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Wedding Reception

Your wedding reception is a big part of your wedding day. The wedding reception location is most likely were you and your guests will spend the most time on the day of your wedding. So when you decide on your reception location keep a few things in mind such as how many people does it comfortably accommodate, parking, reception services it offers (such as servers, catering, beverages etc. more on this further down the page).

If you are not familiar with the term wedding reception, the wedding reception is the part of your wedding day when you and your guests enjoy a meal together typically after the ceremony and this is when the festivities (the party) is held.

Wedding receptions are a great time to mingle with the people that have come to witness your very special day so you want to keep in mind that the location should not only be able to accommodate enough tables for all your guests but you also want there to be a plan for how to handle the festivities after the dinner. You want there to be enough room for people to move around and talk and probably also have a dance floor. Depending on the venue of your choice there may be more than one room available to accommodate these different needs. However if you are working with one room for the dinner and dance then make sure that there is a plan in place for how tables and chairs will be moved and arranged so that it doesn’t create a big mess and interruption in the middle of your wedding reception.

This is the more complete list of all the items that you might want to look into when inquiring about a reception venue:

  • Guest seating capacity
  • What dates the venue is available for
  • Parking facilities
  • Accessibility
  • Dance floor
  • What are options for head table, shape of table, raised table etc.
  • Near by taxi services (for guests after the celebrations)
  • How late you can keep your reception going, last call and when music will need to end
  • Hotel room deals (if you holding your wedding reception at a hotel or similar you may be able to get some good room deals for yourself and your guests)
  • Music and PA system equipment
  • Do they supply linen (table clothes, napkins, chair covers if needed etc.)
  • Dinner services; servers, in-house catering, alcohol license (some places have licenses so that you may serve alcohol in there facilities however they do not provide the alcohol themselves whereas some other venues do not allow any alcohol to be brought in, in which case you should have a look at their drink and wine lists and prices), corkage fees, ability to accommodate food allergies etc.
  • Clean-up of reception room
  • Do they provide a gift table and guest book table
  • Can you use the same room for ceremony and reception and if so, how long do they need to flip the room
  • Are there places for wedding photos
  • Can they store your wedding cake for you
  • Handling of flower arrangements/decorations etc for the tables (and other decorations)
  • Do they have a projector (in case you want to show a slide show of some sort)

Often times the wedding couple wants their wedding reception to be decorated in style along with the theme of the wedding as far as colors etc. Make sure to have a good look around at your reception location to see what the space offers already and what it can accommodate as far as flower arrangements and other decorations and necessities. Let the environment and the reception venue inspire you to come up with some new ideas to make use of at the party.

If you are planning to have your wedding reception outdoors, keep in mind that you will have no control over the weather on your wedding day, so keep a back up plan handy if you are going this route. Another idea is to have your wedding reception in some sort of different environment, maybe some place that strongly reflects who you are – maybe at a lodge, at the side of a mountain or the sea, in a nicely decorated tent or maybe in your or a relative’s home. You can also play with some wedding reception ideas when it comes to the decorations. Instead of going with floral centerpieces maybe use candles. Again, nature and the environment is your friend, let it inspire your creativity and see what ideas can come out of that.

It is often sees as traditional that the reception follows the ceremony and the guests that attended the ceremony attends the reception. However, as with most things there are exceptions and people doing slightly different things – it depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Some couples have a smaller ceremony, either by choice or maybe the venue they really wanted to use for their ceremony did not accommodate all the guests they wanted to invite, and then have a bigger reception party afterwards that more people are invited to (so not everyone necessarily attends the ceremony but can come along and celebrate the newlyweds at the reception). So this is a different idea of how you can do it if you want a smaller, more intimate ceremony but still want to find a way to involve and let your family and friends be a part of your wedding.

Also if a couple decide to elope or simply go away for the wedding and thereby do not invite very many people to their ceremony (if any) the newlyweds may throw the reception party once they come back home from their get-a-way. At this time friends and family are given a chance to wish the married couple good luck and fortune.

The wedding reception is the part of the day when the wedding couple gets to relax (at least a little bit!), as the most 'nervous' part is probably the ceremony, and get to let loose and mingle with their guests. You want this experience to be true to whom they, groom and bride are. Environment offers a lot but a great deal is also to be found in the small details. If you are the groom or the bride talk this over with your partner to figure out what the atmosphere you want to create is. What is the experience you want yourself and your guests to walk away with and remember? Let the ideas flow and then start narrowing it down and do some research to find out what is possible. Give yourself some time to refine this so that you actually get an end product that you are both going to be very happy with and that will serve as a nice memory for all times to come.