How to Plan a Church Wedding Reception

a husband and bride kiss at their wedding

Having a church wedding reception has some obvious advantages: the wedding guests don’t need driving directions to another event location, everybody stays together, there tends to be more activities for any little ones involved, and for the curmudgeons, the “ordeal” passes more quickly.

Yet there are some other advantages of planning a church wedding reception not so readily seen.

It Reduces Cost by Limiting the Number of Guests

First, having the reception at the church reduces costs. For instance, the reception hall of a church is usually not as large as a hotel or country club ballroom. That means the number of guests may have to be limited, so plan on that fact at the outset and let all involved in the list making know, too. Many churches insist on time limits for the reception – therefore limiting food and beverage service. A daytime church reception certainly cuts back on any liquor costs, if alcohol is allowed at all. Plan your food and beverage on the time of day you’ve worked out with the church. If the actual ceremony is at 11 a.m., then brunch selections at noon are a great choice. Think of the reception starting approximately an hour after the ceremony and what would be appropriate to serve at that time.

Save by Using Church Staff

Second, plan on working with the “church ladies” or the church staff member responsible for weddings. Plan on rules that a bride or the hired wedding planner must abide by. Actually, while those rules might seem unfair or wrong at first (such as no swaths of fabric on the walls or certain types of flowers, candles, music, etc.), the savvy bride can use the rules to her advantage to tamp down the various opinions of relatives and prospective in-laws. That said, a bride planning a church reception needs to accept the rules and not turn into “Bride-Zilla.”

Be Flexible

Last but not least, don’t plan on just one set day for the wedding and don’t expect to be the only event going on at the church, especially if the wedding and reception are to be at a large city mega-church. Wedding participants need to realize that the church serves a community, not just one bride or wedding party. The most desired date may not be available and there may be another life ceremony taking place at the church on the big day…including another wedding or even a funeral! Regarding the former, it’s not a bad idea to plan on working together with another bride. In the business world, “best practices” are often used and “two veils may be better than one” in planning a great church reception. A relatively simple switch of flowers and some other décor items can save both parties a great deal of money.