With careful and systematic reception planning, getting to that point is not so difficult. The key is to plan early and stay organized. Although wedding reception planning can feel like an intimidating responsibility, if you take it step by step, you will remain on top of, and happy with, your reception details.
Choosing A Location
Choosing a location is top priority. Some of the more popular party locations may be booked up to two years in advance! It's worthwhile to choose early and determine availability so that you are not disappointed later on. Ensure that your reception location will appropriately house the number of guests you expect while providing the ambiance that you most desire.
Whether you choose a backyard wedding reception or a full-out, upscale party with all those bells and whistles, you can create a beautiful and moving celebration. There are no rules except that you should be true to yourself and choose what will most reflect your personality and wishes for a unique and memorable affair.
The Wedding Coordinator
The wedding coordinator may be a professional who 'comes with' your designated location, or he or she may be the collective bride and groom, a parent, a friend, etc. The wedding coordinator will help choose and organize the floral arrangements, the musicians and the photographer(s). He or she may work closely with caterers and should be open to, and receptive of, the wishes and concerns of the bride and groom.
There are a myriad of photographers out there, representing a myriad of artistic (and not so artistic) interpretations. Make sure that you see and like the work of the photographer you choose. Don't be afraid to ask for referrals. Do you want many formal portraits? Or do you prefer more natural candids? Do you want all of your photographs in color, or might you want some special pictures in black and white or sepia tones? Discuss well before the wedding day, how much time you will miss from your own reception as you pose for photos. Some newlyweds regret missing large chunks of their own receptions, because that was the time the photographer slotted for their photos. You might want to consider having your portraits taken before the wedding ceremony to ensure that you have plenty of time to enjoy, and be a part of, your day.
Band or D.J.? This is a big decision, not only because it can be costly, but also because it will set the tone and mood for the entire affair. Some of the larger wedding locations will have evenings set aside for the previewing of bands. It's a fun way for couples to share an evening, and it will provide invaluable insight into what each band has to offer in terms of cost, style, and sound. Remember, that most receptions will start out with softer and slower music during cocktail hours and meal times. This will allow for conversation and eating in a calmer environment. Once the main course is complete, the music generally heightens and encourages dancing in that true party atmosphere. As the party nears its ending time, the music should again quiet down and remind your guests that the reception is almost over.
Food And Drink
Your menu, of course, will be determined by a variety of factors. Will you be serving breakfast, lunch or dinner? Will your food reflect a specific theme? Will you have a traditional meal with waiters or do you prefer food stations and/or buffets? Once you have selected your caterer, it will be apparent that there are many different ways to achieve delicious and classy options. Just remember that it's nice to have a vegetarian option and to consider the special dietary needs of your guests. Additionally, you will need to decide whether you want an open bar or a few pre-selected beverage options. And don't forget the champagne for your toast and those soft drinks for your non-alcohol drinking, and younger, guests.
Themes and Decorations
The ambience of your party room will immediately set the reception mood. Flowers not only add visual beauty, but they contribute to a more subtle fragrance enhancement as well. Remember that you can move your ceremony flowers into the reception room for even more decoration. Additionally, if you have chosen a specific theme, you will want to decorate accordingly. Is there a special hobby shared by the bride and groom that can translate into a wedding theme? Wedding themes can be as simple as a seasonal theme (reflecting autumn's colors or summer's beaches) or as complex as a Renaissance theme. There are no limits.
Everybody looks for that wedding cake! It is visited and viewed by many guests throughout the reception, and it will, no doubt, be the subject of many a photograph. Back in the days of the Roman Empire, and long before the existence of cake as we know it, the wedding rituals were completed with barley bread. The groom got to take a bite and then break the remainder over the head of his bride. Luckily, customs have changed a bit, and we now have the cake of our choosing, both a culinary and visual masterpiece. Whether you want that multi-tiered, white, traditional cake or something completely original, the choices are there for the taking. Be as creative as you want and remember that the cake truly is the last taste of the wedding!
There are so many ways to prepare for your wedding reception. Each small detail is woven into the larger fabric that will become your tribute and celebration. There can, at times, be pressure to please many guests of varying (and sometimes, opposing) tastes. However, when it is all said and done, remember above all, that this is your day. Truly representative of one of the most momentous occasions in a lifetime, the wedding reception is a day to celebrate your love and your union.