What makes a great wedding reception

What Makes A Great Wedding Reception

One of the things I often say to clients at the end of the night is, “I wish I got invited to the sort of parties/weddings that I perform at”.  I have been to over two thousand weddings as a wedding singer and musician, but last Sunday night I had the the pleasure to attend a wedding as a guest. This was my chance to see things from the other side.

From my years of experience, I know that there are three key elements that make a great wedding reception or party.

  1. Good food
  2. Plenty to drink
  3. Great entertainment

So… how did these three elements fare up?


I’m not going to mention the restaurant because the food was a let down. It was served in a Tapas style. The two words that come to mind are “pretentious” and “unremarkable”. Small portions of food were brought out and then had to be shared by four people. You ate two mouthfulls and then had to wait twenty minutes for the next plate to arrive. I was glad that I’d had a big lunch! Some of the dishes were great while some were quite ordinary. Everything was oily. Some dishes were greasy. I would have been much happier with an actual meal, but it seems that the bride and groom thought this sort of thing was much “cooler”.


I’m not a particularly big drinker, but the service of beverages seemed adequate. The guests were a conservative group, so it wasn’t a big drinking crowd. It was all quite sedate.


The bride and groom have a bit of a passion for the style of the 1950’s, so they hired a fifties rock and roll band. They had a name, but it wasn’t very memorable. I can’t remember what they are called.

The shock for me was how little the band played. Last weekend my band played at a 40th birthday party and we ended up playing 6 X 45 minute sets. This sort of endurance is a normal thing for us. In contrast, these guys did only two sets. They played for 45 minutes, took a 25 minute break and then played a 35 minute set. The reception started at 5pm, but the band didn’t play anything until 8:15 pm. They just sat around for three and a quarter hours.

The band were actually good at what they did, but… they could only do one thing, i.e. 50’s rock and roll. How many Chuck Berry songs can you listen to before everything starts to sound the same.

Regardless of everything sounding the same, the guests responded well and danced for most of the short time that the band played. Nothing beats a quality live band for creating a great atmosphere.


This wedding was pretty good, but didn’t meet my expectations to place it in the “great” category.

Feed your guests a decent meal and make sure they don’t sit there hungry. That’s the most basic requirement.

If you go to the trouble of booking a band, try to get them to play more than an hour and twenty minutes at a five hour reception.

What makes a great wedding reception


1 thought on “What makes a great wedding reception”

  1. I am a wedding bartender and I also have been to around 500 wedding receptions. I agree with everything you said. First thing is food. If you don’t have a good meal the guests will not be happy. After the supper I always like to get feed back from the guest as to how the meal was so I can recommend the caterer for the next party. I have seen too many bands play 2 hours out of a 6 hour wedding reception. If I am paying a band to play I expect them to play for atleast 4 hours of the night. Last is where I come in. If people have to wait more than a couple of minutes for a drink they get upset. I never have guests wait more than 5 minutes for me to make them a drink. I work parties of up to 400 people and I have a great time with all the people there.

    After supper it is my job and the bands job to keep the people entertained.

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