Outside of your ceremony, your wedding reception is the next big step in your festivities. Therefore, it’s important to plan it carefully. You can get the reception of your dreams by following a step-by-step plan. If you’re planning a wedding, you should check out a complete guide to planning a wedding reception for great suggestions.
Set Your Wedding Date
The first step to planning a wedding reception is selecting your wedding date. Your date creates the framework for all wedding activities and narrows down your venue options. Therefore, it’s essential to plan early. Depending on the time of year and day of the wedding, some reception venues may be booked. Therefore, you should start looking for possible venues as soon as you set your date. Once you select your venue, reserve it as soon as possible. This will give you the green light to start your reception planning.
Determine Your Reception Budget
Once you select your date, you should start thinking about your reception budget. A budget will help you keep track of costs and determine the elements for your festivities. For example, an open bar, DJ, and a plated meal may not be feasible. You can look at your budget and determine what things you want to stay or change. Instead, maybe a cash bar, DJ, and family-style meal fits your budget better. Ultimately, your budget is a great tool to help you navigate total reception costs.
Send Out Save-The-Dates
When you set your date and venue, it’s essential to send out save-the-date cards to your guests. Not only will this keep a headcount of attendees, but your guests will have an extra reminder for your special day. If you’re planning your wedding a year in advance, you can send out your save-the-date cards six to eight months before your wedding day. This will give your guests enough time to prepare for the festivities.
Pick Your Meal Options
A key component to your wedding reception is the meal. After your ceremony, guests will join in eating a meal and further celebrate the newlyweds. During the planning process, it’s important to select your food options. Some reception venues provide a catering service, whereas others only provide the reception space. Early on, determine your catering option. Then, it’s time to create a menu. It’s best to offer a variety of options for your guests to enjoy.
Once you select a menu, it’s essential to think about serving styles. First, ask yourself, “How do I want my guests to eat?” Then, consider different serving styles.
Types of Serving Styles
- Plated – All guests will receive an induvial meal from catering attendants or servers.
- Portion-controlled buffet – Attendants will serve guests their preferred food options from a buffet.
- Self-serve buffet – Guests serve themselves a meal from a line of food options.
- Stations – Various food choices will be in designated areas, and guests can select different meal options.
- Family style – Guests will serve themselves food from serving dishes on their tables.
Don’t Forget About Dessert
Although your meal is a big part of the reception, don’t forget about dessert. Wedding cake is a traditional dessert option, but you can serve alternative options like cupcakes, brownies, or other sweet treats. It’s also important to have proper dinnerware for your desserts. You can use disposable cake plates and utensils for all dessert options.
Think About Table Settings
Table settings can emphasize the ambiance of your wedding reception because it’s a decorative area. You can decorate your tables with specific colors and themes that coincide with your wedding. First, however, you must think about dinnerware.
Depending on your serving style, you may want a fully set table with multiple pieces of dinnerware or a table setting with simple pieces. For example, if you choose a buffet style of serving, you only need plates and the necessary utensils. Whereas if you choose a plated meal, you can choose a more elaborate table setting.
Make Seating Arrangements
Seating arrangements are an essential component of your reception. When guests arrive, they need to know where they are sitting. Once you receive a layout of the reception space, you can take a headcount of guests and arrange them at tables. It’s also important to make seating arrangements for yourself and the wedding party. For example, you can choose a “sweetheart” table, where the newlywed couple faces their guests. A large table for the wedding party is also near the sweetheart table. On the reception day, make sure you finalize the seating arrangements by placing name cards on banquet tables.
Select Your Entertainment
During your reception, guests can mingle and enjoy a conversation. However, it’s always fun to provide entertainment. Many wedding receptions rely on music and dancing as the main entertainment source, but you can get creative. For example, you can hire a tarot card reader, set up a photo booth, or provide games for your guest. Ultimately, you can choose anything that you and your guests would enjoy.
Create a Reception Schedule
All wedding receptions are under a time constraint. Whether it’s the venue’s selected hours or your preferred reception times, it’s important to create a schedule. This will allow you to enjoy the festivities for a set amount of time. Here is an example of a reception schedule:
- 5 pm-5:30 pm – Guests arrive at the reception venue
- 5:45 pm – Newlyweds make their entrance
- 6:00 pm – Catering will begin serving the meal
- 6:30 pm-7:30 pm – Guests will eat their meal
- 7:45 pm- Couple will cut the wedding cake and start the festivities
- 8 pm- 10 pm – Guests can enjoy music and dancing
- 10:30 pm – Reception ends
Show Appreciation To Your Guests
Whether it’s a speech, gift, or card, it’s always best to show appreciation to your guests. You want to thank everyone for supporting you and celebrating your special day. Before the reception is over, make sure your guests know you appreciate them. For example, you can say, “I would like to thank everyone for coming and celebrating us on our new chapter of life. You all truly made this a special day.” You can also send follow-up thank you cards in the mail.
Your wedding reception is a big event outside of your ceremony. Therefore, it’s important to plan it carefully. If you’re organizing a reception, we hope our complete guide to planning a wedding reception was helpful to you. If you’re interested in dinnerware for your reception, you should consider Posh Party Supplies. We’re a top supplier of elegant disposable dinnerware. Browse through our selection of dinnerware options today!