So, you’re in the beginning stages of planning your wedding and reception. First of all, congratulations! It’s no secret that planning your wedding reception can be a challenge. In fact, over half of couples consider elopement at some point during the planning process.
That said, with a little bit of organization, you can stay on top of the details and have fun while you plan the most beautiful day of your life.
To help you do so, we’ve compiled this guide to planning the ultimate wedding reception! We’ll give you all the steps you need to take to make organizing your reception a piece of cake:
Let’s get started!
Set a Budget
The first step in planning a wedding reception is to set a budget. You need to know how much you’re willing and able to pay overall so that you can allocate that amount to different aspects of the party.
Each vendor should be able to give you an estimate of what they charge before you work with them so you can compare before signing any contracts. The cost of both the venue and the vendors can vary greatly depending on the time of year and even the day of the week.
For example, a great way to save money is to host your wedding on a Friday or Sunday instead of a Saturday, where you’ll find peak prices. Additionally, consider getting married in the off-season (December to March).
Winter weddings are absolutely gorgeous and often far less expensive than those in spring or fall.
Choose Your Venue
Once you know your budget, it’s time to choose the venue. Although it can be tempting to pick a venue on aesthetics alone, it’s important to be practical in your decision. The most beautiful venue in the world won’t keep your guests happy if the restroom situation is subpar.
Consider parking, restrooms, temperature, and space in relation to your guest list when shopping wedding reception venues. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, be sure to have a backup plan in case of inclement weather. The last thing you want is for everyone to be caught in the rain with nowhere to go.
Nail Down the Details
With your venue decided, you can begin to focus on smaller details. What kind of reception do you envision? Are your guests enjoying breakfast, dinner, or afternoon tea?
Every detail of the schedule and layout should be decided upon long before the party itself. Have a rough idea of when you want everything to happen, including the bridal party announcement, the toasts, dancing, dinner (or other meal), and bouquet or garter toss.
Now, when you’re planning your day-of schedule, you need to stay flexible. If dinner is a few minutes late, it’s okay! Something is bound to go slightly awry during the big day, it’s best to let small things roll off your back.
If you feel lost with the layout or seating arrangement, using a wedding reception layout tool can be a huge help!
Good Food is Crucial
The food you serve at the reception is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle. Yes, the day is about you and your partner, but your guests came a long way to celebrate with you – they deserve a good meal!
There should be something for everyone at the meal. It’s best if you can survey your guests beforehand to discover any dietary restrictions or food allergies. But when in doubt, it’s best to at least provide a vegetarian option.
You’ll also need to decide what kind of cake you want and where you want it to rest during the reception. Chances are, your cake will be on display for a good portion of the festivities. Also, ensure your photographer has a copy of the itinerary so that he or she knows when to prepare to snap a few photos of the cake cutting.
The second most important element of a wedding reception is the entertainment. Once your guests have finished their meals, it’s a good idea to have an activity or two for them to enjoy for the remainder of the party.
The most common source of entertainment is music. You can hire a band, a DJ, or create your own wedding playlist for the day. If your guests will be dancing, make sure the dance floor is big enough to accommodate everyone!
On top of providing music, consider bringing in a photo booth, karaoke, or even a caricature artist! Your reception should be a reflection of you and your partner. Whatever wedding reception ideas the two of you think you and your guests would enjoy most is what you should have.
Hire the Right Professionals
Even the most meticulous planning requires the help of the right professionals to bring those plans to life. Take your time to find the perfect photographer, videographer, caterer, and entertainer. They should not only have a catalog of work that fits what you’re looking for but gel well with you.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time talking to your vendors, it’s important that you get along with them! Not to mention, vendors who understand you and what you’re looking for will be more likely to give you exactly what you want on the day.
Use This Guide to Host the Ultimate Wedding Reception
Remember, when planning your wedding reception, the most important thing is to keep perspective. You’re planning a party in which you’ll celebrate the start of your life with someone you love with all of your friends and family there to support you.
Don’t get so caught up in the stress of planning that you forget to enjoy the process! Take planning step-by-step and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your future spouse, friends, or bridal party along the way.
For more tips on creating the perfect wedding for you and your guests, be sure to take a look at our blog!