Have a Game Plan for Kids
To keep the little ones entertained throughout the night (and to give their parents an opportunity to hit the dance floor!), set up an area specifically for them. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter who can set up movies for them to watch. Or designate a couple tables just for the kids and pack them with coloring books, crayons, and small toys.
If You’ve Hired a Band, Make Sure There’s Good “Break” Music
We’ve all been to that wedding before: Just when the dance floor starts to get packed, the band takes a break and the party dies. Don’t let that happen to you. When you hire your band, ask specifically about how they plan to handle breaks. Some bands will take them in shifts and split off into a smaller 2- or 3-piece bands. Others will turn on filler music. If yours is planning to use filler music, ask whether you can provide the mix.
If You’ve Hired a DJ, Make Sure You Share the Same Tastes
Okay, this is an obvious one, but it made the list because music is a major fun factor at the reception and it has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the “chicken dance” comes on. So, make sure to talk to your DJ about your do-not-play list.
Add a Lounge to Your Reception
If at all possible, create a lounge-like area in your reception space. Why? People can get antsy. Instead of having your guests sit around the same dinner tables all night, a change of environment will promote conversation and keep even your nondancing guests entertained. Look into renting or borrowing couches, chairs, and other pieces of furniture that you can then stage with pillows and votive candles in your wedding colors.
Give Out Party Favors
Don’t forget that a reception is a party! Let your guests know that it’s okay to cut loose after a formal ceremony by passing out crazy wedding favors at the reception. A few of our favorite ideas? Funky masks, noisemakers, or Silly String. We even know one couple who handed out neckties and encouraged their guests to tie them around their heads on the dance floor. Quirky, but definitely fun!
Keep Your Guests Fueled
If you want to ensure an all-night crowd, arrange for your catering staff to bring out trays of late-night munchies like French fries or a self-serve taco bar. If you stick with low-key, comfort foods like those, they’ll wish the party would never end. Another great idea: Offer a coffee bar complete with special syrups and toppings to keep them caffeinated.
Plan a Surprise
Sometimes the best parts of a reception are the things guests don’t see coming. Surprise your guests with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a belly dancer (a la Rachel Getting Married), a mariachi band, or even a salsa dancer.