Wedding Reception Ideas

wedding reception tables with hanging lights outdoors on grass

Planning a wedding reception is a big deal. There are a lot of moving parts that go into making sure the party goes off without a hitch. There’s decor to think about, entertainment, seating, food, and the overall guest experience.

And when it comes to today’s weddings (and 2022 weddings, for that matter), it’s really all about giving guests a great time. Because let’s face it – it’s been a tough couple of years. Many couples, maybe yourself included, have had to push back their weddings due to the pandemic, so once they finally get to actually celebrate, they’re going all in.

Couples want to enjoy every last minute of their wedding reception and immerse themselves in the moment. And they want to give their guests that opportunity as well.

Sound like something you’re interested in? If you’re reading this, we bet you are, and we’re here to give you some unique, creative, and fun reception ideas and inspiration.

Creative Seating Ideas

Seating charts, escort cards, or whatever you choose to call them, are the one wedding decoration you know your guests will lay eyes on. With that being said, it’s probably safe to say you’ll want your seating chart to be creative, fun, and organized.

There are a million and one ways to show guests to their seats – from simple name displays to more personal ideas. You could write names on glass panes, chalkboards, dish plates, or photographs. We’ve even spotted banana leaves being used as escort cards.

Or you could go the more personal route and think about something meaningful to you and your partner. For example, if you both have an affinity for geodes, you could write guests’ names on individual geode pieces.

Wedding Centerpieces

When it comes to wedding centerpieces, flowers are generally the main attraction. The beauty of working with flowers is that they delight so many of the senses. They’re gorgeous to look at and designers can create textural artistic pieces. They smell just as beautiful as they look. And although a floral centerpiece probably won’t be on the menu, edible flowers are a thing.

Your imagination is the only limit when thinking about what kinds of centerpieces to display at your wedding reception. Adorn tables with flickering tapered candles and overflowing blooms. Fill geometric vases with succulents and plants or colorful birdcages with flowers. Create texture with linens and alternate the height and shape of items for variety.


One of the biggest ways you can set the mood for your wedding reception is through lighting. There’s everything from simple tea lights and floating candles to crystal chandeliers and dramatic uplighting.

Some lighting trends we’ve seen come in the form of marquee carnival letters that spell out a word or the couple’s initials. You can also hang lights from the ceiling for a dramatic effect (lanterns, meteor shower lights, string bulbs, etc.) or string twinkle lights across a bare wall to really illuminate the setting.

Getting married outside? You can still brighten the night by hanging lights in the trees, whether in twinkle light or lantern form. And always remember how powerful a cluster of candles and a starry night sky can be!

Backdrops and Wall Decor

If you’re looking for unique ways to use flowers at weddings, look no further than the tried and true backdrop. The “trend” really took hold in 2015 and it’s been going strong ever since. At this point, we think it’s safe to say it’s becoming a classic look.

Floral backdrops can be used during the reception as wall decor for the sweetheart table or as a place for guests to take photos. The wall can be completely covered in real or faux flowers or only display an arch of blossoms and greenery. It could also be a mix of fabric, flowers, and lights. If you have an outdoor location consider photos under flowering trees as well since they make an excellent backdrop.

Alternative Guest Book Ideas

There’s nothing wrong with a traditional paper guest book, but there’s something about collecting sentiments in a unique way that really elevates a wedding reception. And gives you the best of memories!

Here’s the thing – a guest book can come in many forms. In fact, it doesn’t have to look like a book at all. Think digital recordings of your nearest and dearest bidding you their well wishes and fondest advice. Names scribbled on globes and bucket list items for the bride and groom.

Couples have displayed vintage typewriters where guests could type out their sentiments. Other couples put out postcards and records, old library book cards and maps, puzzle pieces, polaroids, wine corks, and stones.

Lounge Areas

Aside from the typical tables and chairs guests will sit at during dinner, consider setting up chic, but comfortable lounge areas where guests can nibble on snacks, drink, and mingle when they’re not dancing.

These could be cozy corners set up with comfy couches and coffee tables or elegant vintage chairs placed around tables. Put down rugs, place pillows, light candles. Basically, whatever suits your wedding theme and style!

And you could even have areas for the little ones stocked with activity books, crayons, fun props, and pillows. Just make sure there’s an adult to supervise.

Food and Drink

Instead of the usual sit-down reception dinner, why not treat your guests to something spectacular? Think interactive food stations, food trucks, mobile bars, and personal details.

First of all, think of things that hold meaning for you and your significant other. Where did you meet (cookies in the shape of your state)? Do you both have a sweet tooth for cotton candy (fresh-served cotton candy bar)? How do you feel about signature cocktails with signature ice cubes?

And that mobile bar we mentioned? We’re talking waiters wearing hoop skirts that held glasses of champagne. Now that’s not something anyone will forget!

As for non-alcoholic drinks, there are plenty of ways to wow guests with coffee and tea. Coffee stations, tea brewing bars, and hot chocolate areas are especially nice for winter weddings. You might even consider adding a s’mores set up for the kiddos and kids at heart. We also have some more wedding menu ideas if you want some more inspiration.


The reception decorations and food are incredibly important, but the entertainment and activities are really where it’s at. Because when you think about it, this is what your guests will likely remember above all else (besides your beautiful union, of course!).

Live bands and DJs are always a classic go-to for entertainment. After all, you can’t go wrong with a packed dance floor. But you can also look to wedding trends to help you find creative ideas for your reception activities and entertainment.

Some ideas we’ve come across:

  • Acrobat performers (stationary and moving)
  • Professional dancers
  • Fire eaters
  • Chalk art
  • Lawn games
  • Build-your-own wedding cake
  • Karaoke
  • Silent disco
  • Live painters
  • Palm or tarot reader
  • Petting zoo
  • Glitter bar

Again, this is where you can take your favorite ideas and fold in personal details to make your reception entertainment truly exceptional and unique.

Quality Time

It may seem funny that you have to think about spending quality time with your significant other during your wedding day. But it’s easy to get caught up in everything and everyone as the time flies right before your eyes.

That’s why it’s so important to schedule in some private time during your reception. In fact, some wedding planners are suggesting that their couples have a small meal together before the party starts. One because they probably haven’t eaten much all day, and two because it gives them an opportunity to sit down, take a breath, and just be with each other before they have to to be with everyone else the rest of the night.

Couples can also cap the night off by having a last dance. During this part of the reception, your guests would be instructed to line up outside for the exit while you and your partner stay on the dance floor. This gives you a chance to enjoy those last minutes of your wedding together without any distractions. So sweet!

Morning Reception

Who says that a reception has to take place in the evening? No one! If you really want to buck tradition and plan a unique wedding reception, consider forgoing the evening hours and move the whole thing to brunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) instead.

This is a particularly great idea for anyone who wants a more casual, intimate celebration, as daytime events are typically less formal. And you can serve all of your brunch favorites, from French toast to omelets. Don’t forget the bloody mary and mimosa bar!

As you can see, there are so many ways you can style a reception and give yourself and your guests a wow experience. From the wedding flowers to the decor to the entertainment, you can create a reception space that’s infused with personal details that delight the senses.

At The Bouqs Weddings, we have farm-fresh flowers that can elevate your wedding day, from the moment you’re getting ready to that last dance you have with your partner before you take your exit. We’re happy to help you find whatever styles and colors you’re looking for, so feel free to reach out and let us know!

Shop All

You Might Also Like