Wedding Receptions Tips

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How can you save money on your wedding reception?

Wedding Reception Costs

The average wedding will cost a couple about $22,000. Of that money, over 50% will be spent on the wedding reception. The wedding reception is the largest expense of the wedding planning and it's the one area where you can actually save a great deal of money by employing a few frugal measures in your reception planning.

Trim back your wedding reception costs by involving friends and family in the wedding buffet planning. Take a trip to a Sam's Warehouse or a Costco Club to pick up quantities of finger foods. While some receptions may offer a full meal service, many guests will be just as content with a buffet of finger foods that they can carry around on small plates while they mingle and talk.

The wedding reception buffet can also help to eliminate planned seating and create a more intimate environment for wedding guests. Your wedding reception may host plates of vegetables, pinwheels, large blocks of cheese, crackers and even a variety of cheesecake platters. Other great finger foods that will taste great and offer your wedding reception guests options include:

  • Stuffed Pizza Bread
  • Quiches
  • Egg rolls
  • Vegetable platters
  • Chicken fingers
  • Barbecue Wings
  • Cubed fruits
Providing your own catering and setting up this type of buffet is a great way for the newlyweds to conserve their wedding budget, but at the same time provide a great atmosphere for their wedding guests. So go fancy or go casual, but go frugal.

What is order of events at a wedding reception?

Reception Timelines

Looking for some ideas on how to plan the timeline for your wedding reception? Here is a sample timeline that works for a 4-hour planned reception. You can adjust it as needed to mesh with your own timeframes. The average wedding reception lasts about three hours when a served meal is included. A buffet wedding reception may last a little less than that.

Sample Wedding Reception Timeline:

  • 0-30 Minutes - Pictures take of the wedding party; guests begin arriving at the wedding reception location. Drinks are available and music should be playing as a part of the backdrop for the guests to mingle and enjoy.
  • 30-90 Minutes – Guests are invited to sign the guest book and are shown to their seats if seating chart is dictated. The wedding party arrives at the reception and if a receiving line is planned for, that also begins
  • 60-120 Minutes – Guests will be seated for the dinner or the buffet is opened. The wedding party is served first, traditionally they must also go through the buffet line first as well. Wine and champagne may be served and the toasts begin, traditionally beginning with the best man
  • 120-180 Minutes – The first dance begins and the cutting of the cake. If food courses are being served, they should be winding down. Other traditional dances are done including father/daughter and mother/son dances
  • 180-240 Minutes – The last hour of the reception, the meal is wound down and the bouquet is tossed along with the garter. The bride and groom are sent off to their honeymoon.
  • 240- 270 Minutes - The reception wines down with the parents of the bride and the groom seeing guests off before the reception ends formally

Do you really need reception invitations?

Save the Date - Inviting Others to Your Reception

Wedding planning includes issuing invitations to your wedding, including information on the reception that is to follow. But you can issue separate reception invitations, specifically if you are planning a small wedding ceremony with a larger reception. However, whether you are sending out just wedding invitations with the reception to follow noted on them or a separate reception invitation, here are a few tips to help your reception guests to remember the date.

Reception Invitations :

  • Can be sent with a Save the Date magnet and your wedding date, wedding time and reception time detailed on them. Including those along with your invitation is a great and convenient way to help your guests remember the date
  • Can be a card with an engagement picture of the two of you to use as your reception invitation, you can include all the pertinent data about the reception
  • Should include any required dress, the type of meal to be served and even reference to the theme if that's important
  • Can inspire the perfect wedding favor either with the save the date magnets or creating couple photo magnets
  • Can be sent separately or as an inclusion with the wedding invitation
  • Are important if you are inviting guests only to the reception and not to the wedding and it's important to note that one the reception invitation
Invitation Wording:

A sample of your reception invitation wording may be:

GUEST NAME, your presence is requested at the Reception of BRIDE & GROOM's married name to be held at TIME, DATE and PLACE. The newlyweds will be married in a private, intimate ceremony and look forward to your presence at sharing our celebration with us.

Where do you get your wedding reception ideas?

Life, the Universe and Everything in Your Wedding

Where do you get your wedding reception ideas? How do you decide between a formal dinner and a buffet? Do you really want to create a seating chart for 200 people? Do you want to embrace the pomp and the circumstance of the receiving line? Where do you look for your wedding reception ideas? The answer to that is a simple one. You look to your own life, the life of your soon to be spouse and you find the a happy middle ground that satisfies you both.

