The Wedding Reception

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While the only two requirements for a wedding reception are cake and champagne, menus for marriage run the full gamut, from a light breakfast to an elaborate dinner. It is considered courteous to serve guests a meal appropriate to the time that the wedding reception is being held. However, if reception plans and budget do not include a full dinner, the invitation should suggest this intention. Indicating the menu plan on the invitations, will eliminate guests’ preconceived expectations for a meal. Alternatives to full menus could be Cake and Champagne or Hors D’oeuvres and Cocktails.


The trick with hors d’oeuvres is to design a menu that has broad appeal, is appetizing, and leaves guests with energy to party. Besides hors d’oeuvres, having one or two stations with guacamole and chips and baked brie, not only helps discourage people from jumping the waiters as they come out of the kitchen door but also provides a natural gathering spot.

Passed hors d’oeuvres are usually priced per piece or included in the meal package. For a raw bar, carving station, or pasta assortment, you will most likely be charged per head. Between 8 and 10 pieces per person is ample for a one-hour cocktail reception


Here are a few popular options for the dining service of the wedding reception:

French Service
Waiters heat plates and garnish food at a side table or cart. Although considered the height of elegance, it is rather slow and requires a great deal of space

Russian Service
Waiters serve from a silver platter.

Plated or a la carte
Waiters carry the food out on plates. The most elegant way to serve plated food is to have waiters carry two plates at a time and, choreographed by the captains, “blanket” the room, completing one table at a time.

Buffets are food stations that enable you to serve eclectic and creative meals without traffic jams and are very much in vogue. Buffets will create a shorter reception than a served meal because downtime between courses disappears. Have the headwaiter discreetly issue the invitation to the buffet to each table…never use a microphone.

Choose a buffet menu with a variety of colors, textures and temperatures. Stay away from a line-up of silver chafing dishes as they look fairly institutional. Instead choose unique baskets, platters and bowls. Keep in mind that buffets are not necessarily a bargain budget option as you have no control over portions.


It is said that toasts got their start in 16th-century France when a piece of bread was put in the bottom of a wine goblet to soak up sediment from the wine. The goblet was passed from woman to woman, with the last woman to drink getting the “toast” for good luck.

The best man is introduced and asks everyone to stand. The bride and groom should remain seated. His toast may be brief and sentimental or it can be more detailed and personal, often amusing and anecdotal. It should reflect the hope and happiness for the couple. It should never reflect the highlights of the bachelor party.

The champagne or sparkling wine chosen to be served at the wedding should be special, one the guests will remember, so it’s best not to cut corners here. On average, allow two drinks per person during the first hour of the reception and one per hour thereafter. Also consider the time of year (guests drink more in warmer weather), the time of day (people drink more in the evening) and the age of your guests (people in their 20s and over 50 tend to drink more).


Long considered tokens of appreciation to their family and friends from the bride and groom, wedding favours come from a beloved Italian tradition. Tulle-wrapped bundles of sugared almonds representing the bitterness and sweetness of married life are always brought home by guests at Italian weddings. Favours can be the sweetest, most imaginative tokens for wedding guests, representing the bride and groom’s personality, style and wit. From personalized golf balls to tiny clay pots with tree or flower seeds to small crystal vases to holiday ornaments, wedding favours are a wonderful way to remember the special day as well as to thank guests for their attendance.


The wedding does not end with the reception. The day following the exchanging of vows is traditionally when a gift opening is held. This gathering often takes the form of a champagne breakfast, light brunch, or afternoon tea. The gift opening can take place in a variety of locations, from the home to the hall where the reception was held.

When opening the gifts, have someone record who each gift is from, to ensure that all gift givers are properly thanked.


Think Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg at the Academy Awards. What is their role? They’re the people who preside over the activities, making sure things go as planned while providing commentary in keeping with the special occasion. The same applies to a Master of Ceremonies of a wedding. He is the one who will keep things going, he’ll break the ice and he’ll also ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. It’s up to him to make certain that everyone’s speaking has something planned and their speech is tasteful and light-hearted.

He’ll need to meet with the Bride and Groom and their parents to understand what type of event they have planned and what people will be speaking. Is the event traditional or a bit more contemporary? Will the bridesmaids speak or just the best man? How many people will be attending and the format of the events planned including time, places, etc.

Some must knows:

  • Keeps to agenda
  • When his time has come to hit the microphone, introduces himself and his relationship to the party. Thank the guests for coming on behalf of the bride and the groom.
  • Asks everyone to stand as the bridal party takes their seats if this is how the bride and the groom want to be introduced.
  • Introduces the head table and any members of the wedding party that may not be sitting at the head table.
  • Allows time for photographs.
  • Introduces the parents of the bride and the groom.
  • Introduces special guests including those from out of town.
  • He may have letters and well wishes to read.
  • Announces toasts
  • Announces the cutting of the cake
  • Announces any special events, like the garter and bouquet toss.
  • Announces the location and time of the gift opening How should he look?
  • If the wedding party is formal-wear, so should he be.
  • Complimenting the colours of the wedding party.
  • The Master of Ceremonies shouldn’t expect the bride and the groom to pay for his garments.

Setting for stage

  • Know the mood of the wedding, is it casual or formal?
  • Adjusts his style to the event
  • Keeps things “clean” and “general” for all ages
  • Stays away from the four things you’re never suppose to discuss in a room full of people having a good time: sex, politics, race or religion
  • He will want to include any inside info into the romance, for example, when the groom knew he loved the bride and wanted to marry her.
  • Makes sure that those speaking know how long their time is at the podium to ensure that everyone planned to speak has a chance without dragging the event on too long.