Groom Duties

Your Role Planning the Reception: 10 Signs of Danger

When you were born with a Y chromosome, you were blessed with the following advantages: standing urination, comfortable shoes, 10,000 years of higher wages, a superior (if imaginary) sense of direction, and, best of all, excusal from planning the wedding reception.

This is your fiancée’s burden. You’re (mostly) off the hook. So unlike the wedding-porn, we won’t waste your time with 20 pages of tedium—when you should book the venue (“the earlier the better: 96 months in advance!!!”), questions to ask the vendors (yawn) or “insider’s tips” like the importance—as if you would never consider this—of getting multiple quotes. (You think?)

There’s only one catch. While your bride plans the reception, you need to make sure that’s she also planning a party. You’ll be eating the food, you’ll be drinking the booze, you’ll be dancing to the music. It’s your job, as the groom, to make it feel like a party and not a ritual. So it behooves you to monitor the situation–from a safe distance–and keep your eyes peeled for signs of alarm.

Much can go wrong. Poor choices can be made. 10 warning signs that demand your attention:

1. The early bird

When it comes to scheduling, think of your reception like a first date. No sensible guy would ever want a first date in the morning or afternoon. Why? It all comes down to this equation:

Morning = sunlight = no alcohol = no chance of sex.

While you are guaranteed sex on your wedding night (for more on that, click here), your guests are not. Your buddies are not. Look out for them. Like a first date, keep the reception at night. More generally, early-in-the-day receptions sort of suck all around. If your festivities end at 2pm, everyone awkwardly wonders what to do next and goes home unsatisfied. You might as well elope. If you need to cut costs, it’s better to squeeze the guest list or pick a cheaper venue.

2. Style over substance

You can’t eat ice sculptures. You can’t drink aquarium water. So before your fiancée sets her heart on those delphinium table decorations, make sure the basics—open bar, red meat—are taken care of. Besides, just like ugly girls at 3am, table decorations look better when you’re drunk. (Pop quiz: what does “delphinium” mean? If you know the answer, you fail.)

3. Themes

We couldn’t make this up. These are actual themes suggested by actual wedding planning sites: “Medieval Magic,” “Fifties Bop,” Mexican Fiesta,” “Disney,” and our favorite, “Nautical Splendor.” (What does that even mean?) This would be kind of funny…except that your fiancée is reading these very sites. Stay vigilant. Otherwise you’ll be trapped in a Cinderalla pumpkin carriage while getting married by a Fairy Godmother.

4. Do It Yourself Music

Nope. I don’t care if your fiancée used to DJ in college and has a 200 GB iPod. For an extensive discussion of why you need a professional band or DJ, click here.

5. Outsmarting the menu

You know how on 3rd and inches, sometimes a coach will outsmart himself with a “gadget play”—a triple-reverse, a flea-flicker—that loses 14 yards? The same can happen with your food menu. Your fiancée might want to “experiment” with rare, expensive, exotic choices that none of your guests have ever heard of. And that’s fine…to a point. But be sure to also include some basics (at least one recognizable slab of beef) for your guests that prefer Pabst over Prosecco.

6. Blood sugar collapse

You’ll find more day-of survival tactics by clicking here, but this one requires advanced preparation. Most newlyweds get so swept up in the handshaking, table-visiting, and ass-kissing that they forget to do one thing: eat. So when your fiancée plans the reception itinerary, be sure to include 15 minutes to wolf down some overpriced food. Otherwise, if your (or her) blood sugar plummets, you can kiss that sex guarantee goodbye.

7. Whining about wine

It’s simple. If your fiancée thinks that you need to slash the open bar and cheap out by only serving wine, simply cut 5% from the guest list. Done and done. You don’t think it’s possible? Click here and we’ll show you.

This can’t be a compromise. Never sacrifice the open bar. To clarify: “open bar” doesn’t mean that your guests are able to order a 1937 Glenfiddich. You should, however, have the basics: house rum, whiskey, vodka, etc. As an aside and cautionary warning, The Plunge’s fearless founder thought it’d be fun to have a “Scotch Tasting” at his wedding…and it set him back twelve grand. So know your limits before you give the bar a green light.

Do you think you have a good reason to skip the open bar? You don’t. Here’s our challenge: if you think that you have an actual good reason why you should scrap the open bar in favor of something else, tell us why by e-mailing [email protected]. We’ll run any convincing arguments below…

8. Buffet vs. Sit-Down Freak-out

It’s more “elegant,” supposedly, to have a sit-down dinner than by using buffet stations. And maybe that’s true. But guess what: your guests don’t care. There’s nothing wrong with a waiter-served five-course meal, but never choose this at the expense of alcohol or music. Plus, buffet stations will inject the evening with fluidity, encouraging your guests to mingle and flirt.

9. Stuffy historic venue

Your fiancée might get seduced by an article in Bride Hourly that recommends a formal, white-gloved gala in the historic art gallery. Or, as The Knot says, “How cool to marry in a local landmark!” How cool indeed. Stuffy historic venues are usually overpriced and underappreciated by your guests. Trust us. They don’t care if the ballroom was once curated by the second nephew of Millard Fillmore. Wait, who’s Millard Fillmore? Exactly.

10. Diversity seating

Your fiancée might think it’d be really neat if everyone “got to know each other better,” so she drafts the seating chart accordingly, plopping your friends next to her friends. Stop the madness. When people shell out $200 for a wedding, they want to laugh and get wasted with their good friends, some of which they haven’t seen in months or years. There’s plenty of time for mingling on the dance floor. The one exception: the single’s table. Mix, match, and never stick your buddies with the trolls.

And now for (arguably) the most important thing for you to keep an eye on: the guest list.

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