Reception Ideas

Need some entertainment ideas (last minute!) and a few other random questions

Mother of the bride here. The wedding is in a few weeks and will be held at my daughter and her fiance's Catholic church. It is a morning wedding, followed by a brunch reception at a local resort on the ocean. The reception is outdoors on a large patio overlooking the water, but we did have to spring for a tent in case of bad weather. (Holy crow, that was expensive! But at this point, it all seems like monopoly money.)

The couple chose a fiddler and Celtic harpist for their music. They don't like to dance (no first dance or any scripted dances), but the music will be danceable, and the bride's little cousin will be doing Irish step dancing. She is good, so it will be briefly entertaining. For other entertainment, the planner suggested lawn games, such as corn hole, hula hoops (lots of kids there) and jenga on a couple of tables. Can you think of anything else we should do? I want the guests to have fun.

And now for the random questions. Sorry if this is not the right place! How do I clean the car so that my daughter's dress doesn't get stained on the way to the wedding?.  Can I just wipe down the interior, vacuum, etc., then lay a sheet down? This is a low-key couple and they don't plan on hiring a limo, so it's just our car taking the bride to the venue from the getting ready room at the hotel, and then I guess they'll take the groom's car back to the reception.

The planner also suggested getting those little florist beads to strew artfully across the tables to complement the flowers. We will have 13 tables of 10 people, some long, some round. How many pounds of those little suckers do I need to order? Any idea on how much territory a pound bag covers?

Finally, how do you accommodate people who don't RSVP but show up anyway? There are a handful of flakes among our invitees. It's a brunch buffet, no assigned seating, but I do want a chair for every bottom and adequate food. I can't imagine having more than 3-5 extras do this, but I want to be prepared.

Oh, wait, there's more: we still haven't nailed down a rehearsal dinner. Is pizza and beer okay after the rehearsal? It will be early, since the bride has a 6:45 hair and make-up appointment.


Re: Need some entertainment ideas (last minute!) and a few other random questions

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
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    1. We advise limiting spotlight dances so that the guests aren't expected to spend extensive amounts of times watching but not participating in dances. If the Irish step dancing is a performance that your guests are supposed to watch but not participate in themselves, then I would drop it.

    I don't think you need other activities, as long as you have plenty of good food and non-alcoholic drinks and conversation, but I don't see why you couldn't have more party-type board games if that's something your guests would enjoy.

    2. I myself would probably cover your car seats with plastic if this is a real concern. You might also ask a bridal shop employee, dressmaker, dry cleaner or someone else with experience caring for formal attire for suggestions.

    3. I wouldn't get any florist beads. 

    4. I would assume everyone who doesn't RSVP might show up anyway and plan accordingly, or be prepared to tell flaky guests who come without RSVPing that you can't accommodate them. The first is, of course, more gracious, so I'd find out from your vendors if they can operate on a consumption basis.
    short+sassyahoywedding
  • Thank you! The only "performance" is my niece doing a short dance. It's not something people have to watch. She'll just do it at the beginning, so that people know it's okay to dance, since the bride and groom aren't doing a first dance. (Is that what a spotlight dance is?) After that, and even during her dance, it'll be a free for all.

    We're also limiting toasts to keep the boring bits to a minimum. As the hosts, my husband and I will welcome the guests and thank them, and then the MOH and BM will do their toasts. The couple didn't want an open mike situation. It's unlikely anyone will get hammered at a brunch reception, but it's best to avoid the possibility.

    Why plastic vs a white sheet for the car? It seems like that might be sticky,and no one will see it anyway. My car is clean, but that dress is so light (ivory lace) that anything on it will show.

    Why no florist beads? The couple and I like the idea. I just want to know how many to get. Is it a cliche to have them? This is my first child to get married (and only daughter), so I have not been following wedding trends. I'm not a Pinterest girl at all, and my daughter has done most of the planning. We just pay the bills, LOL!

    I think we will err on the side of generosity regarding the flaky no response guests, and pay for them so that there will be enough. I hate waste, but being ungracious seems the greater sin to me!

