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Planning The Perfect Wedding Day Drinks Reception

How to Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Drinks Reception. Our friends discuss some fantastic ideas for putting together a Drinks Reception to remember!

Listen to Joey, Chrys and Steve on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


The amazing people that made this possible…

Joey Burdon from Warble Entertainment

Chrys Chapman Make Up Artist

Steve Game-blackmoor from Holding Dear


James: [00:00:00]

Okay so our hot topic this week is “planning the perfect drinks reception”. Which to my mind is a really, really big and exciting topic.

Now I was thinking back to our wedding and I was just kind of running my mind through the events recently of what happened during our drinks reception. Now when we were filming weddings our advice, which we were constantly, constantly thanked for, was the perfect drinks reception has a running time of about two hours. And the photographs should really take no longer than about half an hour. So that’s all your set ups. Which is why we always recommended that you came to the photographer with a fixed list of photographs and said these are the photographs that we like, and do not deviate from that list. Because what happens often is the bride and groom will start saying “well can we have this group” and “can we have that group”… And suddenly it takes 10 minutes to draft the other people in, and suddenly the drinks reception… Oh it’s gone. And it’s such a shame, because as Steve will explain to you later no doubt, that after the ceremony, after a successful ceremony, the vibe, the buzz coming out of that room is enormous, and you want to spend as much time with your friends and family as you possibly can and enjoy that buzz. 

James: [00:01:11] So for our Drinks Reception, it was sort of textbook. It went by in a flash. But I know that our photographs took 20 minutes. So they didn’t take half an hour, we got through them faster. And as is normally expected from these kinds of things there were loads of family members who wanted to grab us for a quick photo and things. I distinctly remember all the people who came up to give us a hug and to say what a beautiful ceremony, and all that stuff. But we were able to enjoy it I think because we stuck to that kind of plan. 

James: [00:01:43]

And the other two pieces of advice we used to give people were seriously, seriously, seriously you need to have canapés.

Because so many people think, well you know, it’s a massive expense, and they ARE expensive. It’s a huge expense, and it’s something maybe we can live without. But the truth is you can’t live without them. As the guests are usually, by that time, absolutely starving. You know if you get married at 12:00 or 1:00 o’clock, you’ve missed lunch. Straight into a two hour Drinks Reception, you’re at three, four o’clock, five o’clock before your sit down meal. If you then choose to have your speeches before the meal, you’re absolutely doomed. So the idea basically is canapés, got to have them. Cos they keep people going. 

James: [00:02:24]

And the last one was entertainment. It is absolutely essential. I think guests need some form of distraction because there’s a lot of sort of icebreaking going on.

They need something to just kind of focus on. A focal point. And the way we did it actually, we saved a little bit of money by taking our band we booked for the evening, and we basically unplugged them. They did an acoustic set during the drinks. And you know what, people went crazy for it. So Joey no doubt can tell you all about that stuff, but it really, really is a good idea. So that’s all from me guys. But I shall throw it open to you. What are your thoughts? 

Steve: [00:03:04]

Well the big thing at the moment is Gin and cocktails isn’t it? Gin and cocktails.

Yeah what would really float my boat if I was planning my own wedding, would be a James Bond cocktail party. So a themed cocktail party. Tuxedos and sparkling long dinner dresses and lots of champagne. Of course we have to the shaken not stirred Vodka martinis. That would be right up my street. 

James: [00:03:34] Sounds amazing! 

Steve: [00:03:44] What do other people think? 

Chrys: [00:03:50]

So I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Yorkshire bartender recently, and they have always suggested a signature cocktail, which is something that I didn’t do for my Wedding. And if I could rewind time, I think I would.

It’s one of those elements that you can put your personal touch on and try and get the personality of the wedding coming out. But another thing that I quite like to do with some of my brides is we setup a beauty bar. So after I’ve done bridal makeup, I pack up my kit and then I re-setup, but in the venue. And I can refresh the ladies makeup, so once you’re getting all those photos going, and obviously you’ve had a little cry during the ceremony and everyone just needs that little bit of touch up. It’s a really nice addition to the wedding day to just be able to come and get your lipstick topped up. Your powder done. That’s a really nice one and it keeps everything flowing and moving but still really keeps your photographs looking good too. 

