7 Tips for Planning the Perfect Wedding Reception

Hosting a memorable wedding reception is the perfect way to share one of the most important chapters in your story with people you care about.

But with such a dizzying flurry of details to attend to, reception planning can turn what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life into one of the most stressful.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy list of 7 helpful tips for planning a wedding reception that you and your guests will treasure.

#1: Start Planning Early

Give yourself the engagement gift of time.

Establish a wedding planning timeline as soon as the proposal is accepted, so you’ll have more time to plan a reception that reflects your one-of-a-kind journey as a couple.

  • Set a date. Having a date makes it easier to shop around for a location. You might want to have a few alternative dates in mind depending on when your favorite venue is available.
  • Select a wedding venue. You’ll need a venue that accommodates the number of guests you plan to invite. Visit prospective venues and ask about amenities and services. Look for easy access to hotels and plenty of parking and restrooms. If you’re dreaming of an outdoor wedding, make sure there’s a suitable indoor space close by in case Mother Nature makes other plans for your big day.
  • Choose vendors. Early planning gives you time to select and coordinate food, flowers, lighting, music, photography and other fun extras.
  • Create a wedding reception timeline. How much time is needed for wedding photos after the ceremony? When will you serve the food? Cut the cake? Take your first dance? Toss the bouquet? Organizing these activities ahead of time will help everything run more smoothly.

#2: Be Helpful Hosts

Make your special day a happy occasion for everyone, so your guests will remember you as the bride and groom who went the extra mile to give them a great wedding experience.

  • Comfort is king. Think like Goldilocks — make sure your venue is neither too hot nor too cold, the music neither too soft nor too loud, and the lighting neither too dark or too bright.
  • Keep everyone on track. You don’t want people standing around wondering what’s supposed to happen next. Print a wedding reception program, create place cards and menus, and put up signs to help guests find the restroom. Hire a DJ or designate a member of your wedding party to announce when it’s time to serve the meal, cut the cake or show off your latest moves on the dance floor.
  • Consider transportation. A shuttle service to and from the hotel would be a helpful for out-of-town guests, as well as those who need to get home safely after partaking in the celebratory champagne toast.

#3: Have Good Taste

Your wedding reception is a great opportunity for family and friends to celebrate together, and the right menu makes the occasion even more delicious.

  • As with your choice of venue, keep your guest list in mind when ordering food. Make sure there’s enough for everyone.
  • Start serving early. Appetizers should be ready when guests arrive at the reception, even if the main meal takes place a little later.
  • A plated sit-down dinner is generally easier for guests than a buffet.
  • Consider everyone’s dietary needs. Include vegetarian, sugar-free and heart-healthy options in your menu, and have some festive nonalcoholic beverages available when it’s time for toasting.

#4: Keep Everyone Entertained

Set the right mood with engaging activities to ensure that a great time is had by all.

  • Music makes the world go round. Talk to your DJ or musicians ahead of time about favorite songs your guests will like. But don’t micromanage the playlist — professional entertainers are good at reading the crowd and breaking out a few surprise numbers that will get those feet moving.
  • Less is more. Begin with the traditional wedding staples that guests look forward to — the first dance, cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet and so on. Then pick one or two unique “extra” activities to liven things up and put your own personal stamp on the reception.
  • And what are some of those unique extras? Perennial favorites like a photobooth, games, karaoke or other lighthearted activities are sure to be a hit.

#5: Show Gratitude

Take the time to speak to each guest personally and thank them for coming. While the traditional receiving line is an option, visiting individual tables is generally easier for the guests.

Including a few party favors will make your guests feel appreciated. And there are lots of great options to choose from without spending a lot of money — from small items like picture frames or candles to edible goodies like candy or cookies.

Personal thank-you notes at each place setting are another kind gesture.

#6: Spend Wisely

The last thing you need to worry about when planning your wedding reception is money.

Many couples mistakenly believe that a memorable wedding reception has to be expensive. Planning early gives you the time you need to find affordable food, decorations, flowers, photography and music that will delight your guests.

As soon as you get engaged, set a wedding budget that you’re comfortable with and stick to it.

#7: Have Fun!

Guests take their cues from the bride and groom. If you’re having a good time, they will too.

So relax, enjoy the music, savor your wedding cake, and enjoy your special day.

Don’t worry about mistakes. If something spills, breaks, gets lost or forgotten, it’s your chance to improvise, have a sense of humor and go with the flow.


And if you’re looking for wedding venues in Springfield, Missouri, get in touch with us at Storybook Barn. It’s the perfect place for celebrating your own happy beginning together in a beautiful historic setting.

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