The Two Most Important Things for Having an Awesome Wedding Reception

File this under: things no one tells you.

The programs. The favors. The food [sit down, buffet, heavy hors d’oeuvres?!] The seating chart. The decorations. The centerpieces. The table cloths. EV.ERY.THING that must be considered to have thee most perfect wedding.

Thanks a lot, Pinterest.

When you’re in the depths of wedding planning, every detail seems painstakingly crucial. Like, your first dance song and what kind of granola bar to put in the welcome bag for your guests at the hotel are on the same level of critical importance.

 first dance

I’m here to tell you to slow down, crazy. Slow down. 

While all the cutesy things are appreciated in the moment, no one will remember them. Sorry. Truth is, you might not even remember them.

Like, what did my centerpieces look like? I don’t really remember off the top of my head. What I do remember is crying over them because Cory and I couldn’t agree on anything. Or our bouquets, for example – I can only remember the colors.


But exactly what they looked like? Um, not really. But at the time, they were SO IMPORTANT. [insert eye roll here]

I think all us girls can agree that after you’ve had your own wedding, or if you’re lucky enough to attend some weddings while you’re wedding planning, you kind of become a wedding critic.

In a, hmm – I see what she did there, critic. [And sometimes a what the fuck did she do there? critic]

As a seasoned wedding critic, I’ve found that there are only two things that truly matter when it comes to hosting a fun, memorable wedding reception.

Music and Booze. 

Clearly, the venue, the food, the and fluff matter. Duh, of course they do – but not nearly as much as the music and the booze.


I’ve been to over-the-top weddings and backyard weddings and I’ve had equal amounts of fun, because both had great music and free liquor.

People like dancing. People like free drinks. People like dancing with free drinks. [I despise dancing, but at weddings, I’ll put that hate in the corner.]

At our wedding, we didn’t spend money on favors (seriously, because all I could find in the favor department was pure cheese) so we considered our open bar the “favor.” As much as everyone would have liked a wine glass with Cory & Colleen 8.6.11 engraved on the front, I think free liquor for 6 hours was more appreciated.

[One of my favorite photos from the reception. Everyone’s faces over Bruce’s dance moves gets me every time!]

I know in tons of wedding books and magazines they say to allocate 20% [or whatever] of your budget to flowers or stationary or something else that will die or be quickly thrown away. But go with me on this one – music and booze. That winning combination will create the best memories for years to come.

Oh, and skip the champagne toast. By that point, everyone already has a drink, so it [the champagne and the money] goes to waste. And that’s alcohol abuse if you ask me.


  1. says

    YE S YES YES!!! I felt the same way after my wedding – why did I stress about the stupid details. It’s so true that the only things that mattered in the end was the music and the booze! Too bad I didn’t realize it until a couple of months AFTER the wedding. Haha!

  2. says

    Spot on! I hated wedding planning so much. I could not have possibly cared less about the cake topper, the aisle runners, the centerpieces, etc. The only part I actually enjoyed planning was the church service and the cake – because cake tasting. But you’re absolutely right – I remember the weddings with free booze and great dancing. Best memories!

  3. says

    And the food. Everyone remembers a good meal! Or at least, so I hope. My wedding is just five weeks away and my top dollar has gone on food and band.
    We have a bar coming in although it will be buy-your-own drinks, which is generally the way it’s done over here in the UK. I seriously don’t know what state the groomsmen would get themselves into if they were given freedom in the bar!

  4. Katie (Barber) Poling says

    AMEN GIRL!! When planning my wedding, photography was my number one priority, and after that it was the guest experience (aka music, booze, and food). We also decided to forego a wedding favor in order to spend more in those areas. And I’m totally with you on the champagne toast. I, for one, am all about champagne. But when I found out it would cost us between $600-700 I knew it was silly. (Johnny and I still got a glass, as well as the people who gave the toasts.) Like you said, everyone has a drink at that point, and I would probably start drinking everyone’s untouched champagne and then that could get real ugly…

  5. says

    I have not had my own wedding but I 100% agree. All I care about as a guest is the open bar and the dancing. Although as a bride I’d also throw in my dress since those pictures last forever and I love bridal fashion (yes, freak).

  6. Elizabeth says

    Couldn’t agree more. All that matters is that everyone has a good time, and music and booze will definitely do that! I would also throw tasty food and cake in there too (tasty, not fancy and overpriced!). People still talk about how good our wedding cake was, and my cousin made it from scratch for us (part as a gift and part commissioned). I think girls just get caught up in the *I only get to plan ONE WEDDING* thing, and you try to do so many things and make sure it’s all “perfect”. I really don’t think you can tell too many girls these things upfront and actually have them listen. It’s all hindsight!

  7. Vanessa says

    Preach on!!! My husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage and we watched our video. Amazing how many little details I did
    not recall, but we remember having so much fun!

    One other thing: when a bride and groom are having fun, I think the whole wedding is fun. I have attended gorgeous weddings but if the bride is stressed or uptight it just changes the whole vibe.

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