The wedding reception is the first major event hosted by you and your new spouse. It's a function that celebrates your marriage and invites all of your family and friends to celebrate alongside you. The reception is as much for your guests as it is for you. In fact, in many cases your wedding reception will continue after you and your new spouse leave it to head out for the honeymoon.

Wedding reception ideas come from mixing both the drama and the fantasy in our lives. Think of a romantic setting that you'd like to share with your wedding guests and create it. If that means creating a beautiful outdoor setting with tents and paper lanterns that mix both natural and quiet illuminations as well as dramatic shadows; then that's what you do.

Your wedding reception ideas might include a brightly lit room with colorful decorations, loud music and lots of group dances. Your wedding reception ideas have to come from who the two of you are individually and who you want to be together. It's the first couple of paragraphs in the new chapter of your lives. So create the setting you want to be seen in and you want to enjoy in and that's where your wedding reception ideas come from.

How do you plan your reception decorations?

Lighting, Location & Love

The basic elements for planning your wedding reception and reception decorations will be determined by the location you select. Some of the reception decorations will also be based on the type of food and serving you choose. Planning the reception decorations is all a part of the details of planning the wedding reception.

Wedding receptions have six basic elements in their planning:

  • Location
  • Physical Comforts
  • Reception decorations
  • Catering
  • Music
  • Dancing
These elements come into play based on the reception location, especially if you are planning a wedding in a place where it's a blank slate. Some locations already have their environmental décor that will play a part in the reception decorations and you need to take that into account with your planning. There are many ways to take care of your decorations including rentals. Renting some of the accessories can save you money.

The ambience of your reception decorations includes your:

  • Lighting
  • Place settings
  • Drapes
  • Flowers
  • Balloons
The lighting choices can be as simple as twinkle lights and votive candles. Your place settings can be simple or elaborate. The drapes can be made of tulle, gossamer or silk. Your flowers can match those at the wedding or be individual to the reception itself. Balloons offer a fanciful touch to the decorations.

There are so many options that you can explore with your reception decorations that the list could be endless. Decide on a venue, decide on a theme and then let that help you choose the overall look and feel you are going for with your reception decorations. You can add shallow bowls of water with candles floating in them. You can mix and match your wine goblets. You can transform candles with wrapped ribbons. Go crazy when you plan your reception decorations and create the perfect venue to celebrate your first few hours as newlyweds.

During the reception, who choses the father/daughter song? The father or the daughter????

Father/Daughter Dance

The Father/Daughter dance is typically one of the most special dances of the evening. This dance symbolizes the daughter having one last special moment with her father, dancing to a song that has special meaning to their relationship.

Typically, a daughter chooses the song that she wishes to dance with her father to during the Father/Daughter dance. However, it is always nice to get some input from Dad when deciding on the song. Generally though, the final decision often comes down to the daughter.

What kind of napkins should we have for the reception?

Neat-o Napkins

Instead of having the bride and groom's names and the wedding date imprinted on napkins for the reception, have the initial of your last name imprinted in silver or gold instead. Couples always have a ton of napkins left over, and instead of going to waste, you can use them in your new home when you entertain!

How can I keep children entertained at my wedding?

Creative Kids' Table

Help keep kids entertained at your wedding. Cover their table with white craft paper, add a centerpiece of a basket of crayons, non-permanent markers, stickers, and glitterglue. You might even want to set up an "adult" kids' table and let the visitors create a keepsake that can be framed as a casual and fun alternative to a guestbook.

How much and what type of alcohol should be purchased for a party of 150 people?

How Much Alcohol to Buy

Any type of alcohol can be served at your wedding and the type that you choose should be based on your own personal tastes and those of your guests. The least expensive way to go is to serve only beer and wine, while the most expensive is to offer a full bar. An in-between option would be to have beer, wine and a “signature drink”. That way, you only have to pay for one type of liquor instead of many different types.
To determine how much alcohol to buy, you also have to figure into account whether your guests are generally heavy or light drinkers, as you would have to buy more alcohol to keep heavy drinkers pleased.
There is a great tool at Evite which helps you determine how much alcohol you should purchase. You simply enter the number of heavy, light and average drinkers you will have at your party, as well as the number of hours that your party will last, and it will automatically tell you how much alcohol to buy.
Keep in mind that many liquor stores will let you return unopened bottles. Look around for a store that has this policy.

