Receptions, like weddings, come in all shapes and sizes, but whatever style you choose, this should be the ultimate party – a celebration of love among family and friends. That means every detail must be perfect and nothing can be missed. This wedding reception checklist will help you design a plan from start to finish.
Wedding Reception Ideas
Before all the planning can begin, you have to have an idea of what you want – ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want a formal or casual reception?
- What is my budget?
- Indoors or outdoors?
- Sit down dinner or buffet?
- Cocktails? Just wine and beer? Liquor too? Do I want a signature drink?
- What main color scheme do I want to work with?
- Do I want a DJ or a band?
- What do I want to take place at the wedding reception?
Wedding Reception Timeline
Once you have determined the basic ideas, you should create a timeline for your wedding reception, so you know when you should do what.
Eleven months before:
- Pick the wedding reception venue
- Develop theme and color scheme
- Determine décor and hire event designer, if necessary
Nine months before:
- Select events/entertainment for the wedding reception
- Hire a caterer, if food is not included with your venue package
Eight months before:
- Prepare for out-of-town guest accommodations. Book rooms and arrange transportation, if necessary
Six month before:
- Select and order your wedding cake
- Book and confirm wedding reception entertainment: band, DJ, etc.
- Book any rental equipment you need: tents, tables, chairs, etc.
Four months before:
- Book your florist and select reception flowers and centerpieces (if desired)
- Work with your caterer or food venue and schedule a food tasting and select the menu
Three month before:
- Order stationary for printed menus, reception programs, table cards, etc.
Two month before:
- Order wedding reception things, such as toasting flutes, cake cutting set, etc.
- Take dance lessons, if desired
One month before:
- Confirm all vendors
- Create and submit song list for band or DJ
- Plan the order of the wedding reception (i.e., what you want to occur when)
- Create floor plan and seating arrangements
One week before:
- Secure final headcount and inform caterer
- Assemble favors and place cards
- Consider this your week to catch up on any “last minute” stressors and get all the details settled
The day prior to and the day of your wedding and reception should be reserved for you to relax and focus on you preparing for your big day – not fussing over caterers, music, and décor. And don’t be shy about hiring someone to handle “day-of” details. These individuals are less expensive than a full-time wedding planner and will fuss over the minutia so you can simply enjoy your day.