    And I forgot one question: The planner said we should have a gifts table with a tray on it to receive gifts that people may bring to the actual reception. This seems awkward and tacky to me. Is it necessary? Do people actually bring gifts to the wedding rather than having them shipped?  In the culture in which I was raised, people sent or brought them to the bride's house.
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Mother of the bride here. The wedding is in a few weeks and will be held at my daughter and her fiance's Catholic church. It is a morning wedding, followed by a brunch reception at a local resort on the ocean. The reception is outdoors on a large patio overlooking the water, but we did have to spring for a tent in case of bad weather. (Holy crow, that was expensive! But at this point, it all seems like monopoly money.)

    The couple chose a fiddler and Celtic harpist for their music. They don't like to dance (no first dance or any scripted dances), but the music will be danceable, and the bride's little cousin will be doing Irish step dancing. She is good, so it will be briefly entertaining. For other entertainment, the planner suggested lawn games, such as corn hole, hula hoops (lots of kids there) and jenga on a couple of tables. Can you think of anything else we should do? I want the guests to have fun.

    And now for the random questions. Sorry if this is not the right place! How do I clean the car so that my daughter's dress doesn't get stained on the way to the wedding?.  Can I just wipe down the interior, vacuum, etc., then lay a sheet down? This is a low-key couple and they don't plan on hiring a limo, so it's just our car taking the bride to the venue from the getting ready room at the hotel, and then I guess they'll take the groom's car back to the reception.

    The planner also suggested getting those little florist beads to strew artfully across the tables to complement the flowers. We will have 13 tables of 10 people, some long, some round. How many pounds of those little suckers do I need to order? Any idea on how much territory a pound bag covers?

    Finally, how do you accommodate people who don't RSVP but show up anyway? There are a handful of flakes among our invitees. It's a brunch buffet, no assigned seating, but I do want a chair for every bottom and adequate food. I can't imagine having more than 3-5 extras do this, but I want to be prepared.

    Oh, wait, there's more: we still haven't nailed down a rehearsal dinner. Is pizza and beer okay after the rehearsal? It will be early, since the bride has a 6:45 hair and make-up appointment.


    Hello!  I have been an MOB and MOG.  

    I LOVE that you are hosting a brunch following the morning Mass.  I cannot tell you how many brides claim it is impossible to host a Catholic wedding without creating a gap for their guests!

    For the car, we purchased an inexpensive plastic drop cloth to drape over the door jam and floor of the car.  We used it just for the bride to enter and exit the car in case there was any dirt in these hard to clean places.  The sheet will work.  However, can you possibly find an inexpensive satin sheet or table cloth?  The satin will help the dress slide in and out, and prevent more wrinkling.

    I agree that the florist beads may be a waste of money.  I would also check with your venue to see if they have restrictions in terms of the reception being held outdoors and the beads possibly harming any birds or other creatures of nature that may be in the surrounding environment.  They may also be a pain in the fanny to clean.

    Guests don’t typically need much more than good food and great people to enjoy themselves.  Bubbles for the kids might be fun and appropriate for the occasion.  Corn hole is great.  A few decks of cards would be simple to lay on the tables, and if they are not used, then the cost and effort to transport them is minimal.

    For RSVP’s, wait 2-3 days past the due date.  There may be a few for whom the invitation may actually have been lost.  Others literally will not respond until the actual due date.  I have yet to know ANY event for which the host does not have to track down a few souls.  Call and leave a message.  “Hi.  Our RSVP date has come and gone.  We need to finalize our numbers.  I MUST hear from you by X-XX (usually give them 1-2 days).  If I do not, I will assume you are unable to attend AND WILL PUT YOU DOWN AS NOT ATTENDING. We’re sorry you cannot join us.”

    When seats are not assigned, it is typical to need 1-3 additional tables above and beyond your guest count.  Some guests may not want to cozy up to a table of apparent friends or family when they don’t know them.  They can feel as if they are intruding on a “private party”, if you know what I mean.

    The rehearsal dinner sounds wonderful.  Depending on the casualness of the ceremony, a rehearsal is not always even necessary.  My daughter wished to have a casual rehearsal, but her MIL, who offered to host, preferred a VERY structured and formal dinner following the rehearsal.  They graciously accepted although it was very much NOT what they had in mind.

    Welcome to The Knot.  No question is a bad one!

    short+sassyeileenrob
  • I think treating the dance as something people *can* see but don't have to is the way to go.   If it happens while people are eating even better.   Then they can continue to do what they're doing and either turn and watch or not as they desire.  