How should I plan the reception?

Order of the Wedding Service

The usual order of service for the wedding reception order of events is as follows: * The Bride and Groom are welcomed by the Master of Ceremonies just prior to the service of the meal. * The cake cutting often takes place immediately after the wedding couple finish their main course. The appropriate pictures are taken at this time, giving the caterer time to prepare the cake for the guests. * After the meal is finished by all present, the Master of Ceremonies again gets the ball rolling. Typically they initiate the first toast and then introduce each member of the wedding party by name. * The first toast is usually offered to the Bride. This is often done by a brother or someone close to the groom. * Next, the parents welcome all of the guests (usually if the brides parents are hosting they will be first to speak or vice versa). They should welcome by name all of the guests that have traveled long distances to attend. They will then welcome their new "child" to the family. * The other parents will then offer a "responsal" toast and give their own words of welcome. * The best man is usually next to offer a toast and if the toast to the bride was omitted initially, he will offer it now. * Someone will next speak on behalf of the bride, typically her sister or maid of honor. This toast is usually presented to the couple. * If a toast to the bridesmaids was not offered by the best man, usually one of the groomsmen will offer it now. * Just prior to the grooms speech, any one else with a special salutation will rise and offer their words. * The final speaker is usually the groom, but it is becoming more common for both the bride and groom to speak. They usually thank all for coming and offer a toast to their parents. * The Master of Ceremonies will then close and announce the festivities of dancing and music. * The first dance is a solo by the bride and groom. * Then each will dance with their parent. * About an hour into the dancing is typically when the garter ceremony and the tossing of the bouquet takes place. * Prior to the departure of the bride and groom, the Master of Ceremonies will usually offer one final toast.

What is the backdrop for your wedding memories?

Fantasy Wedding Receptions

How long have you been planning your wedding? Did it start when you were a child attending your first wedding? Did it begin when you read your first fairytale and saw the characters go off into the sunset to live happily ever after?

Wedding Reception Locations Wedding reception locations s guide when you are helping your children plan their own weddings and wedding receptions. The location is the stage and the wedding reception you plan is the personal touch that will touch everyone who comes to it.

Imagine for yourself the beautiful, elegant hotel where you and your spouse are dancing across a marbled ballroom. Your wedding dress sways and the lights twinkle around the room. The tables are covered with beautiful white lace and there are waiters circulating to see to the needs of your guests. Is that who you are?

Imagine for yourself the beautiful gardens with their bougainvillea in full bloom and the scent of honeysuckle on the air. Dancers sway to the music beneath a canopy of lush trees and sunlight dapples the ground around the table where you and your husband drink your first toast. Is that who you are?

These are the places our wedding reception ideas come from. They come from our fantasies and dreams and we make them into a reality. Think about it – your wedding and wedding reception are the time in your life where you get to create the fairytale and live it in the same moment.

How do I make sure my vendors do a good job?

Planning A Wedding Reception

A few days before your wedding, make follow-up calls to each vendor to make sure that they know when and where they need to show up to keep the wedding reception order of events. Ask if they need directions to the church/reception area. Take a list of all vendor phone numbers with you to your ceremony in case you need to call if a vendor doesn't show.

How to we greet our guests, receiving line or at the reception?

Greeting Your Guests

When you're deciding how you want to greet your guests, you have two basic options: receiving line or walking around to all of the tables at the reception.

If you have one, you don't need the other. The point of doing either is to make sure you say "Thank You" to all of your guests for coming to your wedding.

Where does everyone sit at the head table?

Seating 101

Traditionally the head table features the bride and groom in the middle; you can go with either the best man next to the bride and the maid of honor next to the groom (and then boy-girl down both sides), or you can put all the girls on one side and all the guys on the other. If you don't want to have one big table, you don't have to---you can have the bride, groom, maid of honor and her date, and best man and his date at one smaller table, and the rest of the attendants and their dates at another table. It's up to you! The parents, siblings, and grandparents of both couples sit at the table that's closest to the head table.

