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Wedding reception

A wedding reception is a party held after the completion of a marriage ceremony. Some sort of post-marriage party is traditional in most societies around the world, but with considerable variety on the details.

In most Western countries, following a meal with copious quantities of food and alcohol (traditionally paid for by the bride's family and known as the Wedding breakfast) speeches are made by members of the wedding party wishing the couple well in the future. Traditionally, the speaking parties include bride's father, the best man (who usually slips in a few hopefully good-natured jokes at the couple's expense), and then finally the groom. In the modern U.S., speeches are more often given by the best man and the maid of honor.

After the speeches, the bride and groom begin the "bridal waltz" (though in most contemporary weddings a recent romantic pop song is played and the bride and groom's dance is rarely an actual waltz). After that, the dancing continues until the bride and groom leave in a car "decorated" by the couple's friends.

Wedding traditions vary considerably between countries, and even between regions of the same countries. Some traditions include:

The money dance or dollar dance, at which guests pay a small amount of money to dance with the bride or groom. In some cultures, the money is pinned to a special apron worn by the bride. In others, the money is collected by friends, who sometimes give a shot of alcohol to each guest as they pay. This tradition is common in the U.S. Midwest, but considered tacky in other regions.

Tossing of the bride's bouquet and garter. The bride tosses her bouquet over her shoulder to a group of all the single women present. Whoever catches it is supposed to be the next to get married. Similarly, the groom tosses the bride's garter to the single men, often after removing it from her leg, to the amusement of the guests. Sometimes the man who catches the garter is supposed to put it on the leg of the woman who catches the bouquet. Sometimes the garter is sold in a raffle instead of being tossed. In some regions of the U.S., this is considered tacky.

Clinking of the glasses: Guests will often clink their glasses during dinner to ask the newlyweds to stand up and kiss. Some couples pass out bells for guests to ring instead of clinking glasses.

In Chinese societies, the wedding reception is known as qing-ke (literally to invite guests). The timing and the characteristics of the reception varies strongly from locale to locale. They are typically extremely elaborate and expensive often costing several years salary of the bride's family. However because cash in the form of red packets and jewelry (particularly gold) are given as wedding presents, and because the wedding hosts keep very careful track of the cost of the gifts (jewelry is given with a receipt which indicates the actual cost of the gift), the cost of the reception is effectively split among the wedding guests. Wedding receptions also build local community solidarity. As each couple weds, their wedding reception is in effect financed with gifts from the other members of the community with the expectation that the new couple and their family will give gifts in future wedding receptions within the village.