It’s Not About the Reception – Chapter 12 of It’s Not About The Wedding

“It was a good time.  Somebody else paid.”  This was a good friend’s response when I told him that I really didn’t remember much about his wedding and reception, which I had attended more than 10 years prior.  The truth is that apart from the five-tiered cake falling over, or the best man’s drunken and tearful speech, most people will remember very little about your wedding reception.

Approximately 50% of many couples’ entire wedding budget is spent on the reception alone.  Considering that in 2007 the average cost of a wedding was around $30,000 – before the recession – that’s a serious chunk of change.  By the middle of 2009, that average cost had plummeted to around $16,000, but we’re still talking about potentially spending thousands of dollars on this one part of your big day.

There are so many potential stressors in planning the reception.  Be careful not to get wrapped up in them.  They include:

The food / caterer
The band / DJ
The location
The first dance
The cake (more on this later)

One of the biggest decisions to be made when planning a wedding reception revolves around the food and drinks.  Do you provide a full, sit-down dinner for each guest?  Should you go with a buffet-style spread?  You could cut costs and go pot luck, asking your guests to bring a dish they have prepared.  Perhaps your event will include only the cake and some of those tasty little mints.  Alcohol or no alcohol?  Open bar or cash bar?  There are so many decisions to be made.  Start by setting a budget for the food and/or drinks and work backwards from there.  Don’t be too worried about any of these choices.  Most likely, not a single person will remember the food from your wedding reception five or ten years from now!

The choice of a live band or a disc jockey may revolve around budget as well.  In fact, those are certainly not the only choices available for music.  I have been to weddings where a string quartet played both in the wedding ceremony as well as at the wedding reception.  There is no right or wrong choice here, simply whatever you desire and can afford.  There’s nothing wrong with an iPod full of your favorite songs playing through a boom box.  Just make sure you have the chicken dance and YMCA.

Where all of this takes place can be as simple or complex a choice as you want to make it.  If your wedding takes place in a church, there may be a multi-purpose room available right there in the same building.  This could be both a time and money saver.  I have heard of reception locations ranging from hotel ball rooms to an outdoor tent, and from a person’s home to the House of Blues.  Budget, space, and personal tastes are the only limitations.

Copyright 2010 KB Image Photography

The first dance is a very unique and special three to five minutes of your life.  It may not seem like a big deal, and for many, it isn’t.  To me, it represents a “calm in the eye in the hurricane” moment of sorts.  The two of you have been immersed in the details of planning and going through a wedding for months.  The past few days, in particular, have probably been quite crazy.  On this day, you have been (and are) surrounded by your closest family and friends, with barely a minute to yourselves.  Take this time to spend a few peaceful moments with your new bride or husband.  The song you choose is completely up to you.  Hold them close.  Gaze into their eyes.  Savor the moment.

Not only is it not about the reception, many newlyweds don’t even have one.  Whether it’s because the marriage took place at the courthouse with the Justice of the Peace, or because it just wasn’t in the budget, a reception is a luxury, not a necessity.  If you are fortunate enough to have one, a reception is simply the icing on the cake.

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~ by suitenectar on September 17, 2010.

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