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Wedding Reception

Step-By-Step Guide to Plan a Wedding Reception

A lot of couples choose to have an afterparty after the wedding reception. This may be at a separate venue, or at the same one where the reception is held.

After dinner, your DJ or band will play high-energy music to encourage everyone to hit the dance floor. This will be followed by your bouquet and garter tosses.

1. Decide on a Theme

Choosing your wedding theme is an important step in planning your big day. It will help you narrow down the details of your venue, such as the ceremony aisle markers and altar backdrop, table centerpieces, and tablecloths (if you want them).

When deciding on your wedding theme, consider your shared interests as a couple. Do you enjoy traveling? You could make your wedding a destination wedding. Do you both love music? You might opt for a musical-themed wedding. You can also use a personal touch like how you and your partner met to inspire your wedding theme. For example, you could recreate the restaurant where you and your future spouse first met to serve tacos and margaritas at your reception. This will be a fun callback to your relationship and make your wedding feel more authentic.

2. Set a Budget

Creating a budget is one of the first steps when planning a wedding. Having this number set early will help you determine everything from how many save-the-dates and invitations to order to how much to spend on food, drinks, and flowers. It will also give you a clear idea of what is non-negotiable and what areas you can hold back on to get your dream day within budget.

To cut costs, ask your vendors for options that are within budget but still reflect your style. For instance, instead of an all-candle ceremony arbor, try using natural elements from the venue for a cost-effective alternative. Also, serving signature cocktails can add up, so consider limiting the options to keep your bar bill under control. The other big cost-saving tip is to choose a date that’s off-peak for weddings, which can save thousands in venue fees and travel expenses for guests.

3. Create a Guest List

When it comes to creating a wedding guest list, first decide who has a say in who gets invited. This may be you and your partner or both sets of parents, especially if they are contributing financially to the wedding.

Start with a list of everyone you want to invite (your A-list). This can be done on a spreadsheet, by hand or however you choose. This will be the master list and should include your immediate family, close friends, and any non-negotiables.

Next, begin trimming the list based on your budget and venue capacity. You may decide to implement blanket rules for A and B lists, such as only inviting A-list guests a plus one or only including extended family members on your B list.

4. Select a Venue

One of the first things you will need to decide when planning a wedding is where it will be held. It helps to have a rough idea of how many people you will be inviting before looking at venues, so that you don’t fall in love with a space that is too small and end up having to invite fewer guests than planned.

It’s also helpful to choose a venue that is easily accessible for your out-of-town guests. Consider how long it will take for them to travel from their hotels, and if there are any other activities that they may enjoy doing in the area before or after the reception.

It’s also a good idea to visit the venue on the same weekend that you will be getting married on, to get an accurate sense of lighting, temperature, and parking.

5. Finalize the Reception Details

When you’ve finalized the guest list, you can send out save-the-dates and begin addressing invitations. This will give guests enough time to clear their calendars, book travel plans and more.

If you plan to offer a hotel room block for out-of-town guests, book it at this time to ensure that you get the rooms you want. This is especially important during popular wedding seasons.

Make sure that you’ve finalized the number of guests that will be attending with your vendors. This will help them plan accordingly and it’s also needed when you order items like linens. It’s also a good idea to confirm the ceremony and reception start time with your venue so it’s on your invitations. You can always change this closer to the wedding date if necessary.

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