    As for the florist beads, if you're talking the flat glass ones I would mock up a table with the beads and then multiply the beads you use by the # of tables.   If you have a lot of beads I'd reconsider but I have a 3 (almost 4 yo) who just throws too much crap and if they were within arms reach of him at a table I'd find that they were heaped into a pile on the other side.   That said, there's nothing "wrong" with having them. 

    Can you call the non responders and push them into an answer?  Hopefully you can push for a clear yes or no as most people if pushed will give an answer.   Follow up after the response date and call the non responders.   Ideally that should really reduce those who fail to get you an answer. 

    Finally for the gift table, I wouldn't broadcast it but I would have an unused table to the side for people to place gifts if they bring them.   Based on your entertainment I'm assuming we're both brought up as Irish American Catholics.   FWIW, we had an empty table and a card box.   Many guests brought envelopes and few brought gifts but having a table off to the side (no labels on anything) was just easy for those who did bring something.  

    As for the car, I think a multi step process is the way to go:   days in advance clean the car.   Vacuum the carpets and if your floor mats are rubber like mine, clean and vacuum them.   For the seats, do what you can to clean them but ensure that whatever cleaning you use is definitely non staining.   For the big day throw a towel down on the floor and maybe a sheet across the seat.    Depending on length, have someone help your daughter in and out of the car across the surfaces of your home where she needs to walk.   Finally, once she's out of that car all bets are off so just roll with what happens.   Have chalk (can cover up stains) and a stain pen on hand.  I would also advise that your daughter drink lighter beverages (stick to the white wine and champagne and vodka and leave the red wine and bourbon for after the wedding dress is off) and for foods with sauces, make sure that she navigates to eat over plates to minimize drips.   

    Also pizza and beer sounds like a GREAT RD.   Easy, crowd pleasing, fast and works on your timing.   
    MobKazshort+sassy
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Thank you! The only "performance" is my niece doing a short dance. It's not something people have to watch. She'll just do it at the beginning, so that people know it's okay to dance, since the bride and groom aren't doing a first dance. (Is that what a spotlight dance is?) After that, and even during her dance, it'll be a free for all.

    We're also limiting toasts to keep the boring bits to a minimum. As the hosts, my husband and I will welcome the guests and thank them, and then the MOH and BM will do their toasts. The couple didn't want an open mike situation. It's unlikely anyone will get hammered at a brunch reception, but it's best to avoid the possibility.

    Why plastic vs a white sheet for the car? It seems like that might be sticky,and no one will see it anyway. My car is clean, but that dress is so light (ivory lace) that anything on it will show.

    Why no florist beads? The couple and I like the idea. I just want to know how many to get. Is it a cliche to have them? This is my first child to get married (and only daughter), so I have not been following wedding trends. I'm not a Pinterest girl at all, and my daughter has done most of the planning. We just pay the bills, LOL!

    I think we will err on the side of generosity regarding the flaky no response guests, and pay for them so that there will be enough. I hate waste, but being ungracious seems the greater sin to me!

    And I forgot one question: The planner said we should have a gifts table with a tray on it to receive gifts that people may bring to the actual reception. This seems awkward and tacky to me. Is it necessary? Do people actually bring gifts to the wedding rather than having them shipped?  In the culture in which I was raised, people sent or brought them to the bride's house.
    The concept of a “gift table” has provided for robust discussion on the boards.  There are some communities that set up a gift table for those few who will bring an actual gift to the wedding.  More often than not, however, it holds some type of card box in which guests can drop their cards to the bride and groom.  The gift table may or may not also be where any type of guest book might be stationed, especially if there will be no escort card table to indicate table seatings.  

    In our area, a few guests will bring a physical gift to the wedding.  They are typically smaller in nature.  My husband and I just made sure we had room in the trunk to transport these for my daughter and son.  

    I applaud your efforts to not only be a gracious host, but to respect the desires of the bride and groom.  We also gifted the weddings for my son and daughter, and our only stipulation was that the guests be properly hosted.  You have NO idea how many brides post on these boards venting because they found too late that “those who pay have the say” in almost all the wedding planning and details!

