13 Ways to Make Your Reception Memorable - zackbradleyphotography.com

13 Ways to Make Your Reception Memorable

When you think about your wedding day what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Your mind probably automatically went to some part of the ceremony because it’s a pretty important step of the day right? But when it comes down to it, what you and your guests are probably looking forward to most is the reception. After all, it’s not every day you get to celebrate with all of your closest friends and family!

The best receptions are a representation of you and your fiance and have elements that people will talk about for years to come. To help you get inspired, I’ve created a short list for some of the best ways to make your reception memorable!

13 Ways to Make Your Reception Memorable

Old Cigar Warehouse Reception. Greenville, SC


It goes without saying that a party isn’t really a party without music, but should you choose a DJ or Live Music? That depends on what kind of vibe you want (see more on that here). A professional DJ can cater to any type of party and will work with you to create the perfect playlist of prerecorded music. On the other hand, live musicians can keep the party going with covers and really interact with crowd during the reception and ceremony. Work with either to create a general list of music that appeals to the crowd and try to steer clear of Nickelback.

Entertainment is a big factor in how long your guests stay and having someone who knows how to keep the dance floor packed is priceless.


Basic concept for feeding large crowds: make sure the food is tasty. This is the one time in your life where it’s socially acceptable to eat a plate full of carbs so choose your favorite foods and go all in!

Instead of the traditional plated dinners (check the box for salmon or steak) think outside the box with buffet style food stations like a cinnamon roll fountain or build your own s’more station.

Alternatively, ask if the chef can make an announcement to describe each course as it’s being served. It’s classy and a power move that will impress that cousin that’s always seemed a little cooler than everyone else since you were kids.

Interactive Food Station, Hotel Domestique, Travelers Rest, SC

First Look at Revel Greenville, SC

Maximize Your Reception Time By Doing a First Look

The timeline of your wedding is all about priorities. If you want to have the traditional moment of seeing each other for the first time during the ceremony, you’re going to have to do all of your photos immediately after the ceremony. The only way to avoid making your guests wait and hour or more to celebrate with you is by doing a first look. In my opinion its a much more intimate way to connect on your day and it increases the amount of time you get to spend with your guests after the ceremony and for photos before the ceremony. As an added bonus the more time you give your photographer to work with you two, the more creative and impressive the images will be!


Having games available is a great way to supplement dancing and is perfect for barn weddings or venues with outdoor spaces where you can set up lawn games like giant jenga, bocce ball, corn hole, or even croquet.

This also give kids at the wedding something to do other than run circles at Mach 3 around your legs while you dance. There are a ton of game options and it really comes down to what you think your guests would enjoy.

Remember that pretty much any game can be turned into a drinking game with the right attitude!



Hire a Photographer With a Sense of Humor

You’ll most likely interact with your photographer more than any other vendor on your wedding day. So it’s crucial to find someone who you click with and can make you laugh and feel comfortable behind the camera. You’ll want someone who can engage with your guests to get great photos through the entire day for great candid shots as well as the formal photos. It really does pay off to have a photographer that can offer great photos, deliver an amazing experience, and is named Zack Bradley (Shameless plug). Your photographer should make a point to make your day as fun as possible and capture all the goofy and beautiful things that happen along the way!

Two Words: Champagne Wall

It’s time for the toasts and you want every person to have a a glass in hand to raise at the right moment (except for little Timmy because that’s just irresponsible). But, how will you get glasses to all those people quickly?

One of the coolest new trends for receptions are dessert and beverage walls such as this champagne wall from Bearded Bartenders. It looks fantastic and is a surprisingly efficient way to make sure everyone has a glass in hand for toasts.

Having up to 150 glasses of champagne on hand is no small feat so an elegant display like this is definitely the move to make.

Champ Wall.jpg


Party Favors

Giving your guests a little gift to show your thanks to them for coming to one of the biggest days of your life is a great way to ensure that everyone has a fun time and has something to remember the day by. Custom printed items like koozies, candles, and wildflower seeds are things that remind your guests of your wedding every time they use them. Other fun ideas like candy bags, succulents, or cigars & matches are little treats that are always a big hit.

Whatever it is, make it a reflection of your personalities and it will be a hit for sure!

Have a Signature Drink

Picture this, it’s late Summer and everyone is dressed to the nine’s, dancing under sparkling lights and flowers while sipping on your favorite cocktail. And just like that you’ve set up all the pieces of a night your guests will never forget.

If you already have a favorite drink then it can be pretty simple to choose what you’d like to serve up. Otherwise I’d suggest trying out a few combinations at home and picking one or two simple concoctions that tickle your fancy. If you need help deciding, companies like Liquid Catering and Bearded Bartenders are great resources.



Keep Toasts Short & Sweet

This is pretty strait forward and may seem a little controversial but when 6 people give 10 minute toasts each, the time adds up quickly.

The best way to manage this is for you to choose 2 or 3 VIP’s to toast to your future and bring up some embarrassing stories from your past. Longer toasts can be made at the rehearsal dinner to help keep reception toasts under 2 minutes and get you back to partying. Remember, there’s cake waiting am I right?

Hire a Day Of Coordinator

You’ve spent the last few months of your life stressing over seating charts, color schemes, and all the little details that will make your wedding perfect but now it’s time to let someone else take charge and make sure everything comes together beautifully and runs smoothly! There are a ton of moving parts to any wedding day and none of them will just fall into place without someone knowledgeable to handle the timeline along with the vendors and guests. Coordinators like RSVP and HGC Events are amazing to work with and take all that stress off of your plate. Getting everyone down the aisle on time, making sure everything is handled while you take photos, feeding 50+ people, organizing toasts, cake cutting, bouquet toss, newly-wed games…it takes a lot of coordination and time. You’ll thank me for this one later.



Have a Custom Photobooth

Having a photobooth option with a custom background (our calligraphy chalkboard with your names and wedding date for instance) is the one of the most fun ways to get everyone involved your reception. Use props and get everyone together for some hilarious photos, then print them and slide them in a pre-made customized album or send photos and GIF’s directly to your phone with a social booth! If you’ve got a large indoor venue you can even have a booth that creates 360° slow motion videos!

Hire a Food Truck For Late Night Snaaaaacks

Have you ever been out late with friends and suddenly hunger strikes?

If you want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you or your guests, might I suggest the holy grail of post party snacks? Food trucks are an trendy and efficient way to feed the multitudes and there are a lot more options than you might think! Check out this list of some of the best food trucks in Greenville, SC. Track the calendar and try out a few of them to see if one is a good fit for you.

Tacos Bla Bla Bla.jpg


Do a Grand Exit

If you want to feel like an absolute rock star, a Grand Exit is the way to go. Sparklers, bubbles, light wands, snow, fog, biodegradable confetti, rice? There are tons of options to make this an epic moment for you and your guests for your getaway. Bonus points for riding off into the sunset in a classic car or horse drawn carriage.

BONUS: Enjoy Yourself

Whatever you choose to do for your reception is going to be amazing because you’re with the people you love. So let loose, be present, and enjoy the ride!

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