Wedding receptions run the gamut from small, intimate gatherings in a restaurant to large spectacles featuring hundreds of guests inside a banquet hall. At the heart of any wedding reception is the desire to present a memorable party for all in attendance. That being said, there are some steps couples can take to add extra indulgence to wedding receptions and really set them apart from the mundane.
With the average cost of weddings now teetering around $28,000, couples certainly are pulling out expensive stops to treat guests to a good party. Although some may argue that spending tens of thousands of dollars on a one-time event is preposterous, there are scores of couples who want to splurge on an event that (hopefully) will be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. With this in mind, many want to add special touches to the wedding that will show guests how much they are appreciated and to make their celebration different from previous weddings. Here are some ways to do just that.
• Butler-passed hors d’oeuvres: During the cocktail hour guests are mingling and taking advantage of the opportunity to engage in conversation. This may be the last real opportunity to chat amongst one another before the volume of the band or deejay drowns out discussions. Rather than disrupt the flow of conversation to make a trip to the food stations, choose butler-passed hors d’oeuvres to bring food right to the guests. It lends a feeling of indulgence and is also a convenient way to keep guests satiated.
• Valet parking: Most wedding venues provide on-site valet parking. However, if you’re using a restaurant or banquet hall that does not provide this service, you can hire a valet company to do the parking for guests. While you will be whisked to and fro in the back of a limousine, guests will have to do their own driving. Being able to exit the car right in front of the venue and not worry about finding a parking space will be convenient for guests.
• Emergency toiletries baskets: Rather than spending money on an extra floral arrangement for the men’s and women’s restrooms, purchase items that can be grouped into a handy basket. For women, include items such as extra pairs of stockings, spray deodorant, sanitary items, and sewing kits. For men, mints or mouthwash, dental floss, cologne, and stain removal pens may come in handy. In the event that a minor mishap occurs during the wedding, guests will have items at their disposal to remedy it.
• Specialty courses: In addition to the cocktail hour and the main meal, you may be able to arrange specialty stations for guests with particular palates or interests. Some couples like to have a cigar smoking area or you can offer specialty cocktails. When ethnic customs are included in a wedding, menu items can be geared around native dishes. Candy and dessert bars are also popular to have at weddings, particularly if children are invited. A flambe dessert presentation is both a spectacle and a treat.
• Overnight accommodations: For the wedding that will run into the wee hours of the morning, offer guests a place to stay nearby to remove the hassle of driving home at a late hour. Some reception halls have arrangements with nearby hotels. For those that don’t, negotiate a discounted rate for wedding guests. Many do and will set aside a block of rooms for your event with a discount code. You may want to treat guests who choose to stay over to a complementary breakfast the next day as one final show of appreciation.
• Special seating: Guests who may have mobility issues or difficulty hearing may appreciate being seated in certain spots for convenience. Seat the elderly or handicapped close to the exits and the restrooms if possible. When choosing a reception room, confirm the distance to the restrooms to make it convenient for those who may not be able to walk far. Those who may be sensitive to the music can be seated away from the speakers. And of course, every attempt should be made to seat individuals who may have conflicts with others away from one another.
• Birthday and anniversary mentions: You can notify the band or deejay of any guests in attendance who may be celebrating their own special events on your wedding day or in close proximity.
There are many extra touches you can take as a couple to make guests feel welcomed and important at your wedding.
Arranging overnight accommodations for guests, complete with complementary breakfast, is a welcome touch for those who don’t want to travel home once the wedding is over.