Melissa’s Notes on The Knots Secrets to a Fun Houston Wedding Reception

“One of my favorite parts of my job is keeping in tune with the trends and exciting ways couples entertain their weddings guess. During planning sessions, I always explain to my couples that there are no “Wedding Traditions” anymore. Weddings are all about the couple. Throw away etiquette, and showcase your personality! I found this article on the Knot Blog, and in my head, I started thinking about the different weddings at Moffitt Oaks, and how our couples showcase their personalities. So I went ahead and added my notes under The Knot suggestions and even added some Moffitt Oaks pictures to compare!  Well the Knot had 20 Secrets to a Fun Wedding Reception, I am going to narrow them down to my favorite 10! You can read the full Knot article here.”

10 Secrets to a Fun Houston Wedding Reception

While your Houston wedding ceremony is both special and crucial (it’s when you’ll actually get married!), the reception is probably what you and your guests are most looking forward to—who doesn’t want to eat, drink and dance? The best celebrations incorporate personal, fun and unique touches to keep guests smiling and talking about it long after the last dance.

1. Arrange Seating Thoughtfully

Houston Wedding Reception

The Knot- photo on the left by Larissa Cleveland Photography, and Moffitt Oaks- photo on the right by Luke and Cat Photography

It sounds obvious, but don’t discount the importance of a solid seating arrangement. Place guests with people they’ll know and get along with. It might seem like a great idea to play matchmaker, or force your guests to sit with strangers to make new friends—but at the end of the day, they’re there for you, and to catch up with their own farflung pals. Put another way, a well-thought-out seating chart leads to great conversation, which leads to a great dance party, which leads to an unforgettable night. So seat your tween cousins with other kids their age and let your college friends sit together.

“I am personally a huge fan of open seating because I think people naturally congregate with people they know and want to catch-up with. If you do assigned seating, I love the idea of adding a personal touch. When I was reading this article, I kept thinking about Erica and Sean who hosted their wedding with us back in 2016! Erica handwrote “thank you” cards for every guest that attended her wedding, and had them set on the charger plate during the reception. It cannot get much more personal than that!”

2. Hand Out Awesome Favors

Houston Wedding Reception

The Knot photo by Rachel Pearlman Photography, and Moffitt Oaks photo by Leah Brewer Photography

Wedding favors should be the cherry on top of a fabulous reception. Let your guests know how much you appreciate having them there by offering a take-home treat (think: doughnuts, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, a bag of your favorite coffee beans or jars of local honey), a cute succulent plant or a pair of sunglasses branded with your initials and wedding date.

“While the koozies have been a favorite wedding favor for our southern weddings, I am a big fan of mixing things up! Katelyn and Chad were one of our first weddings at Moffitt Oaks, but their wedding favors are still part of our venue! They gave us some succulents as a “thank you”, and we planted them in our Barn garden. For over 3 years, we’ve watched these succulents grow into these beautiful additions to our venue. I can only imagine their guests feeling the same as they watch their wedding favors grow in their personal garden.

3. Keep Toasts Short and Sweet

Houston Wedding Reception

The Knot Photo on the right by Delbarr Moradi Photography, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the left by Brooke Taelor Photography

Wedding toasts are all about quality over quantity, so ask anyone who’s speaking to make sure their toasts are no more than two minutes. If they have any longer anecdotes, they can feel free to share at the rehearsal dinner.

“Imagine your reception, your guests just ate dinner, they are excited to get out of their seats to start dancing after the toast! We think the toast are just about to wrap up, when there’s an announcement for open toast. A line starts forming, and what we thought was going to be 10 minutes of toast, end up being 45 minutes. We all want to hear about the groom’s crazy college stories, or how you and your Maid of Honor played dress-up wedding as kids, but it’s ok to limit the length. I always recommend trying to keep your toast to 5 people or less with a max of 10 minutes. Trust me, your guests would rather be making memories with you at the photo booth or on the dance floor rather than listening to 45 minutes of toasts.”

4. Have a Plan for Kids

Houston Wedding Reception

The Knot photo on the left by First Comes Love Photography, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the right by Leah Brewer Photography

To keep the little ones entertained throughout the night (and to give their parents an opportunity to hit the dance floor), give them their own designated area. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter to set up and oversee movies, games, crafts or a kid-centric dance party. You can also set up a few tables topped with coloring books, crayons, games and small toys.

“We all love when kids come to weddings! They are always the first one on the dance floor and usually the first to pass out from exhaustion from all the fun they had! It’s always nice when our couples enhance the little guests by setting a kids table or area for them to release some of their energy. We’ve had a sports basket so the kids can play football or cheer leader on our covered back patio in the Barn. We even had an arts and craft table so the kiddos can color and be creative! My all-time favorite kid entertainment was when we had Mr. D’s Snow Cones on property! I love walking through the reception and seeing the little ones with rainbow mouths from the snow cones!

5. Shake Things Up for Your First Dance

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The Knot photo on the left by The Nichols, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the right by Alex Cross Photography

All eyes will be on you during your first dance—it’s the perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a fun surprise. Start with a romantic dance to “At Last,” or other classic first dance song, then suddenly switch gears to a energetic Latin dance or break it down to Bruno Mars. 

