4 Rules of Thumb for Reception Planning

The reception is the real celebration of the wedding. So a good portion of your planning (and your budget!) will be around it. The process might seem tricky and a little overwhelming, but as long as you keep a few things in mind, you should be just fine.

Concentrate on the main points of planning: decorations, entertainment, seating, and the menu. Here are some suggestions to help you with each one and make your wedding reception a memorable one!

After you find your venue, the first thing to focus on is decor. You need to ensure that they match the general theme or style of your wedding. In many ways the reception is the place where your wedding theme and style will be most prominently displayed. It should be obvious what design idea you are creating. Choose one or two items to carry through the entire room such as color, a monogram, or perhaps a flower. Remember that this will be in every photo of your reception. It will make a difference in your album!

Entertainment varies with each bride but typically it will be music. Some brides go with a DJ and others go with live entertainment. If you choose a DJ make sure he can play a diverse collection of music from classics to top 40 hits. Live entertainment is also be a great choice. If you are working on a tight budget but are in love with the idea of live music, look  for great local bands in your area. If you like certain type of music, like Michael Jackson, tribute bands are a great idea. Shop around so you find the best value for your money. For a non-traditional approach, do something unique such as a fall carnival where you can include special activities and games. The point of entertainment for your reception is to have something for everyone.

The chairs you choose can make or break your reception's ambience. Chair covers can tranform any chair (including the funny ones that come with some venues or iffy fabrics that you do not like). Wooden folding chairs add a nice touch or for a formal feel go with a charivari. They are a little pricey but change a look like no other chair can. Assigned seating can be a prickly issue especially if you have guests with special needs for seating or you have to do some indirect family diplomacy. Assign someone (mom? aunt?) to keep abreast of who is not on good terms with each other in the family. This way you will know to put them at different tables.

The menu is obviously an extremely important part of your reception. You want to have a great, fabulous meal on your wedding day and I'm sure you would like to serve the same to your guests! Be creative, if you like, when choosing your menu. Pull ideas from your over all feel or theme. Fall wedding? Have a caramel apple bar for guests along with or in lieu of cake or serve hot apple cider from hollowed green apples. Winter? Take a standard comfort food - like macaroni and cheese - and jazz it up with sumptuous toppings like mushrooms or peppers and have your catering company use gouda instead of the standard cheddar. Also consider your tablescaping - ask your planner to make the presentation and decor of the food spectacular. Whatever you choose, be sure you enjoy it!

Happy planning!