3 Wedding Reception Planning Tips // Charlottesville Wedding Photographer

As a Charlottesville Wedding Photographer, receptions are some of my favorite parts of any wedding day! The nerves and wedding day jitters are gone, and now you get to relax and let loose. Just like when planning the ceremony and details, I encourage you to plan your reception to involve things that you enjoy and aspects of your life/relationship that you want to highlight. It’s your time to celebrate your marriage and this new chapter in your life with the people that matter most in your life.

Keep scrolling to see my top 3 planning tips so you’ll enjoy your time at your wedding reception and have it documented, too!


Couple laughing during speeches at City View on the James wedding reception

Considering Your Guests

I’m often asked about when I would recommend scheduling reception events that have pretty flexible timing, like cake cutting, money dance, and other cultural events. If you’re thinking about playing games such as the shoe game, timing this after cake cutting is a great transition. This gives the servers a change to cut and serve your cake while your guests remain entertained. 

Something to consider while planning these is that older guests often don’t stay too late into the evening. So you may want to plan certain traditions and moments earlier in the evening to ensure Grandma can be there, too. Plus, this way, guests can enjoy those moments earlier in the night. Then, you can dance the night away with your college friends without any interruptions.

Beyond these considerations, I recommend chatting with your wedding planner. They will have the best insight for timing these events.

Couple cutting cake at Seattle Museum of Art Wedding Reception

Wedding Reception Coverage

Oftentimes couples plan for the photographer to leave after all the traditional wedding events take place. But then they miss out on some of the best moments getting captured! I love getting to stay through the end of the wedding reception though.

As the night progresses, guests begin to shake their nerves and warm up on the dance floor. As everyone beings to let the stress of the day melt away, that’s the most fun, joyous moments. This is when the really magic happens, and I get the good stuff!

Whether it’s wholesome time together or a bit of debauchery, don’t edit your memories. Those moments come with stories you’ll want to relive after it’s all said and done – the photos of your nearest and dearest, celebrating together, and having a blast bringing two families together.

Grandma on the dance floor at Sweeney Todd Barn

Be You

At the end of the day, it’s your wedding day. Whether that means skipping certain traditions or doing them all, your wedding day should be a day you never forget. Your reception should be a reflection of you: you can mix in/nix out traditions to your heart’s content. It’s about celebrating you and your partner’s next step together in life, and making this day something you’ll want to relive over and over. 

parent dances together at Sweeney Barn reception

So yes, choose donuts over cake. Do your parent dances together. Maybe you skipped the cord and veil ceremony but still want to do the money dance – go for it! This is an event that you can make it anything you want it to be, so do it! If there are any songs you don’t want to hear on the dance floor, let your DJ or band know so they keep that on a “Do Not Play” list for you. 

When you receive your wedding album at the end of all this, the goal is to see every image, and feel like ‘WOW, that’s me! That’s US!’.

And the best thing you can do to help make that happen is to stay true to you.

As your photographer, I want to be there to capture all the moments, big and small, and sometimes that involves the unscripted moments. No matter what decisions you make in regards to your reception, it’s going to be perfect because it’s a reflection of you and your relationship. 

Don’t just take it from me – head over to my reviews to see what my couples have to say what the wedding experience with me is like.

Still planning? Check out my favorite Charlottesville Wedding Venues!


Couple's first kiss at Mount Ida's lakeside gazebo

Couple on dance floor of Charlottesville Wedding Reception

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