“Your family and friends lining the dance floor, tear filled eyes locked on you, and you’re in your husband’s arms… the First Dance naturally is a “wow” moment during your reception. I had the pleasure to coordinate Joanne and Kevin’s ceremony and reception back in early December. Their attention to detail amazed me. They wanted everything to be perfect! Together Joanne and Kevin took dance lessons and had a choreographed first dance. It was perfect! The song choice was spot on with their personality. Their free-style portion showcased their emotions. But above all else, their first dance will be something they will remember forever, because it was more than that 3 minute dance during the reception. Their first dance was 6 dance lessons, and two onsite rehearsals. They spent hours sharing their first dance, and to me that is so much more than the 3 minute dance during the reception.”

6. Change Into Something Comfortable

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The Knot photo on the right by Ashley Brockinton Photography, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the left by Evoke Photography

Let’s put it this way: You won’t have a good time at your reception if you can’t take two steps without snagging your train, right? So after the first dance, brides can swap the veil and bustle for a fabulous little white dress or jumpsuit, and grooms can change to a more relaxed suit. If you and your new spouse are comfortable enough to move freely, you’ll dance more, chat more, laugh more and eat more cake—that’ll rub off on your guests.

“What bride doesn’t want two dresses for her wedding celebrations? I have to agree with every word the Knot is suggesting when it comes to changing out of your wedding dress. I’ve had brides upset when their bustle broke because their cousin stepped on their dress while doing the Copper Head Road. There’s only one way to avoid this. Once the dance floor opens, take a few minutes to refresh and change into a party dress or romper. I promise you will feel better and will not have to worry about Aunt Sally spilling her red wine on your dress!

7. Plan Surprise Entertainment

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The Knot photo on the left by Anne Almasy, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the right by Andrew Chain Photography

Sometimes the best parts of a reception are what guests don’t see coming. Surprise your loved ones with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a magician, mariachi band, aerialists or a salsa dancer.

“I am all about the personal touches that showcase your personalities. There is no better way to do this than adding surprise entertainment during your ceremony or reception. Here at Moffitt Oaks, we had a bull rider groom and his soon to be wife have a riding bull in our arena! Guests “oh and ah” over this unique feature. Another time, the groom was a pilot and wanted to leave the wedding in a helicopter. After their sparkler grand exit, one of his colleagues landed a helicopter on our 47 acres and away they went! The possibilities are endless here at Moffitt Oaks!

8. Find a DJ Who Gets You

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The Knot photo on the left by Chellise Michael Photography, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the right by Kristen Carrigan Photography

Okay, this is a little more obvious, but we have to mention it because music is a major reception fun factor, and has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the DJ plays obsure songs that are hard to dance to. Talk to your DJ about your do-not-play list upfront.

“We understand that every bride and groom has different wants and needs during their reception. Whether it is playing the Aggie fight song, or your sorority dance, you need to discuss with your DJ during the planning sessions your expectations. The last thing we want if for changes moments before, because it will end in disappointment. Here at Moffitt Oaks, we’ve partnered with three DJ companies who want to meet with you to learn everything about their couples. Together, they will help you make a do not play list, a must have list, and even ceremony processional music!”

9. Play Music Everyone Can Dance to

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The Knot photo on the left by W&E Photographie, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the right by Designs by Karinda Photography

Whether you’ve hired a band or a DJ, if you want to keep the dance floor packed, plan a playlist that will please the whole crowd, not just you two. You may love obscure indie rock, but now isn’t the time to show off your discerning taste in music. Sure, mix in a few of your favorites, but don’t leave out the past and present hits, otherwise you risk an empty dance floor.

“While every wedding is different, we all have our few songs that get everyone on the dance floor. My favorite is “Sweet Caroline”, but we also have “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Friends in Low Places” on this list. Like clockwork, anytime we play these songs during a wedding reception, the dance floor fills up. Let your DJ know of the songs that get your family and friends out of their seats.”

10. Hire a Day-of Coordinator

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The Knot photo on the left by Chennergy, and Moffitt Oaks photo on the right by Sarah Ainsworth Photography

You may have a ton of fun ideas lined up for your reception, but no matter how organized you are it’s much more difficult than you’d think to keep each of those plans and moving parts in check. If you already have an event planner, you’re all set. If not, look into booking a day-of coordinator to oversee the details (trust us, it’s worth it). Check out the different types of planners you can hire.

“I cannot stress this enough. Hire a day of wedding coordinator! You will regret not having a coordinator after your special day. Here at Moffitt Oaks, we include a full service wedding coordinator with all three of our wedding packages. Together we have 3 planning sessions so we as a coordinator can learn everything about your wedding. We want to know who is walking the aisle with whom, what beverage you want to drink during dinner, and even who is taking your personal items home at the end of the night. By learning all parts of your wedding, we are able to become a barrier between mishaps and you. The best part is that our coordinators are standard in our wedding packages!”

To read the full Knot article, please click here.

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