Receptions: Beyond the Sit-down Dinner

If nighttime isn't the right time for your reception, think creatively! Here, some top wedding planners provide inspiration and tips.

Sweet Surprises

“A colorful, less-formal wedding cake is a great option for a lunch reception, as are small, individual cakes. You might also try having a smaller cake for the cutting ceremony and serve a variety of other desserts as well. More fun ideas include a strawberry bar loaded with plump, oversize berries and a variety of toppings, like melted chocolate and whipped cream, or a ‘fire station’ with bananas Foster—the flames really excite the crowd. You also can offer a table with little bites, like mini brownies, pastries and fruit tarts. For a unique look, serve white chocolate mousse in martini glasses.”

Daytime Drinks

“Feature the bride’s and groom’s two favorite mixed drinks. For a fun twist, rename the drinks to honor the couple (like Cara’s Cosmopolitan). Other popular mixed drinks are specialty martinis and Long Island Iced Teas. Or, do a bar where you offer everything ‘white,’ from chardonnay to vodka.”

Pastoral Palettes

“For a crisp, clean look, pair a fresh, grassy green with white and touches of daffodil yellow. Or, try white with shades of blue and yellow, for a distinctive French-country feel. Display clusters of flowers tied with gingham ribbon in galvanized metal pails.”

Afternoon Delights

“Instead of round, white plates, choose square, colored dishes. Arrange the place settings on crisp white linens and lay an orchid (snip off the stem) on the corner of each plate. For centerpieces, choose grasses or wildflower arrangements that are less manicured than those you would have for an evening event. Always remember to find out what your reception venue has on hand that you can use to decorate your buffet stations. A restaurant with a Moroccan flair, for example, may have beautiful tapestries that can be draped behind the food stations.”

Midday Music

“For a lunch reception, think background music more than dance music. Consider hiring a jazz ensemble, with or without a singer, or a live band with a saxophone soloist.”


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