Wedding Reception Checklist: Planning Your Greatest Party

wedding reception checklistLet’s be honest, sometimes the best part about weddings are the receptions: food, open bars, conversations, and drunk Aunt Sally.  We have all watched “Wedding Crashers”, right?  That’s where all the crashing happens because it’s where all the fun is at! It might look rather simple, just get everyone in a room or event area, get them to sit down, and feed them, but you and I know better.  As with any big event, there are going to be meetings, planning, organizing, and communicating to ensure proper and pleasant execution.  Weddings are usually a big family affair, and it is likely that more than one person is going to want in on the planning process.  Whether you are the bride, groom, parents, or part of the wedding party, Udemy has some a course to help you prepare or get an overview of what to expect for and during a wedding reception.


So you have just gotten engaged…congratulations!  The fun is just about to start, so we hope you are ready.  Ideally, you still have 9-12 months until your wedding, which is the perfect time to start planning.  Firstly, start a wedding folder or binder.  This is going to help you stay organized through all the chaos (or excitement) that will surround you until your big day.  There you can stash any ideas, pamphlets, bills, lists, or notes that you have as the months start winding down.  The reception of a wedding is a big event.  It is likely going to have more guests than your actual wedding, and people are going to be looking for an entertaining, fun, and hearty time.  We know that your big day is all about you, but this is the one part of your day that is about your friends, family, and loved ones too.

The List

  1. Pick a Date:  Make sure you have a definite date down before you start planning your reception.  You never know what a certain venue might offer, and if the reception is going to be at the same, or separate, location.  People generally book their sites 1 to 2 years in advance, so do not stall on this one!
  2. Innie or Outtie?  Decide what climate your reception is going to be in.  Obviously, if you are getting married in the winter you might want to think twice about having an outdoor reception.  Consider the season and day of the week when you are deciding on a date as well: venues tend to be cheaper in the winter months and on Sundays.
  3. Budget:  This is the scary part, and sometimes will slap you back from the fantasy you might have been dreaming about for awhile.  The wedding reception is probably going to cost more than any other part of your wedding, so you are going to make sure you set your budget wisely. Talk to whoever is in charge of expenses and know how much you have to work with.  Make sure you know what you want during your reception so you are able to factor in all the necessary costs.
  4. Reception Type:  Not all wedding receptions are created equal, and there is no right way to do them.  The traditional type is obviously the sit-down meal reception followed by some dancing, but you can mix things up to fit your own reception desires.  For instance, you can choose to have: a cocktail reception where guests are free to walk around and socialize in an open area, or a simple cake-cutting following the wedding.  This is a fun way to thank your guests and seal things up afterwards.  This is a lot more low-maintenance than a big reception and can be as fun and quaint as you want it to be.
  5. Seating Chart:  These can be fun or tedious.  It might almost feel like you are in Geometry class all over again.  However, seating charts can be a good way to remind yourself of everyone you have invited.  You can either organize people with those whom you know are already acquainted, or switch things around a little bit for some new introductions.  Typically the bride and groom sit together, and close family sit towards the front of the room nearest to their new couple.
  6. Greeting Line:  There are usually mixed reactions for this one.  Some think this makes things too awkward or formal, while others believe it is a nice way to be able to congratulate the new couple without having to interrupt them at another time.
  7. Reception Entrance:  Many couples like to be announced before they enter the reception room.  This is nice because it shows everyone who they are here to see: the bride and groom!
  8. Food:  This is always fun to work out.  Usually there will be a little bit of trial and error trying to decide on the menu.  One of the best ways to do this is allowing your guests to have options.  There are going to be people who have certain dietary restrictions, and this is where different options can come in handy.  Make sure you keep your budget in mind when you are making the menu and consider how many people you will be feeding.  Once you have your menu down, you can think of which way you would like the food to be presented to your guests.  This also might have a lot to do with your particular culture and background.  Different cultures enjoy buffet style, family style, or plated meals.
  9. Toasts and Speeches:  These can be fun or extremely tiresome if they are not kept short.  Often times it is also hard to hear everything if the venue is big and the people are plentiful.  Make sure you plan accordingly, and, above all, choose people to talk whom you know will be respectful of you and your special day.
  10. Getting Jiggy With It?  Decide whether you would like dancing to take place at your reception.  Generally dancing occurs after everyone has finished their meals and plates are cleared.  This would be after the father-daughter, mother-son, and the couple’s first dance.  Keep in mind that if you do want dancing, you will need a playlist that will cater to your guests and a DJ or someone to be in charge of the music.

Leave Anything Out?

Okay, so you have your list down and you have a pretty good grasp of what you want.  Did you forget anything?  Probably!  Here are some things to remember to bring for during your wedding reception.

  • Wedding Favors:  These are not required, of course, but it is nice to give your guests a little thank you, as well as something to remember to let them keep from your special day.  Think about this ahead of time so you can either order or make them yourself.  Do not get too fancy, just be thoughtful.
  • Guestbook:  Before your reception, get a nice blank book that guests can write a little something in for you to read after your wedding.  This is a fun way to look back on your special day in years to come.  Do not forget writing utensils!
  • Chargers:  Funny, but useful!  If you are planning to use an iPod or a digital camera during your wedding, these are definitely going to come in handy.  Plus, who knows if you are going to need a call.  You might not have time to go home if you are heading straight for the Honeymoon Suite.
  • Comfy Clothes or Shoes:  A funny thought, again, but sometimes overlooked.  After you have been running around all day in your fancy garments, sometimes the only thing you want to do is feel comfortable as the night is winding down.  Bring a pair of shoes that look nice but are good to your feet, and a change of clothes for emergency.

Toast Your Glasses!

Hopefully by now this checklist has helped you get a more clear view of how your wedding reception is going to play out.  Udemy has a variety of courses that can offer you a deeper and more detailed outlet for your reception’s preparation.  Don’t let anything stand in the way of you and your ideal reception!