For someone who has never been married, and has only ever attended one wedding, I know a lot about wedding receptions.
I’m familiar with a lot of words I wish I wasn’t. Like ‘bonbonnieres.’ And ‘tulle.’ And ‘marzipan.’
You see, while I was studying, I worked at a wedding reception venue. I spent almost every Saturday night for five years serving food and drinks, dimming the lights for the first dance, cutting the cake, ushering drunk guests out the door, attempting to stop physical altercations, laughing at the bad jokes of old men, getting inexplicably emotional during some speeches, while cringing at others, and setting up and packing down elaborate table settings.
As a result, I have some (highly valuable) advice for both people hosting their wedding reception, and people attending someone else's.
Don't put spirits on the tab unless you want a fight before 11pm.
If fights are your thing, go for it. But whenever I arrived at work, and we were told spirits were on the tab, we would all let out a collective groan. Humans don't mix well with spirits. They start to act... silly. What starts off as some banter between a group of grown men soon escalates into one man chasing the other outside with a chair while his entire family restrains him. This is not a hypothetical example - this was a real scenario.
Don't eat all the canapés.
Don't. Eat. Them. All. They're. Not. Just. For. YOU.
They are to share.
Do you see that old woman in the corner giving me crazy eyes?
She's going to be really mad if there aren't any arancini balls left by the time I get to her. She's going to make a comment about how she can't get up and come to me and it's not fair that she misses out. And you know what? She's right. And I end up feeling a) incompetent, b) guilty, and c) hungry. I want arancini balls too. (Post continues after gallery.)
Don't make fun of the food.
Once I offered a man a rice paper roll, only to have him respond: "Eww, it looks like a finger!"
I... I guess that's a no then.
Ask people, like, 17 times if they have a goddamn dietary requirement.
It turns out people — even those who are deathly allergic to seafood — are really bad at making their dietary requirements clear. Almost every wedding I worked at, there would be at least one person who couldn't eat gluten/dairy/nuts/meat/fish/sugar/sodium/ANYTHING, and hadn't told anyone.
I completely understand how important dietary needs are, but Jesus, people. There are potentially hundreds of guests at this event - organise your shit. Tell the bride and groom multiple times. Tell the whole bridal party. Hell, tell the mailman. Just plllleeeeease don't let us come to your table with a dish, be told you can't eat it, and not have anything prepared for you to eat. IT MAKES ME SWEAT.
Excuse me, bride and groom, but neither of you want to be slurring your words and stumbling by the time you get a chance to chat with your family at dinner.
So seriously - pace yourself. And EAT. The bride and groom literally never eat any of their courses. I know this, because we eat it.
People can be great friends, and terrible speakers.
I've sat through more than my fair share of awkward speeches. Just because someone is your best friend, does not, I repeat, DOES NOT mean they're the most suitable person to deliver a speech on your wedding day.
It's not funny to make jokes about walking in on the bride and groom having sex.
It's not funny to make jokes about the bride and groom breaking up a million times.
It's not funny to tell jokes that only you and the bride/groom get.
It's not cool to drag your speech on for half an hour and hold up the entire evening.
SAY SOMETHING NICE AND SIT DOWN.
It's almost time for dessert. Speaking of...
No one eats dessert. NO ONE. So don't waste your money.
Everyone's too drunk. It's a fact. Don't waste your money on dessert. Just cut up the cake and put it on the tables for sad drunk people to comfort eat with.
The waste literally gave me anxiety.
Watch: The wedding horror stories that'll make you cringe. (Post continues after video.)
Don't blame everything on the wait staff.
The staff serving you are probably the least blame-worthy people in this entire scenario. They didn't do the planning for the event, they didn't cook the food, they didn't replace your vodka with water (wtf) and they didn't choose the music.
So while they're clearing your dinner plates, or putting out cake, or sweeping up the 14th broken glass for the night, don't whinge to them. Whinge to the bride and groom - it's probably their fault.
Don't put the disruptive table near the kitchen door.
This used to happen every single time.
The table who were rowdy by 6pm and trashing the floral decorations by 6.30pm seemed to always be placed near the kitchen door, which also happened to be the furthest point from the bridal table. On the one hand, fair enough. I guess you had to invite these people for whatever reason and you don't want them disturbing your entire night.
But on the other hand, placing them near the kitchen door means a) they're going to finish all the canapés before they get to anyone else, and b) someone, probably a really young person bringing food out, is going to get hurt. Intoxicated adults tend to make a huge mess at weddings, to the point where it's legitimately dangerous. My advice: don't invite the dickheads.
GIVE ME A SLIDESHOW, DAMMIT.
Personally, I cannot even deal with a slideshow of a couple with photos over the years (or months - no judgment) with a good song playing in the background. It gets me every time. It's so romantic. I like when they start with them individually as babies, then have photos of them growing up, then when they met, then all the things they've done together and ahhhh I just love it. Forget the overly rehearsed engagement photo shoot - just go for the basics. That's where the feels are.
In my five years in hospitality, I saw more spilled wine bottles, annihilated bathrooms (what did you... eat?) and dancefloor falls than anyone should see in one lifetime. I'm not even a "wedding" person, but I've already got my entire wedding planned based on all the fails I've seen.
To be honest, though, as long as the bride and groom were having one of the best days of their lives, all the other details didn't really matter.
And that was probably my favourite part about working at weddings.