For most people, their wedding reception is the most important and expensive party they throw.
Insider asked wedding professionals what reception trends and traditions couples can ignore to save money and stress.
Skip individual seat cards in favor of a large seating plan
Award-winning master of the wedding ceremony Artem Lomaz told Insider that place cards can add unnecessary expense, clutter and confusion to a reception.
“Place cards are often lost or mislabeled and leave guests unsure of where to sit,” he said.
Instead, create a seating plan that’s easy to customize and allows guests to orient themselves in the space.
Champagne toast can be a waste of money
Lovely Day Events wedding planner Lindsey Nickel told Insider couples should avoid handing out champagne flutes and allow guests to toast with the drinks they already have.
“This will save you a tremendous amount of money, as guests often only take a few sips of champagne and leave the rest behind,” she said.
If you are determined to gift champagne, try serving it in shallow cups rather than flutes to reduce waste.
Trendy food walls can be unsanitary and unnecessary
The food-wall trend – where couples put up a wall of edible decor like donuts or candy – tends to look better on Instagram than in real life.
“After the first guests grab the desired pieces, the novelty wears off and you end up with stale snacks hanging on a wall,” Lomaz said. “And if your reception is outside, the food can attract wildlife or insects.”
Avoid perishable decorations by offering a photo op with draped fabric or hanging plants instead.
Planning a road trip can reduce your time with your guests
Renting a luxury car to make a grand outing to your reception can be expensive and lead to missed opportunities to connect with guests.
“Getaway cars can be great for photos, but couples often feel rushed to leave and can’t say goodbye to guests,” Nickel told Insider.
Instead, the wedding planner recommended using that money for the bar tab at the reception after-party.
Fireworks can be smoky and dangerous
Fireworks are an exciting way to end a wedding, but they can be loud, smoky, and dangerous for the environment.
“Air and noise pollution created by fireworks can wreak havoc on the local environment and interfere with animal life,” Lomaz said.
If you want something similar, try handing out glow sticks or sparklers (with safety presentations) to guests.
A giant wedding cake is neither necessary nor profitable
“A huge cake isn’t necessary, especially since the high price of a large, elaborate wedding cake often surprises couples,” Nickel told Insider.
Instead, order a cupcake to cut from reception and serve up a sheet cake or have a dessert bar for guests.
A long line of speeches can be boring for guests
Wedding and event planner Keith Willards told Insider that most receptions don’t need more than a toast or two.
“A long list of speeches or toasts can bore guests,” he said. “At least half of your guests won’t know each other, which means long-term personal reflections won’t be appreciated.”
Willard also said toasts should ideally take under three minutes and be given by senior members of the wedding party, such as the bridesmaid or father of the bride.
Guests usually end up giving up their favors
“Personalized favors can often seem forced,” Nickel said. “Plus, the majority of favors are usually left by the guests.”
If you really like favors, consider something consumable like chocolates or jars of local honey.
You must not serve more than 3 dishes at the reception
Even if you and your partner are foodies, a wedding reception isn’t the best time for a seven-course dining experience.
“Don’t sit your guests on four or more dishes,” Willards said. “A long meal takes time and keeps guests from letting go and having fun at your wedding.”
Focus on choosing an amazing main course and interesting appetizers for the cocktail hour.
Dance floor props may look out of place next to carefully chosen backdrop
Wedding photographer Amy Kolodziej told Insider that dance floor props can take a toll on the elegance of a wedding reception.
“Strobe headwear and neon glow sticks very rarely match the vibe for the rest of the wedding day,” she said.
The photographer suggested serving a signature cocktail or a fun snack instead at the reception.
Bouquet and suspender throws may alienate some guests
The bouquet and suspender throws are long-standing wedding traditions that can make some guests uncomfortable.
“Unless you’re getting married young or before most of your friends, asking your guests to identify as single can be awkward,” Kolodziej said.
Skipping the raffle can also save money by eliminating the need for an extra bouquet.