Running a ritzy wedding reception on recession resources

Your Wedding Reception

by Joan Wai


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"I am so bored" is something that no newlywed wants to overhear at her wedding reception. A budget bride who has committed every penny to the dress and food may not have many resources left for planning reception entertainment. Yet, the wedding reception is where guests will commit the most time during the bridal blitz. Here are some penny-wise ideas to make friends and family feel special and swanky at the wedding reception.

Set a Fashion Shoot

Ask a shutterbug to snap guest arrivals in a devoted niche. Take the picture party a step further by posing people in front of a white backdrop. Bunch their faces together, have them stand in profile, link arms, or group hug. If a plain background is not convenient, shoot black and white photos to make personalities pop. Or, scavenge some silly props from second-hand shops and let people show their creativity for the camera. Project a slideshow of the artsy pictures during the wedding reception. Afterwards, post pictures to a website where guests can download or order prints of their own pictures.

Lower the Lights

Dim lighting creates a more intimate space while camouflaging the lack of room dressing. Candlelight adds a flattering glow for minimal investment. If votives are too expensive, dig out holiday light strands on white wires or buy used ones through eBay. String them overhead from various points to meet in the center forming a sparkling canopy. Even lining just the walls of the room will add affordable atmosphere.

Create a Convivial Competition

Trivia questions and simple scavenger hunts are tried-and-true reception entertainment. Take it to the next level; pen a brief story about the happy couple and then take out key nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Solicit guests to fill in the blanks and read their story to them. Host participatory games. Blindfold one member of a couple and then clip three small binder clips onto the other. The blindfolded person has to locate all the clips by touch within one minute. Call up volunteers to race against the bride and groom for side-splitting laughs and great memories. The more games that involve attendees, the more opportunities to mingle and make new friends.

Ditch the DJ

Recruit a hammy friend to work the room as master-of-ceremonies. It's very easy to rip your own CD of wedding music to play during the wedding reception, and it's even easier to plug in your iPod and do the shuffle.

Make Love in a Tree

Cut solid colored ribbon of different lengths and provide guests with pens to write some wedding advice. Ask them to tie their ribbon onto a small tree branch that has been secured to a clay pot. The bride and groom can randomly pull wisdom off the branches to share with the group and award table centerpieces if desired.

Glam Up Frugal Favors

Plenty of inexpensive thank you gifts are offered via wedding favor websites. Crowd pleasers include tying a bow around young ivy seedlings or herb seed packets, repackaging candies, mints or cookies in organza or tulle, and dressing tea bags in pretty gift-wrap. Stamp out a monogram or fleur de lys on a circle sticker and affix atop a ribbon around your favor for instant luxury. Bunch your favors together on each table for double-duty as a centerpiece.


Joan Wai is the author of 100+ Wedding Games: Fun & Laughs for Bachelorette Parties, Showers & Receptions and 100+ Baby Shower Games. 100+ Wedding Games is the only book in print describing over 100 wedding-themed activities for entertaining.

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