots of place cards, menus, centerpieces, decorations, table settings, favors, and Champagne glasses
  • Wedding cake detail shots
  • Hors d’oeuvres and specialty drinks
  • Guests arriving and signing the guest book
  • Couple arriving
  • Toasts and speeches
  • Close-ups of friends and family making toasts
  • Bride and groom sipping Champagne at their table
  • The bride and groom speaking with guests
  • Bride and groom cutting the cake
  • The first dance
  • Bride and groom’s first dance
  • The bride dancing with her father
  • Groom dancing with his mother
  • Parents and grandparents dancing
  • Wedding party dancing
  • Couple mingling with guests
  • Guests dancing
  • Bride and groom dancing with the bridal party
  • Musicians, DJs, and/or entertainers performing
  • Bouquet toss
  • Newlyweds’ vehicle
  • Bride and groom leaving the reception

Click here for: Wedding Photos: Hiring a Photographer and Activities

Wedding Games

Wedding Reception

Weddings are not only a chance to celebrate a new marriage. It’s the day when most of the couple’s friends and families are gathered in one place. Entertaining wedding games of all kinds invigorate the evening, adding a childlike liveliness to the event and helping groups mingle and socialize.

Wedding Game Ideas

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