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How To Plan A Wedding Reception

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  • Admin
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  • Wedding Reception, Reception Budget, Seating Arrangements
  • Posted date:
  • 23-08-2022
How To Plan A Wedding Reception

Are you looking for advice for how to plan a wedding reception? This guide to planning a wedding reception offers top tips for planning an unforgettable wedding reception.

One of the most important parts of planning a wedding is the reception. In this article we will cover many of the essential aspects to planning a wedding reception.

Guide to Planning a Wedding Reception

Set the wedding date

It is essential that before any planning can begin, you need to set a date for the wedding. Depending on just how far in advance you begin looking for the perfect location for your ceremony, you may find that some venues are fully booked up for over a year in advance.

This means you will either need to move the date to another time or change the location of your wedding ceremony to a different location. The time of year can be a huge factor in the availability of a venue.

The majority of the time, it is much cheaper and easier to plan a winter wedding than it is to have your wedding during the peak wedding season. The most popular day to have a wedding is a Saturday, but considering a Sunday wedding could help you save on your budget.

Determine your reception budget

How To Plan A Wedding Reception

Once you have the date for your wedding set in place, it is time to start thinking about your overall budget.

You will find that most venues will carry a minimum, so this is definitely something you should ask about when looking at site options. 

The location of your reception will also require an estimated number of guests so they can give you a more detailed idea of what the total cost will be.

Decide on the key elements of your reception

Are you planning to have an outdoor or indoor reception?

If you decide to have an outdoor celebration, then you will need to make plans in case rain strikes.

What kind of reception are you planning to have?

By far, the most popular type of reception is a sit-down dinner. But this doesn't mean that there are no other choices. How about a breakfast or brunch reception? You could have a cocktail reception, a luncheon, or even an afternoon tea reception.

Do you want to have a receiving line?

The ultimate benefit of a receiving line is that you can greet all of your guests at once, and it gives the guests an opportunity to congratulate you. However, the major issue is that receiving lines are incredibly time-consuming, and become even more prolonged the more people are at the wedding.

Due to this, most couples these days prefer the method of just visiting each table to say hello and thanks. This is a less formal method and a great alternative to the receiving line.

If you do choose to have a receiving line at your wedding, then the order of the line is traditionally: mother or parents of the bride, mother or parents of the groom, then the bride, groom, maid of honour, and the bridesmaids.

Do you wish to be officially announced when you enter the reception?

A proper traditional announcement can be a very fun way to start off your reception and your evening. Commonly, the announcement will be done either by the reception's DJ or bandleader. You will be announced for the first time as a married couple.

Decide on the key elements of your reception

On some occasions, the introductions can include both the sets of parents as well as the bridal party. You can also have them lined up on the dancefloor, ready to watch the first dance if you choose to go directly into that part of the reception.

Are you planning to have toasts?

Toasts are a great moment for both the wedding couple, as well as their family and other guests. Although, it is best to keep these speeches short and sweet. Traditionally, the speeches are given either during or in between dinner courses.

The speeches should be kept to two or three at a time. Kindly request that anyone who is planning to give a toast should keep it on the short side. You could even assign someone in your wedding party to keep an eye on the time when the speeches are taking place.

Finally, the wedding couple should say a few words of thanks before the wedding cake is cut.

When should the dancing begin?

It is common these days for the dancing to begin sometime after the dinner has been finished, rather than having dance sets in between the courses. When it comes to music choices, aside from the first dance, be sure to pick out some music that every guest will enjoy providing some variety for all ages.

What kind of photos would you like to be done?

The reception is the perfect opportunity to get plenty of fantastic photos for the wedding album. So take the time to think about any groupings of people that might not be possible at the earlier stages of the day. You can also let your photographer know if there are any specific details shots you would like of the reception space.

Are you planning to do a bouquet or garter toss?

The bouquet or garter toss is fantastic fun and a great traditional way to get your guests involved in the reception proceedings. Although, these days, many couples choose to skip this part of the reception.

Make seating arrangements 

If you are having a sit-down dinner at your reception, then the arrangement of the seating can be quite a mammoth task. For this reason, we would recommend getting an early start on the seating arrangements.