James: [00:04:40]

Is the all day make up Chrys, is that a myth? 

Chrys: [00:04:45] It’s not a myth. It is definitely doable. But like anything, if you’ve had a bit of a cry, sometimes you need a top up.. All day make up is not a myth, but you have to know your applications. So my brides will be fine, but the wedding party might not be. They might just need a little something to keep everything in place. 

James: [00:05:08] Right because I suppose mother of the bride, she really is just as important. They’ve got to look good! 

Chrys: [00:05:14] Absolutely, yes you know it’s her day too. 

James: [00:05:17] Completely. Awesome, Joey any thoughts? 

Joey: [00:05:23]

Yeah I think James, we should get you talking to some of our brides and grooms at some point because the fact that you realise how important it is to have entertainment is massive.

And it’s something that we struggle with quite a lot because what Brides and Grooms will do is think about their entertainment costs, and they’ll allocate most of their budget to a band or a DJ at the end of the night. And they will often think oh well, I can kind of skip out on the Drinks Reception and whatnot. But what you said and what you’ve done is an absolutely awesome solution, and it’s something we offer all the time. Is that all bands, DJ’s or for any Wedding supplier, often the hardest bit is the travelling, the setting up and all the logistics, instead of the playing. So instead of paying two different groups of people to travel to your venue and do something, why not ask your band to stay longer. Or something that we often say is if you have somebody playing during the ceremony, if you have a harpist or a classical guitarist, something like that, ask them to hang on afterwards, let them kind of serenade your guests whilst you’re off taking photos and whatnot. It’s a really cost effective way, and a lot of the time people don’t want to spend money on entertainment for the Drinks Reception because they think it’s a wasted expense. But you don’t have to spend much, and you already have people there that are going to travel on your day, so ask them to stay a little bit longer on the day. 

James: [00:06:52] We actually…

Music formed a very large part of our wedding day. And a lot of planning went into the music.

We’d actually seen it at a wedding a few years ago where the bride and groom had used musical cues to drive people, like to announce certain parts of the day. So Rachel and I, I think this is sort of a bit for you really Steve. Rachel and I decided that we were going to do our utmost, so basically the ceremony had to have a crescendo, it had to end in a bang and people had to know that the next part of our day was a party. We were there to have a good time. So Rachel and I picked a completely off hand track. It was basically a Japanese hip hop track and it was called “The Concept Of Love” and we just press play on it. We asked the guys to, you know, crank this up. We want this loud. So “The Concept Of Love” kicked off and Rachel and I basically danced down the aisle, out of the room, and then everybody sort of followed us Pied Piper style. And then the music was obviously playing in the other room. So there was a very smooth transition from, we are celebrating, this is the ceremony… Now this is the party. That was a very, very clear indication. So do you think you’ve got any other sort of similar ideas or tips that maybe, you know, you could use to say this is the end of the ceremony, now we’re into the party? 

Steve: [00:08:16]

Well if the Ceremony is structured in a way where it kind of builds up towards that time of celebration and partying afterwards.

You can use music like you’ve suggested, which is a fantastic idea, and I think if the whole thing is structured in a way where it moves in that direction quite naturally, then people are ready for the big party by the end of the Ceremony. I mean the Ceremony’s not a separate thing is it really? The ceremony and celebration and the party’s part of that celebration. So it’s all one and the same. 

James: [00:08:59] Of course! So I know you’re very into your music Steve. So if somebody came to you and said, you know, “we’ve got these crazy ideas”, “this is sort of our music, this is what we like”. Do you think you’ve got anything that you might be able to sort of add to that? Can you embellish that with people? Make some suggestions? 

Steve: [00:09:15]

Music plays a very big part in ceremonies, and it’s down to personal tastes isn’t it, at the end of the day?

And there is always a piece of music that marries up with their personal tastes that will speak of their hopes and dreams and their love for each other, and will always seem to point them in the right direction. But music features… Music features a lot doesn’t it? In things like this. It’s one of the questions I shall be asking Joey later on actually, in relation to music and ceremony. But I’ll leave that for later. Is that OK Joey? 

