Planning Tips

Wedding Reception Planning Tips

The wedding ceremony makes it legal. It’s the wedding receptions that people really look forward to after the “official” proceedings are complete.

The wedding day has been a pressure cooker. Now though, the vows have been said, the rings have been exchanged and it’s time to party to relieve the pressure, and for the guests, each in their own fashion, to extend their blessings to the newly married couple.

Though all of the wedding has required extensive planning, it is normally the wedding reception that takes up the greater proportion of our planning time.

In this article I list some of the many things that have to be considered when planning your reception. Each of the items will merit, in time, their own article, and will be available on this website.

Reception Venues
Choosing your wedding reception venue is going to be one of the major decisions that will need to be made on this whole wedding journey. You will need to be realistic about your reception venue particularly as it applies to fitting the cost within your wedding budget.

Guest Books & Displays
When planning a wedding reception the wants and needs of your guests are important. Wedding displays and guest books give your guests information about the wedding couple, and items of interest to occupy them while they await the proceedings at the hall.

Receiving Lines & Welcoming Guests
Start your wedding reception off on the right foot by giving adequate thought to the receiving line. Will there be one? If so, where will it be, and who will be in it? How will guests be greeted when they arrive at the reception hall?

Wedding Seating Plan
Will guests be seated formally or casually? Will there be a head table or not? How will guests find their table if it’s a bit more formal reception?

Wedding gifts
Do you expect goods or cash / cheque type wedding gifts? How will you handle them? Will there be a gift table? Will that table have a box to deposit envelopes? Who will be delegated to ensure that the gifts (all of them) are secure during and after the wedding reception?

Decorations, cakes and centerpieces
Will you have your wedding cake on display? Will the wedding cake be cut at the reception or will precut portions be available? How will it be distributed? Will each table have a centerpiece? What happens to the centerpiece after the reception?

The wedding reception meal has to reflect the taste wishes of the bride and groom, their desire to please their guests, and all to be within the wedding budget. Will there be a “lunch” served towards the end of the reception, or a sweet table of sorts?

Alcohol, if included at no cost to the guests, will be a huge expense. Do you provide it at no cost? How about giving tickets to the guests allowing two free drinks and then a cash bar? Don’t forget lots of coffee and/or tea or soft drinks for the non-alcohol drinkers.

Photographs and Photographers
Who is the photographer? If a professional, will they be at the reception and require a meal? Who owns the negatives from the photos (assuming they aren’t all digital)? If it’s “Uncle Fred” doing the photos, who is his backup if he doesn’t arrive on wedding day? What about videos, movies, with sound or without?

Master of Ceremonies
Will you have one? Who will perform that service for you if you want one? Can that person actually be “in command” of a large group of people to ensure that things proceed as you wish at your reception? The Master of Ceremonies should be comfortable with public speaking.

Speeches and toasts
Who is giving them, when during the reception, and what are the guidelines? Do you really want “Cousin Tommy” to be telling ribald tales out of school? If you don’t want nasty surprises in the speeches, make sure you know what’s in them before alcohol and excitement leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouths from a speech made in poor taste.

Music and dancing
Live band or DJ? How loud to you want the music? What music types do you wish played for specific guests, if any? If a DJ is your choice, will you select a professional or someone “helping out with the music”? Inspect what you expect to be sure you’re not disappointed with the music at your reception.

Special dances
Who has special dances, when do they happen, and are all folks having one made aware of that fact?

Cutting the cake, throwing the bouquet and garter and other traditions
What standard or special traditions would you like to have occur at your reception? Don’t be bound by tradition. If there are traditional family ceremonies, trot them out at the reception.

Changing clothes
Will the bride change during the evening? If so where will her outfit be kept, and who will look after the wedding dress at the end of the wedding reception?

A delightful tradition. If you decide to provide gifts for the guests, what will it/they be, and how will they be disbursed? Watch your budget!

Driving home
Whoops, Cousin Tommy’s had way too much to drink. Now what? Who is delegated to help ensure that drivers don’t leave your reception while illegally under the influence? This is not a trifling matter. Significant legal and financial penalties could occur under the wrong circumstances. Protect yourself.

Cleaning up
Who does? What responsibilities are the hall staff’s, and which are the wedding planners? What happens to left over food, drink, the wedding gifts, lost & found items.

The Art of Wedding Reception Seating Arrangements

Frequently Asked Questions about Wedding Receptions

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