I was going to call this Top Ten Wedding Reception Pet Peeves, but I can’t stand people that have pet peeves. Instead, here is a list of ten items of which you should take note and try to avoid when planning a wedding reception. I apologize for making fun of you if you have already had your wedding reception and did one of these items.
Long Time Between the Service and Reception
I understand that you really wanted your service at Church X and that you couldn't have your reception anywhere but Place Y and that Photographer Z could only do the group shots after the wedding and to coordinate all those desires you have a three hour gap between the wedding and the reception. I know that you’ll be busy in that time, but I have absolutely nothing to do except to sit in a bar and drink. Now all of a sudden you got a reception full of people that have been angrily drinking for three hours. For your next marriage, (because there’s no way that anyone who planned that bullshit will ever keep a spouse) have both the wedding and the reception at the bingo hall. (Of course, there were two months between my wedding and the reception. Guilty as charged.)
Not Getting “The Business” Done
Once you realized that the wedding and reception should be back to back, you also need to understand that a wedding isn't a kid's birthday party where you need to spread out the activities through the whole event. In your planning, make sure you cram all that traditional crap all together in the first 30 minutes of the reception. I expect the Best Man / Chick of Honor speech to run right into the cake cutting and as you are wiping the cake off your face you should be having your first dance/dance with dad and then throw the bouquet. Then everyone can drink uninterrupted or leave as they see fit. Don’t be a prima donna and stretch out all the fluff and have everything perfectly staged and managed. Get in, get it done, get out.
Not Enough Bartenders
I am a big fan of open bar, but I understand that your friends are alcoholics and that a cash bar helps to slow them down. What I can’t stand is when a wedding of 200 has one bar with two bartenders. If I am stuck in line with an empty glass, that means that I’ll also be stuck talking with one of your spouse’s relatives. You don’t want me to talk to your spouse’s relatives because I might let the mountain goat story slide out and I don’t think the statute of limitations is up on that one, pal. A reception should have a minimum of two bartenders with one bartender for every 50 people. And while I think a cash bar is fine for wine and liquor, pony up the cash for a keg or two so that your poor friends that could only afford to get you a box of Tide as a gift can have something to drink.
BETH EDIT: I recently went to Beth's wedding and she had a great idea. As people moved from the wedding to the reception, (the wedding and reception were back to back, see the section "Long Time Between the Service and Reception"), servers made their way into the crowd with trays of wine and beer. Everyone had a drink within five minutes. Absolutely brilliant.
The DJ Who Thinks He's Actually A DJ
Don’t trust your buddy with an iPod and two speakers to DJ your wedding. Hire a real DJ. But during your interview, make sure you tell them that 4/5th of their payment will be held back until after the event and possibly forfeited if they break any of the following rules:
#1 No Macarena
#2 Only ONE line dance
#3 Stick to the genres of music that will be provided to you before the event. Don’t stray.
#4 NO FUCKING CONGA LINE
#5 The DJ is allowed to give their phone number out to one pre-approved guest.
#6 No props.
#7 If I see a disco ball or a single multicolor rotating light, you will be beaten with a rental folding chair. Either come with a $35,000 lighting show or don’t bring anything.
#8 You get one drink when the wedding is ¾ done. You can drink any of the leftovers when the reception is over.
#9 Do you really need an assistant? You are hitting NEXT on an iPod for fucks sake.
#10 And most of all… don’t give color commentary on anything that any one is doing. You are to speak only when announcing events as they happen. Don’t tell us what song you are going to play next. Don’t tell us how lovely the bride looks. Don’t mention that Aunt Eleanor is really shaking it with that new hip. Just keep hitting play and you’ll get your check.
Release the Tables
If you can't afford the extra $15,000 to have servers bring the dry chicken and salty asparagus to your guests, you might decide to have a buffet. That’s fine because your guests aren’t really worth the extra money. But if you do have a buffet, don’t leave it up to your guests to decide when they should stand up to go stand in line. Release the tables by number or have a couple of family members do it for you. Just don’t pretend like your starving guests can regulate the line. Someone is going to ditch Aunt Elenaor and she has been pretty feisty since she got that hip replaced. I once attended a wedding where the father of the bride walked into a room with over 250+ people in it and said, “The buffet line is open,” and left. 250+ people looked at each other for six seconds and then stood up in unison to head towards the food. Miss Sally and I walked the fuck out.
Invite Guests at the Last Minute
Don’t invite last minute guests that you meet through the wedding process. It’s bad enough you have to invite the padre and the photographer. At a wedding recently, one of the guests asked about two of the scantily clad guests who were spending a lot of time grinding on relatives and each other. The reply was that the two girls were the strippers from the bachelor party and the groom took such a liking to them that he invited them to the wedding. TRUE STORY.
Don’t smash the cake in each other’s faces. And if you do, plan it out ahead of time so you both do it to each other in some fun way that will make it to YouTube so that you can generate some ad revenue and pay for the third and fourth bartender.
People Not Dancing
This one has to do more with a combination of the DJ and the guests, but I clearly blame the guests for this one. Receptions must be successful. Even if the bride and groom do everything as instructed above, the reception can fail if you, the guest, don’t dance. Don’t make the bride pull you off your chair and on to the dance floor. Suck it up for one night and dance. If you see the floor is empty, tell your pals to get off their asses and at least sway out on the dance floor. This is the one opportunity for the DJ to use his “Line Dance” card. Make sure he doesn’t blow it in the first ten minutes of the reception. Come on… just dance. You saw Footloose, Willard… you know how to dance.
The “Kill You” Speech
I didn’t think this one was real, but I have witnessed it at three (yes, three) weddings. At some point during the Best Man speech, someone, either a family member or close female friend, will profess their family/friend love of the bride and then say something along the lines of, “…and if you ever hurt her, I (we) will hunt you down and kill you.” Are you fucking kidding me? You might be saying it in jest, but it makes you sound A) creepy and B) creepy. Just tell them how happy you are for them and sit down. And really, if you feel the need to say this, look at your own meaningless, empty life and try to figure out why you feel the need to say such things. There is still hope for you. Maybe.
You are familiar with this list and understand that some people make mistakes in the planning of their receptions. Now keep it to yourself, asshole. There is a time and a place to complain about a reception and that is the day after. Don’t bitch about the DJ or the bartenders or how long shit is taking during the reception. You are a guest and you should act like one. Get off you ass and dance. Stand in the bar line and chat it up with Uncle Chris. Laugh at the DJs commentary about how the Bride and Groom will be (insert sexual innuendo here) later. No one is perfect. Especially the guy who had his reception in a bingo hall, with no DJ except for a crappy CD player, had volunteer bartenders, and will never ever ever be allowed to help plan with his wedding reception again. At some point I will, I mean, he will have to throw a second one to make up for the first.