If a tropical reception is your desire, know before you start planning that there are many different ways to bring the tropics to your venue other than dumping sand on the ground and dressing up in grass skirts. A tropical wedding reception is perfect for the summer months but can also be executed in the dead of winter.
Bring the tropics to your reception by having a luau. Purchase leis and assign someone the task of giving one to each guest upon their arrival. String white lights in trees or around lamp posts and include brilliant reds, yellows and pinks for your floral decor. Offer fruity drinks like a Mai Tai or Hawaiian Sunset along with a pupu platter of small meats and seafood appetizers, fresh fruit, live music and ring tiki torches around the reception area. With these few simple touches, you and your guests will feel as if you have been transported to the islands for an evening.
If your reception will take place in the winter or in a location where being outside is not an option, bring the tropics indoors. Lay palm fronds, real or artificial, on the buffet or dessert table and offer fruity, colorful drinks with umbrella straws. Place large, artificial palm trees around the edges of the room and use scooped out pineapples filled with fresh cut fruit skewers as fun appetizer and halved coconuts as bread baskets. Large, brightly colored flowers, like hibiscus or orchids, as the guest table centerpiece will also help bring out the tropics.
If you love the tropics but want a sophisticated reception, select one bright color, like pink, and one or two symbols of what you feel represents the tropics. For instance, use a palm tree and an orchid for your symbols. Decorate your reception location with lots of white with pink as your accent color. As an example, decorate the guest tables with a white table cloth, pink cloth napkins, a small palm tree charm on each water glass and a pair of orchids at the center. Offer a pink cocktail like a Cosmopolitan with white cocktail napkins imprinted with a single pink palm tree and wedding date. For favors, give guests a small jar of seashells or seashell shaped chocolates in a white box wrapped with a pink silk bow.