how to plan a wedding reception
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How to Plan A Wedding Reception
How to Plan a Wedding
Planning your wedding reception can take a lot of effort and it
all begins with deciding on the location of the reception and
the type of reception. Fear not, it's a fairly methodical process
provided you're aware of which things need to be covered and
what's more, you can have a lot of fun with it too!
1 Set the date for your wedding before you actually start
looking for locations for the reception. Keep in mind that
many sites are booked a year or even two in advance, so you
may need to fine tune the date decision dependent on the
availability of your desired reception location, or be ready to
change to a different reception venue.
Budgeting for the reception
1 Set down your budget. This is the next big thing, since
planning your wedding reception will bring forth the biggest
expense. When you go to rent the reception hall, you'll have
to give a rounded figure of approximately how
many guests you're likely to have. Therefore, an important
part of any planning of the wedding reception involves pruning
down your reception list; this will also bring about an
estimation of the costs per head, according to the size of the
room and your requirements too.
Deciding on key elements of a reception
1 Decide whether you will have an indoor or an outdoor
reception. Obviously, if want an outdoor event, you'll have to
consider the possibility of rain ruining your plan, therefore,
keep a hidden ace up your sleeve just in case.
The season is crucial, particularly if you're on a tight budget.
Planning your wedding reception in winter, at the end of
January for instance, will save money or earn you a discount.
In some cases, planning your wedding reception requires you
choose between Saturday and Sunday as the most
convenient days of the week; sometimes Sunday is less
2 Decide on the type of reception you'd like to
have. Nowadays the two main types of reception are sit-down
meal or cocktail party, but other variants such as picnics, a
simple cake-cutting, or a beach reception might also appeal.
Here are some things to consider in relation to different
Sit-down: It's traditional, guests tend to really appreciate it and
it works well for speeches. On the downside, it can feel stuffy
and over-planned. It can also be the most expensive option.
Cocktail reception: It's hip and modern, and it's also enjoyed a
lot by guests. It may cost a lot less than a sit-down, but it can
suffer from feeling a bit disorganized and hard to gain the
attention of guests for cake cutting and toasts.
Picnic: Great for nature-loving couples, and easy to arrange
catering can be done using your local favorite sandwich place.
Since it's outdoors, there can be a risk of rain and some
people might find this too informal for a wedding.
Simple cake cutting: For those leaving the registry office, a
simple affair of cutting a cake in the foyer, or in a local cafe or
even at home might be enough to finish up the occasion with
friends who have attended it. This tends to be suitable for very
small parties and for people who really didn't want to have
any reception fuss at all. Have tea, coffee, and few cookies or
cupcakes as well.
Beach or yacht reception: Like a picnic, this is outdoors and
risks a change of weather but it can be a lot of fun and make
for beautiful photos. Again, it may be too informal for some
and sand or water may definitely get everywhere!
3 Consider whether or not you'll have a receiving line. On
the positive side, this can provide an opportunity to greet all
guests and allows everyone to feel they've had the chance to
congratulate you. On the downside, it can take a lot of time
and it can begin to feel tiring for those on it. Some guests may
also detest the formality of this and having to wait in line.
Having divorced parents can also make this an awkward
decision for some.
If you do have one, this is the order: Bride's mother or
parents, groom's mother or parents, bride, groom, maid of
honor, then bridesmaids.
4 Consider whether you'd like to be announced as you
enter the reception. This can be a lot of fun and can be done
simply and easily by the DJ or bandleader, saying something
like "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the newlyweds
Bob and Billie (or Mr and Mrs)", and you can then take your
places for dinner.
5 Decide when to have the toasts and plan to keep
them short. While these are both traditional and wonderful,
they're a pain when they're too long, too maudlin, rude, or just
plain dull. Make the toasts during or between dinner courses,
with two or three people speaking each time.
Ask all toasters to keep it short and have someone in the
wedding party time keep - and be strict about it too.
The bride and groom can speak just before cutting the cake.
6 Decide when dancing will occur. Nowadays most weddings
tend to leave the dancing until all courses are finished rather
than having dances between courses. Besides your special
song, be sure to have songs people will really want to dance
to, not strange songs that only suit the taste of a few.
Does the bride wish to dance with her father? You could have
a father and daughter dance session included.
7 Organize the photography of the reception. You will want
reception photos as much as the ceremony photos. Organize
pictures with family and friends, in special groups or at certain
Do you want guests to take photos too? They could each be
asked to email digital photos of the evening that they've
taken; give them a central wedding photo email set up just for
8 Consider whether you wish to have any other ceremonial
aspects. For example, you might wish to have the garter belt
removal tradition in front of the guests. And you might wish to
throw the flowers at your reception, as per tradition.
Sorting out the seating
1 Work out seating. If you're planning a sit-down dinner,
seating can grow to be a bit of headache so it pays to focus
on it early enough.
The bride and groom can sit at the dais or raised platform at
whatever goes for being the "front" of the room. The bridal
party sits with them and they all face the rest of the room. This
is not as popular as it once was, as placing the table amid the
guests is beginning to take on a more acceptable and modern
Parents tend to be seated with other, or they can have
respective family and friends at their tables.
Elderly people shouldn't be seated too near anything that
Consider using place cards to help people know where they're
going to sit. It's not essential but it can be very helpful. In
doing this, take great pains to avoid seating people who don't
get along next to one another
Planning the food
1 Choose the food. There will always be some people with
dietary restrictions, so be prepared to provide vegetarian,
gluten-free, and other variants as needed. It's a good idea to
have asked guests in advance for advice concerning allergies.
A cocktail reception will usually on have nibbles and finger
foods but still have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian
options available. Decide how many courses you want for a
sit-down dinner and be sure to check this against your budget.
Sit-down dinners usually have menus printed up for them.
The method of food service needs to be decided - buffet style
(help yourself) or serving at a table? There are also variants
such as placing larger servings on the table for guests to help
themselves from (family - or Russian service if the waiter
holds the food), or plated (arrives at table already done), or
French (waiters serve at the table), etc.
2 Choose where the wedding cake will be placed during the
reception. Decide when it will be cut.
Do you want guests to share the cake as part of dessert or to
take a piece home instead? Perhaps both?
Ensure that the photographer is organized to take a photo of
you cutting the cake.
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