Regional Wedding Reception Traditions

November 27, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Recently, a friend of mine traveled from the New York City area to attend a relative's wedding in Texas.  When she returned, she asked me (because I am a wedding professional) if I thought the weddings here in the Northeast were too formal, stuffy or just plain overdone.  When I asked her to explain, she detailed the wedding day's events in the Lone Star State.  She told me about the

  • Preparations (no big difference there, except perhaps the absence of a professional makeup artist)
  • Ceremony (no big difference there, either)
  • Reception (BIG Difference - keep reading for more info!)

WHOA - wait a sec! What happened to the cocktail hour?

Well, it seems a cocktail hour is not done in some parts of the country. It's just not even considered. The preferred time for formal photos by a professional photographer while the guests sit and mingle doesn't even happen. It may seem to be a formal thing but it REALLY serves a purpose in the flow of a wedding.  As I mentioned, this is the time a photographer grabs the family and does the formal portraits.  This is the time the guests get to meet each other and find long lost friends and family. This is the time for a quick bite and a relaxing deep breath before the celebrating begins. 

Okay, so do away with that and you've shortened your reception time. Thus, one less hour on your venue reservation. Nope, no carving stations, no fancy appetizers, no waiters passing champagne sips and finger food on silver trays.

Now for the reception...

Well, let's do away with the sit-down, four-course dinner for starters.  Remove the salad selections and provide ONE entree (on a buffet line):  Chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and boiled stringbeans.  Yuppers, sure sounds like a special meal to me - - NOT!!!

C'mon, if you can get that at any roadhouse, why would you serve it at a wedding??  Well, one reason is that a majority of the people attending actually like this and will think you went to a lot of trouble figuring out their preferences because you care.  Another reason is that the attendees are getting something to eat.  In order to keep costs down, some afternoon wedding receptions consist of coffee, tea, punch, cookies and wedding cake. In the courtyard of the church where the ceremony took place.  It's cozy, it's familiar AND it's very inexpensive.

You'll also note, dancing the night away is not obligatory. After a tray of cookies, everyone wishes the bride and groom good luck and (gasp!) that's it. Goodbye, go home, see ya around.

So, back to the original question... Are we too formal? Stuffy? Overdone??  From someone else's point of view, maybe. We tend to look at weddings as a once in a lifetime event. I think we want the wedding to be an indelible memory for ourselves and our guests. I don't think we put on a big show to impress anyone; I think we do this because it IS special and we want it to feel special.

At the end of the day, doing it with a smaller budget, without some of the frills, doesn't make you any less married.  And just maybe, that's the way it's done OUTSIDE of the New York City area.

What are your thoughts?  When you look for a professional wedding photographer to capture the day, fancy or plain, look no further - - call me! 908-229-1694


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