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  • Writer's pictureAmy Katz

8 Ways to Make Your Wedding Reception Stand Out from the Crowd

No couple is the same, which is why no wedding day should be the same! There are so many ways that you and your partner can spice up your day with sweet little touches that exude your personality as a couple. One question we get from a lot of couples is, “Well we have an idea of what we want, but it seems pretty traditional, how can we make sure our wedding stands out and keeps people talking?”

Well, we have a few ideas for you. And this is just the beginning, as we can personalize just about anything to make it over-the-top impressive for your big day! Our AKE team is obsessed with dreaming up ideas that will ensure your wedding anything but average.

Delight with Imaginative Menu Items

At AKE we work with the best caterers to craft menus that guests haven’t experienced at a wedding before! We want to tantalize tastebuds with every bite and surprise guests with fun culinary features that make for a memorable celebration. A few fun and delicious options we love are:

  • Travel outside the norm with internationally inspired menu options. Think fresh, local mozzarella, burrata, and ricotta hand-rolled in front of your eyes by a Cheese Artisan and served with all your favorite Italian accompaniments. Or maybe, a pasta station with a chef twirling each serving in a wheel of Parmesan! If your guests like a little more heat, a flaming fajita bar with some extra spice will do the trick. You can get so creative with this!

  • Offer a DIY cocktail station with an ice luge to chill cocktails as they’re served.

  • Serve your raw bar atop a sprawling ice sculpture of the NYC skyline as an ode to the place you fell in love.

  • Serve up bite-sized tapas and heavy hors d’oeuvres that will allow people to have a little taste of everything rather than a standard plated meal.

  • Make it brunch! We all love a good chicken and waffles bar or make-your-own mimosa station.

Feature Artistic Lighting to Set the Mood

We aren’t joking when we say that the way you light up a space can totally change the ambiance, vibe, and impact of an event. Especially when it comes to weddings and creating an alluring romantic vibe! Here are a few lighting additions that will help welcome your guests with jaw-dropping impact:

  • Our absolute favorite trick is hanging clear globes from the ceiling, each with their own sparkling candle inside—it’s automatically whimsical and awe-inspiring.

  • For both indoor and outdoor events, you can frame the dance floor with gleaming Edison bulb string lights that twinkle and shine.

  • Share your new initials in lights! Get a monogram gobo designed for the dance floor or marquee letters with bulb lights to display on the wall behind your sweetheart table or near the cake.

Photographer: Denise Wine Studio

  • If it’s an outdoor wedding, hang chandeliers and lanterns from the trees for a dazzling nighttime scene. These spots are perfect for a late-night photoshoot with your sweetheart.

Photographer: Brett Matthews Studio

Bring the Outside, Inside

You don’t have to have a garden wedding to feature all the gorgeous blooms and greenery. In fact, we encourage you to bring the outside, inside! Now what do we mean by that? Here are some ideas:

  • Get married under a dreamy wedding arch covered in ivy and white roses.

  • Dine under floral chandeliers that have your favorite blooms soaring high in the sky.

  • Hang your place cards from a tree, whether it’s a lush blooming green or a frosted white tree for winter, it’s a great way to greet your guests with impact.

Photographer: Brett Matthews Studio

  • Cover your grand entrance stairway with fierce florals to enhance your arrival.

  • Design a flower wall with your monogrammed initials in lights for entrance photo ops!

Photographer: Brett Matthews Studio

Skip Regular ol’ Favors

Now, let us start by saying we love the seeds to plant, the candles to light, the monogrammed matches—don’t get us wrong. But if you’re looking to really create that WOW factor for guests, personalizing favors and giving something that creates buzz is one way to do that. A few ideas we love for unique favors are:

  • Hire a cigar roller to offer guests hand-rolled cigars to enjoy at the wedding and to take home.

  • Make your own wine blend or pour your own candle with monogrammed bottles and jars to be filled, an interactive option that you and your fiancée can have fun with too.

  • Feature your own culture or sweet memories—give them limoncello made with your Nana’s recipe or import the Belgian chocolate you enjoyed on the trip where you got engaged for a taste of your favorite place.

  • Rather than favors, make a donation on your guests’ behalf to an organization, or organizations, that have directly affected you as a couple and your family, people feel good when they give back.

Have Fun with the Music

For a lot of people, music helps us let loose, express ourselves, and it may have even created a special bond between you and your partner! Feature a live 10-piece band, have the DJ play a song you recorded as a surprise for your new spouse, hire a flamenco guitarist that will serenade you with the sounds of your favorite place to visit together.

There are so many options for getting creative with the music to impress your guests and make the celebration your own. So much so, we wrote a blog about it… check it out for the full rundown on how to customize the music for your big day!

Get Creative with Your Tablescapes

A tablescape is essentially the landscaping of your tables at the wedding. It’s what you put atop those pretty linens to really set the scene, literally and figuratively, for your big day. A few tablescape ideas we love are:

  • Upgrade your linens! It is absolutely incredible how quickly a room can be brought to next-level beauty with gorgeous rosette satin linens or neutral linens with a little shimmer.

  • Go big and bold with your centerpieces. There is nothing we love more than an overflowing candelabra cascading down with blooms that bring your color scheme to life.

Photographer: Brett Matthews Studio

Photographer: The Day

  • Create levels with your design. You can have candles at different heights or string floating roses from the ceiling!

  • Use your china as décor. You can set each place with vintage blue and white china or add a gold charger with gold utensils for a metallic pop. These simple changes add big effect!

Offer Chic Lounge Areas for Catching Up

We love a good Chiavari, but let’s be honest, when people are looking to get cozy and catch up while sipping on bubbly, they want to sink into a couch or comfy chair. Cozy lounge setups don’t just offer a ton of great seating, they can also really add to the ambiance of your wedding. If you’re going for a boho chic vibe, set up bold Moroccan rugs paired with vintage furniture or a teepee. If you love a good modern vibe, go for all white furniture and tables accented with white florals. Maybe you’re looking for that hopeless romantic vibe and can spread feathery floor seating pillows with flowy draping to set it apart from the rest of the reception.

Photographer: Brett Matthews Studio

Photographer: Hechler Photographers

Know How to Make an Exit

One of the best ways to give your guests something to talk about is making a grand entrance or exit! There are so many fun ways you can do this and a lot of it depends on your venue and what’s available or allowed, but there are ways we can help you get creative with it regardless of venue. Think options like:

  • Float into your wedding reception or cocktail hour by boat for waterfront locales.

  • Schedule a private fireworks send-off or give all the guests sparklers for similar effect.

  • Light up the night sky with floating lanterns, giving one to each guest to inscribe with their wishes for the future.

Photographer: Brett Matthews Studio

  • Leave like Cinderella in a horse-drawn carriage when the clock strikes midnight.

  • Drive away in a vintage Rolls Royce or a vintage NYC yellow taxi.

  • For daytime weddings, do a butterfly release and let the good luck and happiness flutter around you. Make sure you’re in a park or garden, though, we want those beauties to soar safely!

  • If a budget doesn’t exist, take off to your new life together in a helicopter exit flying over the night lights into the stars, or maybe even a hot air balloon ride!?

See how much fun you can have with this!? Which grand entrance and/or exit strikes your fancy?

How Can AKE Help You Design a Wedding That Stands Out?

Phew, that’s a lot of ideas to ponder as you start to design your dream wedding with WOW factor! If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or want help planning a wedding that will create buzz, our AKE team has your back. Reach out and let’s chat about those big bold wedding visions and talk about how we can make them even more unique and bring your ideas to life! We can’t wait to get started.


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