This is the most fun part of the wedding and believe it or not, it can be great fun planning it, too. Here are some ideas to make your wedding reception planning go smoothly:
- Before selecting a location for the reception, be sure to visit it in person. Do not just look at pictures or ads. If you like the look of the location, get information on possible menus and prices. Venues are usually a little cheaper if you reserve them on a Friday or Sunday as Saturday is the busy day for weddings. Ask if there is a way you can taste the food before you sign a contract. There is nothing more embarrassing for the bride and groom then to have bad food served to their guests.
Reception venues book fast in the busy seasons. To be on the safe side, book your location at least one year in advance. Find out who supplies centerpieces and/or the wedding cake and also ask about coming early to decorate with balloons and streamers. Once you sign the contract, you will no doubt have to put down a deposit. If it's at all possible, try to pay the balance before the wedding day. This gives you one less thing to do on that very busy day.
- You also need to arrange for music for the reception. There should be dinner music softly playing while the guests are eating. Later, after dinner, is your band or DJ. As with the hall, shop for the music well in advance of the wedding. If you choose a band, make sure you listen to their music and see a picture of them. If you have special songs that you want played, make sure the band receives a list of the songs well in advance of your wedding date. A couple of weeks before the wedding, check back with the band or DJ to make sure they are prepared to play or perform the list of songs.
- If your reception location doesn't supply the wedding cake, you will need to shop for one. Almost all bakeries make them, so you have a lot of options. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be decorated with candles, ribbons, bows, frosting flowers, and fresh flowers. Ask if they sell cake tops, which are usually a little bride and groom statue. If they don't, they can be found at figurine shops, baking supply stores and specialty shops. Sometimes a bouquet of flowers is used for the cake top.
- Don't forget the garter and the throw-away bouquet. Usually the bride has two garters--one she keeps and the other her groom throws to the single men. The throw-away bouquet is usually purchased with the other wedding flowers. It's rare for a bride to throw her wedding bouquet, although if the bride wishes to do so, it's perfectly all right.
- You may want to arrange for appetizers or a sweet table for you and your guests. Chocolate fountains have become very popular.
- Sometimes the wedding couple chooses to hire additional entertainment, such as a Blues Brothers act or Elvis. Other weddings have someone in the family who is involved in a dance group like Irish Dancers or Flamingo Dancers. It's up to you!
- If the reception venue does not supply centerpieces, it's up to you to have them made and set up. Also there is usually a little favor given to each guest. Some examples are instant cameras, small picture frames, engraved matchbooks, or gourmet candies.
- Brides and grooms use special goblets for their toasts--pewter, glass, or whatever suits you.
- Make sure to work on a seating chart; the hall will supply you with a map of the tables to use.
- Set aside a gift table for people who did not attend showers but want to give gifts.
- Have a moneybag to hold envelopes you may receive from guests.
- If children will be attending the reception, it's a good idea to set aside a little space and provide some puzzles or games for them to play.
- Last but not least, have a list of names for announcing the bridal party and family entering the hall. If you have a DJ, he may do it or you can have an usher or another person of your choosing.
It is presumed that you have a photographer and/or videographer from earlier in the day who will also cover the reception. Have a great time!