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How to Personalize Your Wedding Reception

Updated on November 20, 2017
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

Dance music can be personalized to fit the couple's theme such as a first dance to an Italian performer such as Andrea Bocelli for an Italian themed wedding.
Dance music can be personalized to fit the couple's theme such as a first dance to an Italian performer such as Andrea Bocelli for an Italian themed wedding. | Source

Most couples want a wedding reception where they provide a wonderful experience for the two of them as a couple, as well as for their guests. What better way to provide a wonderful experience than to incorporate some of the bride and groom's personalities into the reception theme? This will make it a true celebration for them as a couple. There are many ways to do this, starting with the theme of the reception.

Reception Theme Ideas

Beach Theme

There is so much that can be done to personalize a beach themed wedding, it will be too hard to list all the ideas, but here are a few of the most popular. Use beach pails as part of your centerpiece. The pails can be filled with sand and a candle centered in the middle will look festive. For extra color, add ribbons around the top. Or a pail makes a perfect holder for flowers. One nice thing about pails is that they come in many assorted colors which can usually match the colors chosen for the wedding. Or couples can use shells as part of the beach theme. See picture below which includes a garland of beach shells that were strewn along the edge of the cake table. Also, shells, whether real or bought at dollar stores can be strewn around the centerpiece for a beach look. Or clear small fishbowls could be filled with sand and shells and a candle inserted in the middle as well. For venues that don't allow lit candles due to a fire hazard, battery operated candles are easy to find at discount stores and can add just the right color and festive mood. Most people won't know if the candle is real or battery operated unless they look inside. For fun pictures at the reception, two beach chairs can be brought into the reception area with a beach umbrella, sand pails, etc. to make it look like guests are at the beach. They can go home with fun photos of their time at the reception.


Does the couple love to travel? They can include travel in their wedding reception theme. Each table name can be a different country the couple has been to or is planning on going to for their honeymoon. A couple planning a cruise can name each table after one of the cruise ports they are stopping at, including the beginning and ending ports. Or, a table for each country or state the couple have been to together. Table assignments can be pinned to a map, or arranged inside an antique suitcase. Favors can be luggage tags can be used with table assignment cards inside. Globes can be incorporated into the centerpiece.

.Boating Theme

For couples who enjoy boating or will be going on a cruise for their honeymoon, a boating theme is easy to do. Invitations can be bought online at sites like Vistaprint with cruise ships, ship's wheels, etc. all with boating themes. Centerpieces can have round life preservers in the middle of the table with a flower arrangement in the round hole. Tables could be named after famous ships, or cruise ship lines if the couple cruises a lot of will cruise on their honeymoon. For fun pictures, a canoe, kayak, or rubber raft can be brought into the reception hall, with paddles and life jackets so guests can sit inside the craft and have their pictures taken. For cute ideas for favors, mint round Lifesavers candies can be bought in packages and then wrapped in tulle with a bow any color that matches the wedding colors. Or if the wedding colors are dark blue or green, whole rolls of life savers can be purchased, wrapped in white tulle, so the color shows through, and tied with a bow on each end. And the peppermint or spearmint flavor will keep people's breath fresh throughout the whole reception!

Camping Theme

For couples who like to camp, a camping theme is very fun. Especially if the wedding reception is outdoors. A small pup tent can be set up with campfire wood, and a lantern, cooler, etc. at the entrance to the reception hall. This is a cute area to have a couple of chairs and people can pose for pictures here. Favors can be small pre-packaged pine trees or mini jarred candles with pine scents. A Christmas tree ornament in the shape of an S'more, or a tent would be cute and memorable.Tables can have the names of famous National Parks where camping is allowed such as Yellowstone or Yosemite. If the reception is outside in a backyard, set up an actual campfire and let people make their own S'mores as part of the dessert choices. And centerpieces can include a lantern with greens around it. To have a light inside, use a candle or battery operated candle, depending on the rules of the reception venue.

