How to Plan Your Wedding Reception

How to Plan Your Wedding Reception

When you’re planning your dream wedding, there are two very distinct parts: the ceremony and the reception. Not only do they have different purposes, but can have very, very different vibes to them. Where the wedding ceremony is elegant, formal and structured, wedding receptions are a celebration and as such, can be anything you want it to be.

From big party style blowouts, to intimate dinners, to chilled out beach barbecues, the world is your oyster when it comes to planning your wedding reception. Regardless of your theme or the atmosphere you’re trying to create however, there are a few key things that you’re going to have to consider.

So without further ado, let’s get into everything you’re going to need to do to plan your beautiful wedding reception!

Wedding Reception Layout

First things first, you’re going to want to work out what the layout of your wedding reception venue is going to be. Do you want a big sit down meal with multiple tables of eight or so? Maybe you want a long community style banquet table? Maybe you’re having a barbecue and just want some big cushions or hay bales scattered around outside?

Once you have an idea of your catering style, you’ll know how much space you’ll need and how you can arrange your reception venue. Think about things like where your entrances and exits are, where the bathrooms are, and where your entertainment and dance floor is going to go. Most importantly, where is the table with the wedding cake going to be set up? All important questions.

Even if you just sketch out a rough floor plan of your ideal reception layout, you can take it with you to wedding reception venue meetings and see what works and what doesn't.

Indoor or outdoors

Another great wedding reception question that you need to factor into your planning is indoors, outdoors, or a mix of the two. This is massively going to impact what you can and can’t do as well as the atmosphere that you’re going to create with your wedding reception.

For example, if you’re having your wedding reception wholly outside, you might need a generator and extension cables for lighting and entertainment purposes. Maybe you need a tent in case the weather changes? What about bathrooms and fresh water for the bar and catering?

If you’re indoors, you’re a lot more restricted creatively. If it’s an old hotel or stately home, you might not be able to hang or drape certain bits of decoration. Alternatively, the catering kitchen might be on the other side of the building from your reception function room, or the plumbing and lighting might be on the old and unreliable side.

Both come with pros and cons but you have to figure out which option is right for you and your big day. Once you’ve decided on that you can go ahead and plan the logistical and aesthetic sections of your wedding reception.

What’s your entertainment vibe?

At your wedding reception, what are you going to be vibing to? Is it a big band, a jazz quartet, a DJ, some karaoke, or an acoustic cover band? There are so many entertainment options that you can choose from to bring your wedding reception to life. A lot of this will depend on the formality level of your wedding reception as well as the atmosphere you’re trying to create.

In a similar way, you need to decide if you’re having a dance floor and if so, where it’s going to be and how big. Not only is this important for your guests, but it’s something worth noting for you and your new spouse’s first dance.

Many couples now opt for dancers, performers or magicians to come round and entertain guests at their tables in between courses. This is obviously up to you and the size of your wedding. It’s definitely more of a formal event thing to do. If you’re having a buffet, there isn’t time in between courses and you’re probably catching up with old friends. However if there are 150 people to serve desserts to, there’s going to be a noticeable lag.

Table setting styles

A planning aspect that often gets overlooked is the table setting style. Especially if you’re opting for a full sit down meal style wedding reception, you’re going to want your tables to look the part. Think about it, this is where your wedding guests are going to spend a large portion of the reception, so it’s important to convey your theme and aesthetic at the table.

This can be done through the style and colour of the crockery and stemware, the linens that you choose to drape across the tables, and even the tables themselves. A reclaimed wooden banquet style table says something very different from an eight seater round table with a high quality white tablecloth on it.

You can go fun and quirky with your table setting design, elegant and classic, or somewhere in between. It’s entirely up to you and your soon-to-be spouse to decide.

Final tips

Let’s round up this guide to planning your wedding reception with a few final tips:

  • Don’t over schedule your reception. Things are likely to run over and people will want time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. If you meticulously schedule wedding photos to first dances to meals to speeches and beyond, you’ll have less room for fun.
  • Try and carry one or two thematic things through from your wedding ceremony to your reception. Even if it’s a different vibe and even if you change into a second outfit, you still want your guests to feel like they’re still at your wedding. If you’re having a beach wedding ceremony then head to an oceanfront hotel for the reception, bring some driftwood aspects or some blues and whites in to connect the two areas of the day. Maybe match the flowers or colour scheme to provide some much needed cohesion.

Event Report: Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party

One downside to living in Honolulu is that it’s really far away from New York City. Luckily though Style Art Life was able to attend Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party in my stead in the end of January and she snapped a ton of awesome images of the event.

I just love seeing all the ideas coming from the vendors associated with one of my favourite wedding publications. Some trends you’ll notice: Rice Krispies cakes (done right!), plunging backless wedding dresses, and transferware plates!

Ice carving guest book | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
new take on burlap | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Martha Stewart's Wedding Party in NYC | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
bite sized cake | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Plunging backless #wedding dress | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Goodie Bags from Martha Stewart's Wedding Party in NYC | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Amazing cake design | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
vintage style #weddingdress | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Sylvia Weinstock cake | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Martha Stewart's Wedding Party | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Martha Stewart's Wedding Party in NYC | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Offset printed plates | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
White wedding #cake | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Colorful flowers | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Plunging backless wedding dress | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Chic country style tablescape | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Gatsby style wedding entertainment | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Martha Stewart's Wedding Party in NYC | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Rice Krispie wedding cake done right | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Crystal bowl place setting | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Backless wedding dress | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Amazing cake design | photography by Style Art Life | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Vendors at Martha Stewart's Wedding Party | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/

Didn’t this event look fun?! I wish I could have gone. Instead am going to settle for grabbing the newest copy of Martha Stewart Weddings.

A sneak peek of my favourite feature (Let There Be Light, photographed by Sandra Freij) can be seen below which showcases magnetic, iridescent, and downright radiant wedding dresses from the likes of Enzoani, Jenny Packham, Rafael Cennamo, Rochas, and Sophia Kokaslaki!

New issue of Martha Stewart Weddings | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Radiant wedding dresses from Martha Stewart Weddings | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Radiant wedding dresses from Martha Stewart Weddings | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/
Radiant wedding dresses from Martha Stewart Weddings | see more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/02/event-report-martha-stewarts-wedding-party/

Have you been to any fun wedding events lately or checked out this fashion feature in Martha Stewart Weddings yet? Let me know!