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Seven Ways To Jumpstart Your Wedding Reception
By: Michael Kabel

After the biggest event of your life, it's time to party! The reception is the time to celebrate and bask in the adulation and well wishes of all your guests. And the reception is the "thank you" you show your guests for coming to participate in your happiest of times.

There's a formula to the reception that you're probably already familiar with: cocktails, eat, dance, dessert, maybe more dancing and then everything just sort of winds down. The truth is, the modern reception has a lot more than just the old traditions to offer guests of all ages. The following seven suggestions are by no means a complete list, but they're sure to raise the "party level" at any kind of reception.

1. Make a grand entrance.

They've never seen you walk into a room as married woman before, so why not make a grand entrance? The introduction of the new couple is already a popular tradition in many parts of the country, and it's picking up stylish steam all over the world.

Coordinate with your DJ the music you want played (like the 20th Century Fox fanfare, or your favorite ballad) and rehearse the entrance with your fiancé. The occasion is definitely worth a little rehearsal.

2. Let your guests call the tune.

In this age of email, social networking web sites and blogs, everyone can stay in touch with everyone else all the time. You can send out a mass email inviting everyone to request songs for the DJ to play at the reception. When it comes time to dance, he can even "shout out" to the requesters as their song is played.

3. Make a room for the little ones.

Your venue might have a separate space you can use as a kind of nursery or day care, where the children of your guests can have fun while the adults enjoy themselves. You can even set up a kid's buffet of chicken tenders, French fries and fruit juice for them to eat and snack from. Just make sure to have trustworthy adult supervision with them at all times.

4. Change outfits for the reception.

You'll surprise your guests by changing clothes for the reception. Free yourself from all that ceremonial finery and just wear a sleek business suit to the party. You'll look great and they'll appreciate your freedom to move around mingling with guests as you please.

5. A more sophisticated cocktail service.

Almost everybody loves an open bar at a reception. But instead of serving the standard kinds of liquor, ramp up the sophistication by offering guests a gourmet concoction of a certain kind of wine or spirit. For example, vintage style weddings might have a martini bar with many different kinds of martini available. A winter wedding could serve hot toddies served with a fine, smoky bourbon.

6. A really less sophisticated dessert course.

Dessert is supposed to be nothing but fun! Instead of a standard dessert course, offer your guests an ice cream or cake bar with all the fixings. They can help themselves to whatever they like, even going back for seconds or thirds. And the people who want to skip right to the dancing can do that, too.

7. Go green and help the planet.

Eco weddings are the hottest bridal trend of recent years, and wedding receptions present a goldmine of ways to practice good conservation sense. There are lots of ways to recycle and save, including:
- using the same flowers for the wedding rehearsal dinner and reception;
- buying only flowers that are grown locally;
- giving untouched leftovers to local shelters and food banks;
- keeping the ceremony and reception venues within walking distance of one another;
- using glass vases for the flower arrangements and taking them back to the florist.

See our special series of articles on Eco-weddings for more tips and information.