Foreign Country or Heritage

Having a reception theme based on a joint heritage would be a great way to celebrate the newly married couple's marriage. Wedding theme colors could easily be the colors of the flag of the country of choice. Flags could be used in the centerpieces whether it flowers with the flag in the middle or a candle centerpiece that includes battery operated candles. Food from the chosen country could be incorporated, especially if it's a country well known for delicious food, such as Italy, France, Greece, Mexico, etc. The bride and groom could share their heritage by introducing new foods from this country to them. Music can include traditional dances from that country where the bride and groom or their family members teach the dance to all guests, and then they dance together. I had a wonderful time at a wedding that included Greek dancing. Wedding favors could include small bottles of olive oil for a Greek wedding reception or small boxes of Italian cookies for an Italian wedding reception.Music could include standard types of music to dance to, such as Polka's for a Polish-themed wedding, or Italian Opera music as background music for dinner.


If the bride and groom have a hobby that they share, a wedding reception with that theme will help them share that hobby with their guests and unite them as a couple. If they share a love of a common sport such as baseball, a reception with the colors of their favorite team would be fun. Centerpieces could include a tall vase filled with mini baseballs or pennants from that team, and tables could be named after the teams in that league. Favors could be Christmas tree ornaments of a baseball, or baseball bat or cap. The wedding cake could be in the shape of a bat, ball, glove or cap. These same ideas would work for any other team sport. For more individual sports such as golf or tennis, incorporate the balls into the centerpiece, and use racquets for place card holders. And a golf cart may be able to be brought in so guests can take pictures on it in all kinds of goofy poses.

If the bride and groom's hobby is not sports related, there are still many ways to be creative. For couples who like photography, having a Polaroid camera at the reception can be fun if a designated person goes around to each table and takes silly or serious pictures of the guests which are then displayed on a tulle wrapped bulletin board for guests to see. The bride and groom can take it home with them to savor the day through pictures before the official wedding pictures arrive from their photographer. Silver or gold frames bought at craft stores can be used to display table assignments, and the guests can take them home and use them after the reception.

If you love wine or micro-brewed beer, incorporate that into the reception. Favors can be wine glasses or beer glasses engraved with the couple's initials. Mini bottles of wine with the couple's names and date of the wedding on a label make very nice gifts. These are a bit more expensive so are often given one per couple. Wine charms are always nice as well and can be attached to the seating assignment cards. Centerpieces can include a wine bottle or an empty beer pitcher with flowers inside.

If cooking is a common theme for the newly wedded couple, centerpieces can involve crocks with cooking utensils tied with a ribbon, with balloons attached at the top of the utensils. Crocks can be the colors chosen for the wedding theme, and what a nice useful gift for a guest to take home at the end of the reception. Or, favors can be small whisks with a ribbon attached with the bride's and groom's names and the wedding date. If baking is also a love for the couple, cookie cutters can also be given as favors with an attached ribbon with names and dates.

Pinterest Can Help

There are many ways to personalize a wedding reception. If you need more ideas, Pinterest boards are an easy way to find a lot of ideas at once. By Googling the theme you are looking for added to the word Pinterest, you will find a lot of visual ideas you can borrow for your own personalized wedding reception. An example would be, "Basketball Themed Weddings Pinterest." Good luck to you on finding the perfect theme for your wedding reception.

In this photo, one can see small glass shaped starfish and garlands of shells draped around the cake table. These were purchased at the Christmas Tree Shop and can be used for a beach themed wedding, or for a Caribbean cruise theme, as this was used
In this photo, one can see small glass shaped starfish and garlands of shells draped around the cake table. These were purchased at the Christmas Tree Shop and can be used for a beach themed wedding, or for a Caribbean cruise theme, as this was used | Source
This wedding reception used the color blue for a boating theme.
This wedding reception used the color blue for a boating theme. | Source

Wedding Reception Poll

Did you personalize your wedding reception theme?

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© 2013 Karen Hellier


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