    As far as getting hammered.......I am mostly a non-drinker, but give me a few mimosa’s and.......all bets are off!
    short+sassyInLoveInQueenseileenrob
  • Thanks so much, @MobKaz and @banana468! Super helpful advice, especially about having an extra table or two. That will help with the unexpected guests, as well as with table migration. Also love the suggestion about chalk. D's roommate, who didn't want to be in the wedding but is a good friend, is responsible for bringing a crochet hook for the buttons, so I will make sure she's got some chalk, too. I've divvied up the no response people, so we're all calling according to whose friend/family member is guilty. Honestly, family is the worst! 

    My daughter converted to Catholicism when she was studying in France a couple of years ago. She had her first communion and confirmation over there, then came back to the US. She and her fiance are both super devout.  He was the organist at their church here and that's how they met. They're doing the full nuptial Mass, which is lovely. I've told her to tell their priest to warn my fellow protestants, that nope, they can't take Communion!

    Will track down some plastic to cover up any offending areas in my car! If it's hot, will just blast the A/C.

    I don't know how the idea that receptions have to be in the evening came to be. DH and I had an afternoon wedding and reception, and it wasn't that uncommon at the time. It can save money, too, as people tend to drink less in the afternoon. It didn't seem to make much difference in terms of food costs, but most venues get dollar signs in their eyes when it comes to weddings anyway. Who knew eggs Benedict could cost so darn much?

    I'm off to weigh my existing florist pebbles to see how many to order. I've found a few places that sell them cheaply.

    Thanks again for your wisdom!
    MobKazshort+sassyeileenrob
  • FWIW, I grew up with a lot of afternoon receptions but after parties were also the norm.  We opted for one into the evening so neither set of parents were going fo have to think of the second reception.  

    Can your daughter print some programs?  That's a great place to note that the Eucharist is only for Catholics in good standing but often those who cannot receive are welcome to come to the altar with arms crossed and hands at shoulders to receive a blessing.   She can also ask her priest to say that as well. 


  • Yes, @banana468, I forgot to mention that she is doing programs! Her priest has a heavy accent, so she wants to be sure people understand about the Eucharist.
    banana468short+sassy
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Some stores sell those beads online in bulk.  Check out The Dollar Store, Michael's, or Hobby Lobby.

    https://www.dollartree.com/Round-Glass-Floral-Marbles-14-oz-Bags/p333663/index.pro

  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
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    Have you considered getting your vehicle professionally detailed? It's typically not terribly expensive, around $100. Might be worth it to not mess with sheets and such. 

    ShesSoCold
  • I have, @lovesclimbing, but I don't have the time to drop it off or wait while they do it! There's one place around here that does it, and they're very good, but you have to wait for an appointment and then arrange a ride while they've got your car. We live in rural Maine. My son has offered to do some major cleaning, so between that and the sheets of plastic or whatever, we should be okay. Not attractive, but okay!
  • So I found the florist beads at a Dollar Tree. Very depressing store, but the beads were so cheap that even if they don't end up using them, I won't feel bad at all. I'll just have a crap ton of beads.
    MobKaz
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    So I found the florist beads at a Dollar Tree. Very depressing store, but the beads were so cheap that even if they don't end up using them, I won't feel bad at all. I'll just have a crap ton of beads.
    I'm sorry your store is "depressing".  Do you mean in terms of cleanliness?

    We have a Dollar Tree Store and a 5 Below Store doors from each other.  They both have a robust business.  Our stores are bright, clean, organized, and change seasonally.  Admittedly, many items at 5 Below have a better quality, but we purchased many items, including hard to find picture frames, at our Dollar Tree for the wedding. 

    It is absolutely my "go to" place for quick, easy, and inexpensive grandkid fun.  Nothing beats these two stores for inexpensive party goods and classroom "prizes" and incentives.  Like any other store, you have to "know" your products.  It is definitely NOT the place to go for paper goods, but I get almost ALL my gift wrapping, gift bags, bows, and aluminum baking pans.  My particular store just amped up their card selection BIG time.  They now carry Hallmark cards.  These cards are VERY current.  I had my pick of Super Heroes, Disney princesses, and cartoon characters. I refuse to spend $5 on cards.

    I am glad you checked it out for your purpose and had a successful mission!
  • @MobKaz, yes, it was very dirty, like the management didn't care, and the lighting was terrible. But I did find those beads!
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