40 Wedding Reception Ideas that Will Make You Look Like a Pro

Feel Like a Professional & Delight Your Reception Guests

Food & Beverage

  1. Have a caramel apple station, pumpkin decorating booth and cotton candy machine at a fall wedding.
  2. Serve finger sandwiches on heart-shaped bread.
  3. Dress up reception food tables with ice sculptures and breads in animal shapes.
  4. Replace the open bar with sophisticated tea, juice and cappuccino bars.
  5. Break a loaf of bread to ceremoniously start the reception meal since it’s a sign of good fortune. Place a loaf on each guest table so all can break bread together.
  6. Serve cocktails from a surfboard placed on painted saw horses at a summer beach themed wedding or from ice-filled painted canoe.
  7. Replace the traditional cake-topper with a miniature tent and serving smores along with the cake
  8. Host “Happy Hour” before your ceremony. Greet guests with canapes and champagne and thank them for attending.
  9. Serve dinner food family-style in heirloom bowls at elongated dining tables.
  10. Serve chocolate banana cake instead of wedding cake. Toast with hot chocolate for a winter wedding.
  11. Dress food servers in period clothing or outfits matching the wedding style and theme and ask them to sing while serving.
  12. Order a square wedding cake or serve heart-shaped brownies.

peacockGuest Registry

  1. Ask guests to legibly sign a designated tablecloth with a cloth pen. Afterwards, embroider the names on your marriage tablecloth.
  2. Collect guest signatures on an unglazed piece of pottery in lieu of a guestbook. Glaze and keep as a keepsake.
  3. Create a thumbprint guest book. Guests place colored thumbprints as leaves, peacock feathers or balloons and then add their names to the print.
  4. Guests pen messages on river rocks that later are covered with clear acrylic gloss to keep from fading.
  5. Ask guests to make wishes for you by writing them on a card they hang on a wishing tree.


  1. String unmatched, interesting lights and Chinese lanterns at an outdoor reception.
  2. Decorate guest tables with the state flower.
  3. Etch “love” “hug” or “just married” on to flat, smooth stones and place at each table setting as a favor.
  4. Design floral chandeliers to hang above each guest table. Place ribbon-wrapped votive candle holders on each table.
  5. Use acrylic ballroom chairs with monogrammed pillows placed on them for color and comfort. Guests take the pillows as a party favor.
  6. Hang wedding themed pinatas from the ceiling.
  7. Place fun-filled globe ornaments on tables as centerpieces.
  8. Hang glow-in-the-dark stars from the ceiling above the cake table. Turn the lights off for maximum effect.
  9. Replace floral centerpieces with appetizer trays. As the reception proceeds, replace these trays with dessert trays.
  10. Present guests pear-shaped candles with a tag that includes the bride and groom names, wedding date and “We’re a perfect pair!”


  1. Have a hula-hoop contest and award prizes.
  2. Toss the garter strapped to a football, baseball or whiffleball. Watch unmarried males guests run for it.
  3. Hire jazz musicians, children’s choir, drum majorette or baton twirlers to lead guests from the ceremony to the reception location.
  4. Ask guests to play musical chairs at the reception.
  5. Hire troubadours (group of singers or musicians) from the local college who move around the room entertaining guests during the dinner reception.
  6. Give the “toss bouquet” to the longest married couple.
  7. Ask the DJ to host a lip sync contest with your three favorite songs.


  1. Leave the reception showered with yellow-colored paper smiley faces, “Just Married” confetti and multi-colored paper streamers.
  2. Adorn the go-away vehicle’s hood or hitch with a heart-shaped arrangement of rosebuds and place “Just Married” flag on window. Ask a grandfather to be the chauffeur.
  3. Decorate and fill colorful bags for guests to take when leaving. Contents include breakfast items like bagels or mini-muffins, juice boxes and a piece of fruit. Include a small note of thanks and appreciation. Seal with new initials. Favors left by the door do not need to be as elaborate as those left on the guest tables.
  4. Send guests home with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and family sugar cookie recipe.
  5. Express your joy with a helium balloon release, fireworks, a plane-flown banner or a sky-written message.
  6. Let guests toss pre-made paper airplanes as you leave.

Know someone planning a wedding? Share this with them. Help them create a wedding reception to remember.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

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©Copyright. February 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

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