Planning a great wedding reception can take a massive amount of time and effort. It's a little ridiculous, actually. There are major decisions to be made, like what DJ to have, what you want the cake to look like and what will be on the menu.
Then there are the small things. These can be easy to forget about, but they'll have a pretty large effect on your big day. Here are a few things I’ve seen go wrong that you can easily avoid:
1. Listen to the lyrics of your songs.
This seems obvious, but I was at a wedding where the first song was Taylor Swift’s “You Should’ve Said No.” I tried not to laugh, as I thought about the message of the song.
My guess is that the couple said, “We like country music,” and the DJ picked the most popular song of the time. Bad choice.
There are other typical “never play this at a wedding” songs, like “Shot Through the Heart” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” but others can be surprising. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is commonly played, but when you listen to the lyrics you’ll see that the song is obviously about divorce.
2. Know your crowd.
Speaking of music, instead of picking all your favorite songs, try to pick music your guests would enjoy.
Chances are you’ll have quite a few older folks in attendance, like parents, aunts/uncles and grandparents — throw in some classics and oldies, so they can enjoy themselves, too. Plus, it’s hilarious to watch them go crazy to “Sweet Caroline.” You’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head, by the way.
And if you listen to a lot of music that most people don’t know, don’t play it. You're not going to impress anyone with your hip choices if they don't know them. I learned this the hard way. My wife and I loved the song “Kids” by MGMT, so we thought it would be great to kick off the dancing.
Wrong. There were maybe three or four others in the room who had even heard the song before, so no one came running out to join us on the dance floor like we expected. We awkwardly danced by ourselves through the longest four and a half minutes I can remember. It still makes me cringe.
3. Don’t do the mother-son dance.
When’s the last time you thought, “You know, I really want to slow dance with my mom while everyone watches me”? Hopefully you’ve never thought that, unless you have a serious Oedipus complex. Yet, this is still a common part of a wedding reception. Just stop. It’s awkward for everyone.
4. Don’t have the garter toss.
When you have the garter toss, you might as well say, “All losers who don’t have a girlfriend, please gather in the center of the room so we can make fun of you!”
It’s humiliating to wander out there, while all the guys who earlier pulled up in their new Mustangs with trophy wives laugh at you diving for the bride’s undergarment. The garter also symbolizes her deflowering — in medieval times, men would rip the bride’s clothes to shreds. Great tradition, huh?
5. Give them something to do during the wait.
The most annoying time of any wedding is the long wait between the ceremony and the reception. The bride and groom are off getting 10,000 pictures -- with at least 100 of them having their entire wedding party jump in the air at the same time -- and the rest of the crowd gets to sit around waiting for the food. Sometimes this can take hours.
We created a trivia game for people to play during the wait. You can also have a slideshow, show home movies or have picture books for people to thumb through. If you get really creative, set up a video game station or picture booth.
These five things are so easy to do; yet, they’re constantly missed. Spend a little extra time picking your music, throw out some of the awkward traditions and give your guests something to do during the wait. Your guests might not realize why your reception was so great in the moment, but they’ll thank you for it later.
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