Reception Etiquette for the Bride and Groom (and Bridal Party!)

Wedding cake against a rustic background with large light up sign that says Love

The wedding reception is a party that brings everyone together to celebrate the happy couple as they begin their new life together. It’s often a time filled with dancing, drinking, and debauchery. It’s also a time many couples get stuck doing wedding duties like taking extra photos and greeting every guest instead of enjoying their night. Brides and grooms can follow some simple etiquette guidelines to ensure they have fun and have the night of their life. The wedding party can also follow some etiquette steps to ensure they don’t make the night about their wild behavior, but all about the bride and groom.

Don’t Spend All Night Thanking Guests

You can make guests feel appreciated without overextending yourself. If you spend all night chatting with every single table and/or every single person, you will spend your entire wedding night socializing with guests instead of enjoying your new spouse. You can make the rounds to the tables if you keep the conversation simple, say your thank yous, give a hug and move on to the next table. Don’t be surprised if while you are walking around guests pull you by the arm for a hug and a hello. It’s fine, but keep it quick. You can also do a receiving line where you can thank each guest as they move through the line. Some couples even do this while guests are waiting in line for food since they are already lined up so you kill two birds with one stone.

Bride and groom cutting into wedding cake at reception

Take Time To Eat

It’s perfectly okay for the bride and groom to take a few minutes to eat. You probably are exhausted after a crazy day and didn’t eat much. It’s important to get a few bites so you can have energy and aren’t “hangry” for your big night. Serve yourself first and sit down together even if it’s just for a few minutes. No one is going to get mad at you for stepping away from the spotlight to have some food. Make sure you get an entire piece of your cake as well. You paid for that tasty dessert everyone is drooling over so make sure you get the first piece and enjoy every bite.

Don’t Give Long Toasts

Whether it’s from the bride and groom or the wedding party, no one really wants to hear a long and emotional toast. Many guests probably don’t even know the Maid of Honor and Best Man giving the speeches. Keep the toasts short and sweet. They can be emotional and special without rambling on for a few minutes. People get bored and just want to get back to dancing. The bride and groom often say a few words to the crowd which is no big deal, but keep the speech meaningful without going overboard. You don’t have to thank every single person in the room for coming on the microphone.

Wedding couple drinking too much at reception

Know Your Limits

Many couples may offer an open bar. This doesn’t mean you get to get crazy falling down drunk. The wedding party needs to keep their head on their shoulders drink in moderation. You know your limits so try to stay within them. For the bride and groom, nerves are high so it’s a great idea to have a drink to shake them off and get ready to hit the dance floor. Just know one or two drinks should do the trick and stop before the stories of the wedding revolve around the debauchery.

Decorations and Centerpieces

The decorations are usually purchased or provided by the bride and groom so it’s up to you what happens to them. Many couples give away the centerpieces to guests or the wedding party. Sometimes they give the floral arrangements to members of the family. You can keep any and all you want. As for the wedding party, don’t take anything unless you ask. The centerpieces or other decorations may actually be the venue’s or rented from somewhere else.

Bride dancing outside with little girl

Don’t Turn Down A Dance

You probably don’t want to dance with every guest in attendance, but remember never to be rude and turn someone down. If the groom’s weird uncle wants to two-step with you, give them a chance and have a little fun. Everyone is there to have a good time so let anyone who wants enjoy some of that dancing time with you. Keep it short if you want by having a polite excuse to pull you away when you’ve finished your dance.

No Dirty Dancing

Even though you don’t turn down a dance, never dirty dance at a wedding. Keep it clean as there are usually young eyes among the guests. The bride and groom can keep their hands off one another for just a few more hours until the wedding is over if they want to bump and grind on the dance floor. Wedding guests, remember to tone it down and be respectful to the bride and groom with your dance moves. You can’t get too crazy to traditional wedding songs like “The Chicken Dance” and “YMCA” so keep the song list at a fun, friendly level.

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