Article by Pam Black, owner of Celebration House. First appeared in Die Beeld/Die Burger newspaper.
The seating plan
Planning the table seating for a wedding can seem like a nightmare – but it is important to take time and care with it, remembering that your guests (who could be together for several hours), would welcome being seated with compatible people. More mature guests who are unlikely to dance, would also appreciate being seated in a quieter area further away from the dance floor
It is vital to double-check your seating plan, to ensure that no one has been left out. It is extremely embarrassing for a guest not to find their name listed at any table. If someone at the venue offers to type your list for you, ask to see it in advance, so that you have time to check it.
Meeting and greeting your guests
Couples sometimes forget that they and their families will be off having photographs taken after the ceremony and that there will be no one on hand to welcome their guests when they arrive at the reception venue. Family members and close friends are always keen to help at weddings, so consider asking one (or two) of them to arrive at the reception ahead of the guests, to welcome them on your behalf.
If you are offering drinks on arrival, the same person could inform the guests of this fact and also show them where to leave their presents.
As guests are also often unsure of where to leave their wedding gifts (and let’s face it, when you have spent a small fortune on a wedding present, you might be forgiven for not wanting to leave it on an unmanned table – even more so if it is in the form of a gift voucher or cash!) the person welcoming the guests should also be given the task of watching over your gifts. As guests often don’t attach cards securely to their gifts, a good tip is to arm this person with a roll of sellotape, This will help to avoid the scenario of the couple opening their presents later and not knowing who has given them a beautiful toaster (or whatever), because the card has fallen off en route!
Order of events
One aspect of the wedding that tends to sometimes be forgotten about until the last minute is the order of events at the reception.
The traditional order of events is as follows:
- On arrival at the venue, guests are offered a pre-dinner drink. They (and the rest of the bridal party) are then seated prior to the entrance of the bride and groom. The Master of Ceremonies will ask everyone to stand to welcome the newly married pair as they make their way to their table. The DJ (or band) will play a suitable piece of music (remember to discuss the choice with your music provider in advance).
- The MC then welcomes everyone and, if grace is being said, he will call upon the appointed person to do so. The first course will then be served. The speeches are usually given after the first course but can also be made after the main course. You will find the order of speeches on our website www.pamblackweddings.com
- After the main course, the couple will take to the floor for their first dance. Tell the DJ what song you would like played well ahead of the event – don’t assume that because it is a popular tune, he will automatically have it to hand.) Traditionally, the bridal couple are then joined on the floor by their parents and the bridesmaids and best men.
- After dessert (unless the cake is doubling as dessert), the couple will cut their wedding cake. The garter and bouquet are tossed shortly before the couple leave the reception for their honeymoon.
If you would like certain guests to be given the table flowers, ask the Master of Ceremonies to inform everyone of this arrangement, so that some guests don’t assume that they can just walk off with the flowers after the reception.
If you are not having a cash bar, ask the barman for a price list of the drinks they serve, as you are well within your rights to tell him which drinks may be served and which you would like restricted. (Unfortunately, wedding guests have been known to take advantage of the opportunity of free drinks by ordering liqueurs and imported drinks they wouldn’t normally imbibe.) By the way, do be aware that the cost of those energy drinks that everyone likes so much can mount up very quickly!