My TOP TEN wedding reception tips

Having performed over two hundred weddings, a few things strike me as good factors for success. Here are my top ten tips. Please comment and add your ideas.

  1. Get the ‘choreography’ right. By that I mean the flow of your event. Things should happen in a logical sequence so that you, and your guests, always know what is going on.
  2. Consider the momentum and energy of your reception. Don’t let any one thing drag on too long; you don’t want your guests to get bored, tired, impatient or drunk!
  3. The unspoken ‘rule’ of photographs. In my experience (of over 100 weddings), formal photos take longer than you planned for. Work out what formal pics you really want and give your photographer a list. Give a copy to me (if I’m your toastmaster) and give a copy to someone who knows your guests. I can shout for Aunt Mabel but it helps if someone knows what she looks like. You’ll need a process to collect people as and when they are needed.
  4. The Receiving Line dilemma. Receiving lines started in the days when the bridal party didn’t mix with the guests before the wedding breakfast as much as they do today. They take time, so think carefully if you want people waiting in line. If each couple / family group takes a minute to pass through and chat to the bridal party – well, you do the maths. If you have one, get a good person (your toastmaster) to manage it and to keep people moving.
  5. Have food before speeches. That’s my advice. You can have your wedding speeches whenever you like, of course, but folks will be hungry, so I recommend you at least let them have the first course; your guests will enjoy the speeches better if they’ve had something to eat beforehand.  The obvious place to have speeches is after the main course has been cleared away.
  6. ‘The speeches will be brief’. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that I’d be a rich man. Speeches are always longer than you planned them to be – at least in my experience. Keep them succinct. There’s nothing wrong with lengthy speeches as long as they are appropriate. 
  7. Think ‘toasts’ and not ‘speeches’. Every speech has a purpose. Replace the word ‘speech’ in your mind with the word ‘toast’. You are not making a speech in the conventional sense, you are proposing a toast – and saying a few relevant words beforehand. Here’s a link that’ll give you some detailed advice:
  8. Think of cake cutting as a ceremony. I recommend you have your cake cutting ceremony as part of your wedding breakfast – possibly at the end of it. Cutting a cake isn’t just to get food; it’s a memorable event (at least the way I do it). Your guests will want to see it so have it as part of your meal. Once people have dispersed, it can take time to reassemble them – and you won’t get them all.
  9. Some guests will leave at the end of your wedding breakfast. They might have a long journey, they could be tired or they could be a bit older than you! Not everyone will stay for your evening revels. Plan your wedding breakfast to include everything you want them to see (choreography and momentum again!)
  10. The First Dance. This usually signifies the start of your party and is the sign that everyone can now start dancing. Some couples have a second dance with Mums and Dads.

If you want some practical help with wedding planning or speech writing, please visit

Please share your ideas and get in touch if you have any question.

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