It’s what everybody is most excited for! And the open bar is only part of that.

Receptions are what I consider the backbone of a good wedding. They always vary, from raucous dancing to intimate toasts and performances by friends to a chat- and hors d’oeuvres-filled evening. The requirement is that they mean something to the couple and everyone has a good time. And more often than not, the reception will be what guests remember from the big day!

I am not shy in saying that this is always my favorite part of the wedding day. Prep is a great way to start, ceremonies always melt my heart, and portraits are a fun challenge. But a kickass reception is a photography smorgasbord with awesome dance moves, old friends interacting and folks readily clumped together for group shots. Something is always happening, so then I get to just watch and document. These are just a few of my favorite reception moments from cocktail hour to cake cutting.

A couple can get to their reception a million different ways. Limousines are always classy. Classic cars are dope. I have even seen “just married” golf carts and canoes! But last year I especially loved parades fronted by live music. In particular, Sara and Colin boogied through Long Island City with a four piece brass band, while Jean and Maddie stuck to their Scottish heritage with bagpipes.

Cocktail hours are always a great time to get congratulations from your guests, share some laughs and grab a snack. Irving took the celebration to a whole new level though when just after tying the knot he got his dream job offer. Needless to say, everyone found a few more reasons to hug and toast after that!

I usually like to focus on the toast-giver during that portion of the evening, but I always find that the happy couple’s interactions while they’re showered with praise and love are just as great. I mean, don’t you want someone to look at you the way Nana looked at Nabiha? And c’mon with the cuteness Ben and Paul! Save some hope for the rest of us!

A great toast has to have a few laughs, even if they’re at the groom’s expense.

Cheers to happy tears!

Every first dance is special. Sometimes they’re flashy after a few weeks of (often needed) dance lessons. Some brides pick their dress because of how it will move around the dance floor at the start of their reception. Some couples speed around the room with tricks and turns, while others just want a slow and intimate trot. But most still choose to dance to that same damn John Legend song.

Parent-Child dances are always the biggest tear-jerker at a reception.

Once the formalities have been observed, I love when a reception gets lit. Giant dance circles. Brides in Chuck Taylors. Tossing flower girls in the air. Karaoke battles. Whatever floats their boat, I love when my wedding guests go hard.

But seriously, what is better than laughter between family?

“Shout” is the all-time best wedding dance song. Don’t even try to argue. I will fight you.

There’s a lot of pressure around what to do in the cake cutting, and a lot of couples ask me what they should do. I don’t think it’s my place to decide. But, when in doubt, feed your new spouse the entire cake. Then smash it in their face. Then eat it off the ground. Actually scratch that third one.

Cutting a cake with a sword is a great way to end a reception! It’s also a liiiiittle dangerous after a couple of drinks, as is giving all of your guests sparking fire sticks. But the photos are badass and worth it, right?