Joey: [00:09:55] Yeah! Don’t give all your secrets away yet Steve, you can hang on if you’ve got something in the barrel, that’s totally cool. 

James: [00:10:03] And Joey, I suppose…. throughout my very long winded career in the wedding industry, I’ve seen all sorts of things for drinks reception entertainment. And you know, how easy is it to get people to explore alternative options? Because I saw… I’m going to throw something in now, I mean we coined a phrase for it at the time, it was “trip hop violin”. So basically it was kind of like drum and bass, but with an electric violin played over the top, and it just blew my mind because it was so fresh and exciting. So how easy is it to get people to kind of embrace something different, rather than just booking maybe the traditional string quartet or something? 

Joey: [00:10:44] Yeah, of course.

I mean if there was ever a time to experiment and not be safe, it’s the Drinks Reception.

I think, because it’s this huge chasm in the day that people just don’t really know what to do with, and we often describe it as, you know, a natural kind of lull in the day. But once you have explained to people what the possibilities are, it becomes a bit easier and what you’ll find is they’ll soon realise that those things that they thought were natural lulls in the day, now become the highlights of the day. So for example if you are to book a magician or something, if they’re kind of going around and wowing the crowd. For some people if they see a trick which has completely blown their minds or they get given a signed card by the magician or something, that’s the bit they’re going to remember from your wedding. And often at times it can feel a bit self indulgent to think that OK, the bit that everyone is going to remember is when we had our first dance, when we were cutting the cake, or the ceremony. But all the guests, they have a different experience of your wedding than you do. So it’s all about being a little bit selfless and kind of looking after them, but also yeah, you’re right in saying that the alternative options and the weird options, often they are placed in this bit. Which is really cool. 

James: [00:12:08] I like it!

And Chrys, Rachel had lovely, lovely hair for our wedding and we really liked her make up too. It was very, very difficult to find a good makeup artist in the Highlands. Because there aren’t that many to go at.

So we had to drive quite far to find one that would actually be mobile and come out and see us on the day. So we found one, Rachel was happy, it was all good. But you know, Rachael I think looking back, would be very honest about the fact that her hair kind of started out very, very nice and basically went rock and roll. By the end of the day it was all over the place and her make up kind of survived, but it wasn’t… it wasn’t tip top. I think we got through it. It wasn’t tip top. She could have done with somebody there just to refresh. So to put people’s minds at ease, how quick a job is that? Is that a big thing? I mean during the Drinks Reception you’re trying to get your photos done, trying to talk to family, a lot of hustle and bustle, limited time. How easy is it? How quick is it? 

Chrys: [00:13:08] Yeah well I think it’s one of those issues that’s very similar to that sort of false economy of not having entertainment during the drinks reception isn’t it? Where, you know, you’re just trying to save your costs and all of those things. But actually very similar to getting a band, or a musician, onsite or a magician, or any of those things, it’s the travel and it’s the time that will really dictate cost. So for someone like me to stick around and be able to touch up at the end of the Ceremony or during the Drinks Reception. That part, not so substantial. And in terms of time, it doesn’t take that long. And actually this is a secret, to have that little bit of time, so it could be 15 minutes tops. To just be able to sneak away from the crowds and from the fanfare of your day and take a deep breath and let somebody just look after you just for a few minutes, and you can catch your breath, and actually enjoy that moment. That can be quite magical for people. That they just have that chance to sort of assess the situation and go “oh my gosh” what an amazing day I’m having. And that can actually be the favourite part of the day for some people, where they just have that moment to sit back and look at the situation and go, this is incredible. So yeah, it doesn’t take long and it can be really good. 

James: [00:14:22] So a calm in the storm! 

Chrys: [00:14:24] Absolutely! 

James: [00:14:26] Brilliant!

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  • Reply
    Steven Game-Blackmoor
    October 25, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    A fascinating discussion about the drinks party after the ceremony…

    • Reply
      James Pearson
      October 25, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks Steve, I’m still buzzing about your idea there!!! 🙂

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