Ah, the time to plan an unforgettable wedding reception is at hand. This is supposed to be the carefree and fun post-ceremony celebration that will leave your guests saying admirable things about your wedding for years to come.
You survived making it to the venue on time, managed to get down the aisle in one piece and remembered your vows. You got through your version of the receiving line and spent hours with the photographer. By the time the anticipated reception begins, most people are ready for some great food and groovy music to kick off the evening.
Besides the Groom finally being able to loosen his tie a bit and the Bride finally being able to let her hair down, there are a few details to consider in order to keep you and your guests happy and entertained.
Having a zillion people milling about during cocktail hour, unsure where they should be going, which way the bathroom is and where they will be sitting for the night can create chaos. Have a seating plan posted at the entryway to your reception hall.
If you have a DJ or MC hosting your wedding, ask them to make a few announcements. Letting the guests know where the washrooms are located, where they are allowed to enjoy a celebratory cigar and where they are sitting for the night can keep the atmosphere smooth and relaxed.
If you are having a gift table or a special mailbox/birdhouse/wicker basket for receiving cards; ensure the area is well marked and that the guests are informed. If you have ushers greeting guests at the reception, have them pass on these details when they see Aunt Edna struggling with a cumbersome gift. Your guests will feel comfortable and attended to if the basic details are covered.
Additional Wedding Reception Organization to Consider:
- Refreshments: Have enough space for the bar area and keep it situated in a smart location. You don’t want to set things up in a crowded hallway and have guests bumping into each other, spilling their red wine.
- Photo Booth and Guest Participatory Activities: If you are expecting all of your guests to sign a picture frame with permanent marker or put their fingerprints on a personalized family tree, be sure they know about your expectations. Add this info to any wedding program or have signs posted on bathroom mirrors and near your seating plan. Alternatively, you could have a note on the table as well.
- Table Numbers/Menus/Place Cards: Having a seating plan can be a headache to organize. It is not always necessary. You can simply make seating arrangements by family name, birthday month or any other creative way you choose. Of course, leaving it up to your guests is another option; depending on the size of your wedding.
- Guest Favors: People have travelled a long way, potentially booked time off of work and have to spring for a hotel stay. Saying thank you from the heart is a nice touch.
If everyone is to receive a homemade bottle of wine, you may wish to set this up ahead of time. Choosing to have smaller items laid out per table setting (think box of chocolates) is another option. If you find thank you gifts are cluttering up the tables or are considering larger items (like a bottle of wine) have this set up on its own table near the entry/exit doors of your reception area. Guests will be leaving at different times. Incorporate your thank you’s into your speeches and ask each guest to pick one up when the night is over.
Program To Keep the Night On Schedule: If you have a timeframe for cocktails, speeches, the Father Daughter Dance, the Mother and Son Dance, cake cutting, fireworks, garter and bouquet throwing, consider printing out a copy for each table. This enables you to take care of the formalities early on in the evening and have time to dance the night away. If going with the flow is more of your laid back style; skip this step altogether.
Special Songs: Meet with your DJ ahead of time to determine your music selections. Keep the night fun by encouraging guests to request songs if the DJ is open to that. Some people ask for a song request list with their RSVP and that way, they can provide the DJ a list of guest-requested songs months in advance.
Ambiance: Figure out what look and feel you are going for when it comes to the reception. If soft and romantic is your theme, consider battery operated tea lights and white LED Christmas style lights overhead. If a vibrant nightclub atmosphere is what you are seeking, discuss lighting packages with your DJ.
Most importantly, have fun! Don’t stress and be sure that you enjoy your wedding reception!
Travelling back and forth on your wedding day can be an exhausting endeavor; particularly if you have a Ring Bearer and a Flower Girl or young guests in tow. Not to mention accommodating all of the out of town guests who have spent days travelling and are trying to locate multiple venues in a city they are unfamiliar with. More and more couples are opting to have their ceremony and reception in one location and with good reason.
Set Up and Settle In
People can unwind much more if they only have one location to get to and stay at. Eliminate spending a good portion of your wedding day stuck in traffic. You won’t have to worry about waiting on multiple people to show up on time before the ceremony, pictures and the reception can begin. Keep things simple and elegant by choosing one location that meets all of your requirements.
