Organizing Your Wedding Reception

The best way to ensure that you enjoy your wedding day is to plan, schedule, and organize. Since your reception is supposed to be a big party that everyone enjoys, you should carefully select your location, menu, beverages, and decorations. This article will give you some checklists that will help you choose your location, and will also cover questions that people often forget to ask. Hopefully, with these and a few other creative ideas, you can make your reception perfect and fun for everybody.

Once you have a location for your reception in mind, you should visit the site and make a detailed inspection of it. You should focus on:

  • Options for a children’s room
  • Space for a band or a DJ
  • Entrances and exits
  • Stairs and elevators
  • Restrooms

You should also try to visualize the layout of the serving tables and the bride’s table. Because everyone will be dressed up, and this is a joyous occasion, it is important to know who and what you will be walking past as you enter and exit the location. Hint: High heels and grass don’t mix. You definitely want rest rooms close by, and having an extra room for bored children could be a godsend. They can play with each other and a couple of attentive parents, and no one will have to listen to crying children.

Once you have decided on a location, ask the following questions:

  • What items are included in the offered wedding packages?
  • Will we have to share any rooms? If so, what type of dividers will be in place?
  • Are there any restrictions for candles, decorations, etc.?
  • Can we use our own wedding coordinator? Is there an in-house wedding planner?
  • What is the cost for extending the reception?
  • Are gratuities included in the given price?
  • What will the parking arrangements be?
  • Will there be rooms available for portraits?

These questions should help you make sure that there aren’t any hidden costs, and you don’t get any unwelcome surprises the day of your reception. Parking and directions, for example, will be very important to your guests, and it’s always good to know what to expect. Remember, if you don’t like the answers you get, don’t sign anything. You can always choose a different location.

If the venue for your reception is also catering your event, you should also ask:

  • What is served at the cocktail hour and during the reception? Is there an open bar?
  • What is the cost? What is included in that cost?
  • Are substitutions allowed?
  • Are flatware, dinnerware and glassware provided?
  • What does a sample place setting look like? What table linen colors are available?
  • Is insurance against china and crystal breakage included?
  • Will they make a cake or could one be ordered from an outside baker?
  • What are the costs for buffet service vs. table service?
  • What is the guest-to-staff ratio for the table and buffet service?

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, you should focus on how to make your reception as enjoyable as possible. It ’s important that you and your groom have plenty of time to spend with your guests so that you can make sure they are having a good time and thank them for attending. The best way to make sure you are able to mix and mingle is to have several friends form a hospitality committee.

You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to create this committee. In advance, ask your closest (and most reliable) friends if they would be willing to help you during the reception. Remember to be gracious about it and to make it clear that they can decline without hurting your feelings. If they don’t want to be on the committee, they probably won’t do a good job. You should plan their duties ahead of time and write them down to avoid confusion.

Start by creating a floor plan that shows where the receiving line, buffet tables, cakes, beverages, and the guest book will be. If you are having a very large wedding, you should have the hospitality committee work in shifts so everyone has time to enjoy the reception. Some of the duties that you may want to delegate are:

  • Greeting guests as they arrive and showing them where to hang coats
  • Reminding guests to sign the Guest Book
  • Handing out beverages to the waiting receiving line
  • Serving the wedding cake
  • Serving beverages at the buffet table
  • Handling gifts and gift cards

Now that you have a plan for taking care of the basics and the last-minute details, you will be free to focus on the fun stuff – decorations, menu selections, and the cake.