Family & Education

How to plan the perfect wedding reception

Once the chupah is over, guests must be kept amused while formal photos are taken


Once the chupah is over, the wedding guests bustle excitedly into the wedding reception and wait eagerly to congratulate the bride and groom and their families. They have to be patient, however, as the happy couple and their entourage have probably been whisked away for photographs.

Guests must be entertained in this interim period — and you can now offer them a lot more than a glass of champagne.

A taste of what’s to come

It may have been only a couple of hours since lunch, but you can guarantee that by the end of the wedding service your guests will be famished. While the traditional salt beef sandwich and sushi stands are always popular, why not be a little different? It is probably not long past teatime, so consider offering a mini afternoon tea, teamed with champagne cocktails.

Or bring in a few on-trend tasters, such as mini Buddha bowls; dishes of kimchi or Hawaiian poké plates, served with a fashionably fruity gin cocktail. Just remember to make the portions small, so guests do not feel too full for dinner later.

Get them snapping

Your photographer and videographer may be tied up with the official photos at this time, but that doesn’t mean there should be a blank space in your wedding album for this stage of the simchah. Have disposable or instant print cameras dotted around on tables and chairs, attached to a sign that says: “Use me to contribute to our wedding memories”. Your guests will enjoy snapping away.

Photo booths are also a fun way to keep guests busy and the happy couple will enjoy looking through the shots and reading the messages in the accompanying message book the next day.

Photo booths have also come a long way from the standard passport-photo enclosure. Some now take the form of portable magic mirrors — guests stand in front and pose and the results look much more in keeping with the wedding theme.

If you fancy a more quirky look, Coco Photo Booths (0330 031 4650, come in the form of a traditional London taxi or retro car, among other options.

A memory wall

Organise a large screen TV or video wall that displays cute and amusing photos and videos from the bride’s and groom’s past. Make sure that there is at least one shot involving nearly every guest, as they will all be trying to spot themselves and being able to say where they were when the photo was taken will create an instant talking point.

Sound Division (020 8349 5200, offers a variety of audio-visual options for events.

Bring on an act

Why not make your wedding reception into a showpiece with live performers — a magician; caricaturist; celebrity look-alike or even circus acts?

Encore Entertainment’s Surprise Singing Waiters will certainly keep guests amused.

“We have three superb singers, all West End soloists, disguised as catering staff,” says Rebecca Wicking, event manager at the company’s Jewish Encore division. “One is a chef, one is a banqueting manager and the third a waitress. After a surprise announcement during the main course of the meal, the singers individually burst into song, interspersed with fun dialogue and perform a well-rehearsed, fun and thrilling surprise act.

“As part of the package, we can also offer some background singing during the reception.”

Encore Entertainment tailors the act for Jewish functions too.

“Jewish Encore is specific to the Jewish market in terms of songs and dialogue,” says Wicking. “All the songs are tailor-made more for a Jewish audience. There’s lots of Fiddler on the Roof, as well an Israeli dancing medley for everyone to dance to.”

Make it musical

You may want to save your main live band or DJ set for the first dance, but it is still lovely to have some music playing at the start of a wedding reception.

Consider something a little different, such as a string quartet, steel band, brass band, honky tonk pianist or harpist. Or if you really want your guests to let their hair down, a karaoke set.

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