Make seating arrangements - Plan A Wedding Reception

  • It is commonplace for the bride and groom to sit either alone at their own "sweetheart table" that faces the guests, or they can sit with the rest of the bridal party at a larger table. Although, some couples prefer to have their table placed amongst all the guests to have a more modern and less formal feeling to the event.
  • Parents of the wedding couple will sit together with their close family and friends at their respective tables.
  • It is crucial to think about any elderly people attending the wedding, as well as their placement in the venue. Be careful not to seat them next to any speakers or in a location deemed inconvenient for any other reason.
  • The most formal way to arrange seating at a wedding reception is through place cards. Place cards are a great option for anyone who is concerned about placing people next to each other who might not know each other too well, so they can be very helpful for the guests as well.
  • The other common method of arranging seats is through escort cards. These cards will have just the name and table number printed on them. This method allows guests to choose their own seats at the table.

Decide on your reception menu

For many wedding couples, as well as their invited guests, food is one of the most important and exciting parts of the reception. The food at a wedding is one of the aspects that is remembered for many years after the event.

This means you must be careful with the planning of your meal. Below are some helpful tips that might make the process easier and a little less stressful

Selecting the food

Choosing a menu for your reception should be something you are looking forward to. It is your opportunity to offer your guests something truly special, but it is important to remember that some of your guests may have dietary restrictions.

This is something you should discuss with your chosen caterer to find out possible workarounds and other options. We would recommend finding out from your guests in advance whether they have any allergies or special requirements.

If you are having a sit-down dinner, it is common to have printed menus available at the table.

Next, you need to make a decision on whether you will be using a buffet-style system, or if plated meals will be served to the table. There are other options available as well, such as food stations or family-style plating. You should discuss all these options with your caterer.

Make a decision on where the wedding cake will be placed and when it will be cut

Commonly you will find a small separate cake table for placing the cake on top, and you also need to decide when the cake will be cut.

Determine if you want the wedding cake to be part of the dessert course, or if guests will take a piece of cake home with them at the end of the night.

The cake can be cut whenever the caterers are ready to serve the dessert course. Some couples will have the wedding cake cut right after dinner, or even earlier in the evening so that there are no interruptions in the wedding dancing.

Another alternative is to have the cake an hour before the end of the reception. Ensure that the photographer is clued into the plans so that they are ready to capture the cake-cutting moment when the time comes.

Top Tips for Planning an Unforgettable Wedding Reception

Consider Your Guests

When you begin the planning process, you should think about how you can make your guests as comfortable as possible.

Consider elements such as easy parking and baby changing facilities for those with children. Just small things that will ensure your guests are relaxed and happy.

Easy Entertainment

It is important to include wedding entertainment that the guests will be able to join in with whenever they want.

Many people love weddings because it is an opportunity to chat with friends and family, so whatever entertainment you have planned, don't force the guests to join in.

Food and Drink are Important

One of the main elements of a wedding that will be remembered, even years after the event, is the food and drink.

No one at a wedding wants to be hungry or thirsty so you need to structure your menu in a way that means there is plenty to be looking forward to.

Guests will likely be feeling a little peckish after your main ceremony, especially if they've been up early or been travelling.

If you are planning on dancing late into the early hours of the morning, then snacks will certainly be needed to keep everyone going. 

Guests Need Time

Ensure that the schedule for your guests has plenty of allowance for buffer time. This means that the guests will not feel rushed, and there will be enough time for relaxed fun and plenty of conversation.

Nobody likes to feel like they are being hurried around at a wedding or that sticking to a strict time plan is more important than enjoying the day.

Creating An Atmosphere

To create the perfect atmosphere at your wedding, you need to get people to relax. Set the mood with music that will get people dancing and chatting.

In the evening, the lighting can be changed to something more fitting and music can be played louder.

Be Careful With Suppliers

Suppliers can have a huge impact on whether your wedding reception is a success or a failure. So be sure to choose your suppliers carefully. You can ask your venue for recommendations as well as do your own research.

It is important that everyone you book for your wedding suits your style and understands what you want for your special day. Make sure the suppliers can provide what you want before you make an agreement and sign on the dotted line.

We hope this article helped you plan the perfect wedding reception. Are you planning a wedding in Suffolk or Essex? We offer a beautiful Tudor wedding venue located between Ipswich and Colchester.

Follow the link below to find out more about booking our wedding venue in Hadleigh, Essex.