Eliminate Drinking and Driving
Weddings are a time for celebration. Many couples choose to have either a cash or host bar and often serve wine during supper. When your guests have a few hours to kill after the ceremony (while you and the wedding party disappear for a photo shoot) and then have to make their way to a reception; extra transportation needs to be arranged. This is especially true if they have to travel for the third time that day and make it back to a hotel at the end of the night.
Having your wedding and reception in one location keeps things simple. If guests are staying at or near your venue, they may be within walking distance to their hotel room. This keeps the evening stress free. Just think of all the money you will save on cab vouchers.
You and Your Guests Can Relax In One Place
Guests with small kids may need to keep nap time on schedule. Elderly family members may also be used to having some quiet time. When you eliminate excessive traveling between ceremony site and reception; you and your guests have more time to relax and visit.
Spend More Time With Your Family and Friends
When everyone is traveling in separate vehicles and trying to coordinate multiple rendezvous points; little time is left for actually visiting. Wedding days are extremely busy. Many couples relay they hardly saw one another during the reception or did not have time to visit every table. If everyone is staying and hanging out together, you will have a better chance of making time for everyone and everything.
Often, you will receive a decent discount if you are holding the entire event in one location. Ask for group booking rates if you are all staying at one resort or hotel. Using the on-site catering or restaurant may work out to be more cost effective; particularly if you are celebrating in a remote location.
Inform Guests of Your Wedding Day Timeline
If you are going to be stealing away for pictures, let the guests know ahead of time so they may wish to retreat for a nap or meet at the pool. You can have some outdoor activities arranged to entertain your guests while you get photos done such as: Frisbee, Lawn Bowling or a communal campfire. Maintain a welcoming self-serve atmosphere so people can unwind. You will be more relaxed if your guests are having a great time.
Congratulations on your engagement! This is going to be one of the most memorable and exciting events of your life! Choosing to hire a wedding planner from the start can help you breathe a lot easier. After all, you don’t want to turn into Bridezilla or break the bank in the process.
Why Hire a Wedding Planner?
Many couples view hiring a wedding planner as an unnecessary extra cost. It is great to pride yourself of being DIY with all things crafty and creative; however, these things cost time, energy and money to complete.
It is easy to think that doing center pieces for the table, homemade invitations and little gifts for the guests can be easily squeezed in after work and before bed every night for the next 6 weeks; however, life often gets in the way. Things an experienced wedding planner can help you with include:
- Sticking To Your Budget: You can discuss your budget concerns and set an amount to follow at your first meeting.
- Booking Your Venue: Discussing whether you wish for a traditional church setting or an outdoor beach style wedding will determine where to hold your event. The wedding planner knows how long set up will be and what kinds of décor options you may want to consider within a particular venue. Your planner will determine whether there needs to be extra chairs, tents and plate rentals and all those little details right down to whether table cloths are provided or not.
- Chair Slipcovers and Equipment Rentals: Depending on your venue, you may have to provide certain things including: glassware, silverware, buffet trays, arches, pillars, carpet for the aisle etc. Your wedding planner can find out exactly what is included in the cost of the rental and recommend where to rent or purchase the rest.
- Catering and Cake Options: An experienced wedding planner has many connections that will correspond with your cuisine choices and can facilitate tastings prior to committing to someone.
- Booking Your Photographer: After working with numerous photographers for various weddings, your planner will be able to give you a variety of price points and package ideas to choose from and recommend the right person for your special day.
- Best Invitation Options: If traditional print style reply cards are in the budget, your planner will have specific stationary suppliers to check out. If a DIY wedding website and online info is more your thing, they can help you find appropriate templates to download and utilize.
- Flowers: Whether you desire fresh cut in season flowers or wish to craft some artificial magic ahead of time, your choices are practically endless when it comes to flowers. Many couples choose to have greenery, herbs and seedlings on hand as environmentally friendly options. Either way, your wedding planner may have a floral connection where you can receive a bulk discount thanks to them!
Essentially, you want to be able to enjoy the entire wedding planning process. The wedding planner is available to coordinate, plan and execute your wishes so that you can plan stress free. It is nice to be able to enjoy family and friends and not have to be the one following up on every last detail. The majority of couples who hire wedding planners feel that it is well worth the money spent.