Traditionally, the wedding ceremony was followed by a reception. The guests from the ceremony gathered together and celebrated the marriage. The name "reception" is derived from the couple "receiving" their guests at the celebration for the first time as a married couple. The "Wedding Breakfast" reflected the requirement in many churches for the ceremony to take place before noon; hence "breakfast" followed. Others waited until the evening for their reception which was often a formal ball. These days the term "wedding reception" is a generic term referring to the gathering that occurs after the wedding, regardless of the time of day or the degree of formality of the function. In some cultures the reception may extend over days.
A couple of weeks ago I married a delightful couple from Hong Kong. They had a small group of family with them and we celebrated after the wedding with tea and a gorgeous cake under the trees. It was a delightful way to finish the ceremony.
For others, the reception will be larger and include a meal, entertainment and dancing. The venue that you select for your reception should reflect the theme and degree of formality that you want. You might decide on an outdoors reception with a meal served under trees. Consider too whether you are having children present. If you are, think about entertainment for them. At Millbrook recently, I've had couples married with children present and they have been provided with games, paper and pens and also a suitable menu. At our own wedding, we also had many children attending and so we hired a magician to entertain them. Of course, the adults wanted to join in too!
Your venue should reflect the "look and feel" that you want. How are you planning to decorate the venue? You might want gorgeous flowers, covered chairs and elegant table settings. A candlelight setting might be the look you love. Alternatively you might like a casual setting with groups of tables and other seating both inside and outside.
This is the venue for a stunning family wedding we attended in Houston a few years ago. After drinks and canapés, the doors were opened to reveal this breathtaking setting. Each table had different flowers. The design fitted perfectly with the room design and also the overall theme of the wedding. Prior to the meal commencing, we were served drinks and canapés and, in a tribute to Leticia's Mexican heritage, we were entertained by a Mariachi Band which we all really loved. So always think about how you can incorporate the traditions, heritage or themes that are important to you.
For you, you might prefer something very casual. It could be that you have your reception at home. Maybe pizzas and and ice-cream truck in the summer with bunting to decorate the house. Or you might like a marquee on the lawn.
The key is to have the type of reception you want. Everyone will like something different. Don't be afraid to have the one that is right for you