Your wedding reception isn’t just a place for guests to go and celebrate your wedding, it’s also possibly the first chance the two families have had, to meet each other. This means it needs to have plenty of room for all your guests, as well as provide a suitable ambience for the two families, along with your friends, and of course you, to enjoy this part of your overall big day.
Planning your wedding reception can be a bit overwhelming at first, but if you follow the logical structure detailed below, you’ll find the whole experiences a lot less stressful.
Tip #1: Start sorting the reception as soon as you know your wedding date.
Don’t leave it too late, as venues and entertainment can get booked up well in advance.
Tip #2: Get clear on your budget
The reception part of your wedding can be the biggest expense of the day. Therefore, it’s so important to know your overall budget, before you start thinking of what you’d like at the reception – as it helps narrow down your options.
Tip #3: Clarify what type of reception you want
There are two main types of reception – the sit down and the buffet options. The sit done option is more traditional and involves a sit-down meal. This means it’s more expensive, as there’s more to factor in. The buffet option is more informal, meaning it’s a lot less expensive. Guests still have areas to sit down, but the food is provided as a hot and/or cold informal buffet.
Tip #4: Clarify extras
Next, decide on your extras. These include what type of music you’ll be providing, if you need a DJ, and whether you want a photographer at the evening reception. Other extras included decorations, table favours and gifts for your parents, the wedding party and other helpers.
Tip #5: Narrow down your guest list
When you visit any venues, they’d like to have an idea of possible numbers involved, so it helps to do this, before you visit the venues. Knowing the size of your reception also helps narrow down your choice of venue.
Tip #6: Choose a shortlist of venues
Now you can narrow down your choice of venues, based on the hire costs, your numbers and overall finances. Call to arrange dates to visit them.
Tip #7: Know the basic etiquette of a traditional reception
Decide what traditions you want to include and what’s involved. This can include a welcoming line (the order is: bride’s parents, groom’s parents, bride & groom, maid of honour, bridesmaids), being introduced as you arrive, the speeches and toasts (usually held during the 1st & 2nd courses of your meal). The bride & groom can opt to speak before cutting cake, but you need to decide if you’re going to serve cake as part of the dessert or give it to guests as parting gifts (as this helps dictate when you’ll need to cut the cake), and the first dance is usually held after everyone has eaten.
Tip #8: Visit venues and make final decision
Now you can visit all the venues, check they have space for all you need and make your final decision.
Tip #9:Decide on the food
You know your numbers, now you need to decide on the food options. How many courses would you like? Can they provide vegetarian & dietary restriction options? Are you opting for buffet or served, plated (arrives ready done) or French (served by waiters)?
Tip #10:Seating arrangements
Finally, it’s time to make a seating plan. Decide if you want the bride, groom and their families sitting at head of the room, facing guests, as per tradition. You can then group family together and friends with friends, around the room. Remember you’ll also need a table for the cake – somewhere you can easily get to, to make cutting the cake easier for you both!