Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Friday, December 21, 2012

Clever Ways to Release the Tables at the Reception

Filed under: Buffet Line,Receptions,Wedding Tips — Larry James @ 8:30 am
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The reception is a great time for friends and family to get to know each other. For food choices, buffets are usually the less expensive option, and most preferred by guests. You can still experience high class, gourmet cuisine, even if the way it is being served is less formal than a full wait-staff. Guests can easily go back for seconds at any time throughout the duration of the reception.

buffetlineThe main advantage of serving buffet-style is that it’s easier to offer a broad selection of food to choose from, which can be a good alternative for a diverse group of people having widely varying tastes. Due to the fact that guests are forced to get out of their seats and interact while in line, buffets foster socialization. Having the hotel staff set up the buffet line so guests can get their food from either side will speed things up a bit.

Often the guests will wonder when they should go through the buffet line. You will want to avoid the problem that had everyone standing in a 150 person line that extends all the way around the wedding hall. The bride and groom are served by the staff from the buffet or they may choose to go through the buffet line. Next, the parents, the bridal party and then the guests.

Often someone from the catering staff will go from table to table telling each table when to join others in the buffet line. Each table can have a different color and the DJ simply calls out the color name at various intervals. Here are a few creative ways to have the disc jockey release tables to control congestion in the buffet line.

One of the most common ways to release the tables is to have the disc jockey or MC will call a table number at various intervals and those at that table will head for the buffet line. If number system on the tables does not thrill the bride and groom, you could put the numbers underneath the flower arrangements, or under one of the guest chairs.

Write the name of a song on the back of each of the table numbers or table names. Have your disc jockey make an announcement that when the guests hear the song designated for their table that they then can “dance” their way to the buffet. This only happens after the wedding party and parents have been released. The titles can reflect a theme or it could be a selection of songs from a particular band or artist. Instruct the guests that they will know it’s their turn to get in line when their song is played. This is a clever way to dismiss tables without having to have someone physically dismiss them or announce that they can go.

For a fun effect, Have your disc jockey call a flower name instead. For example, a table will have a centerpiece of calla lilies while another table will have roses, and so on. If you only want one kind o flower, you can have different types of roses – red roses, white, pink, yellow, etc. As long as the other parts of the table décor are coordinated it will work. For example, if you have a white tablecloth and green napkins – or all white, it will coordinate with virtually any flower arrangement. Instead of table numbers, you could name each table a term of endearment or words of love – love, hugs, caring, kisses, adore, etc., – name each table a different flower or an exotic location – Paris, Venice, etc.

endearmentTableName that tune. Before your wedding day, have the disc jockey create short song clips using favorite tunes enjoyed by the bride and groom. Play one song clip at a time and ask that guests stand up if they recognize the song. Guests are asked to stand up once they are sure they recognize the song. Pay close attention to who stands up first and give them the first chance to guess. If the table guesses correctly they will be the next to join the buffet line. If they guess wrong they’ll have to point to another table that will get to go up ahead of them as a consequence.

Have your guests sing for their supper! The disc jockey goes from table to table and asks the guests at each table to sing a few bars of a song with “Love” in the title.

Still another popular option for moving people easily to the buffet line: play the bride and groom trivia game. This idea is usually a crowd pleaser because it’s fun and gets everybody involved and working together. Prior to your wedding reception, write down some questions for your guests to answer. Your band’s leader, disc jockey/MC, or a member of the wedding party can ask trivia questions (about the Bride and Groom) and based on the winning table can tell them the order in which they will be released to the buffet line. This way, each table competes as a team to see in what order they get to hit the buffet. Doing it this way will keep it orderly and allow the catering staff to refresh the buffet after each eight to ten person team comes through the line. The winner of the first spot can proceed to the buffet while the game is still being played.

There are many other creative ways that you can come up to release the tables for the buffet line. The important thing is that the guests have fun and go home with their bellies full and satisfied.

Bonus Tip: This tip has nothing to do with releasing the tables at the reception but I like the idea and you will too. It’s a fun twist to the familiar tapping forks against glasses to see the bride and groom kiss. At various times during the reception – between dances and courses – have the disc jockey ask a couple of guests to go to the “Kissing Table” and each couple must roll a pair of dice just once. If they roll an even number, then the bride and groom kiss but if they roll an odd number, the dice rollers must kiss. The bride and groom can give the disc jockey the names of several couples to call on.

BONUS Article: Brilliant Ideas for Table Numbers at the Reception

Photo Credit: Top left, Morgan Trinker.

Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s “romantic” Wedding Website. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or Cell: 480-205-3694. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 470 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

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  1. Unless you’re in a hotel, a double-sided buffet line does not work. Letting guests serve themselves will always result in not having enough food for everyone. Guests eyes are always bigger than their stomachs. I’ve seen so much waste and several times there not being enough because of this. I’ve also experience 9 times out of 10 trying to release tables does not work either. 1/3 of the way through people get antsy and/or tired of waiting their turn and get up anyway.


    Comment by Wedding Coordinator — Wednesday, December 26, 2012 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

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