Should I include directions in the invitation?

Giving Directions

Write up the directions to your church, to the reception, to the rehersal dinner and then drive them yourself. Make sure you put in distances between landmarks, and make those landmarks very easy ones. "The big brick elementary school" is much preferable to "the tree that looks like a bear". Make sure the streets, lights and buildings that you refer to are actually still in existence. Remember too, that your guests may be travelling in the dark, in unfamiliar areas. Giving a time reference is good too: "the church is approximately 15 minutes from the reception". Include any special directions for parking (if you're in a public park for instance), and clear up anything that may be confusing. A confused guest is not a happy one.

How can I cover up ugly chairs?

Cheap Chairs

Reception venues don't always have the nicest-looking chairs; I've seen wedding consultants have fabric coverings made to fit the backs, but that can be expensive. Try using tulle instead---it's cheap and lends a nice airiness to the reception.

How can I make a large room feel more intimate?

Dresssing Up the Room

To fill up a room that's larger than you need, consider renting shrubs and large potted plants to help fill up space. You can also dim the lights and add small white lights to help make a larger room feel more cozy and intimate.

What centerpiece can we use for the reception?

Love by Candlelight

Want a simple idea for centerpieces? Try using a hurricane lamp with a candle inside, surrounded by silk ivy and a few silk flowers. If you'd like, set the entire thing on top of a mirror to reflect the glow of the candle.

How can we make sure the reception goes smoothly?

Fun Floor Plans

It's important to get a floor plan for your reception hall/room. Be sure the layout includes the correct number of tables, the bar, dance floor, cake table,
gift table, placecard table, food stations, etc. This information will help you in planning the decorations, setting up the table arrangements and organizing the flow of the reception.

What do I consider when looking for a reception venue?

The Great Outdoors

Want to get married outdoors but aren't sure where to have the ceremony? Have it at a local park, public gardens, town square or botanical garden. Take into account that if it rains, you will probably need a tent, and budget "plan B" into your finances. Some outdoor venues also have gazebos that could provide a pretty setting for your vows.

How do I address place cards?

Place Card Know-How

How you address your place cards depends on the formality level of your wedding. If it's an informal affair with not many guests, you can use first names only (John and Susan). For a bit more formality or if you have more guests, use first and last names (John and Susan Jones). For more formal events, use titles, such as Mr. and Mrs. John and Susan Jones.

What centerpiece can we use for the reception?

Candlelight Centerpieces

For a simple yet elegant centerpiece, place several white or ivory pillar candles of different heights on a round mirror in the center of each table. Be sure that as the candles burn, the wax won't drip on the tablecloth.

We have been invited to a "Formal Black & White Dinner and Dancing Reception" What is the proper attire for males and females?

Formal Black & White Wedding Attire

If it's a formal dinner, you'll be expected to dress accordingly. Men should wear a black tux and white shirt and women should wear a black, white or black and white gown. Silver is also acceptable to wear at a black and white party.

How can I make my guests more comfortable at the reception?

Cocktails and Crab Cakes

If there is going to be a bit of time (an hour or more) between your wedding and your reception, it's a good idea to have finger foods and beverages set up at the reception location for guests to nibble on while waiting for the 'real' reception to begin. They'll be able to mingle with other guests and won't be starving by the time dinner starts.

How can we identify who brought what gift?

Wedding Reception Order

If some decorations for wedding receptions happen to fall apart slip a tiny roll of scotch tape in your maid of honor's purse. Someone will have a card fall off their gift, and that little roll will help you thank the right person for the right thing.

How can I make my wedding toast unique?

Toasts At The Wedding Reception

Plain Champagne is not the only cocktails for a wedding reception: you could try kir royale, mimosas, or Champagne framboise (mixed with a dash of rasspberry liqueur). These alternatives are much prettier and more festive.

What do I consider when looking for a reception venue?

Figuring It In

When trying to select a venue for your reception, be sure to ask what is included in the fee. Many halls charge extra for use of linens or 'cake-cutting' fees.

How do you plan a themed reception?

Hawaiian Wedding Reception

Want the Hawaiian flavor at your wedding reception, but can't quite get to Hawaii? The luau is a traditional Hawaiiian family or feast celebration that gathers together food, family and fun. In that sense, the luau is the perfect theme for your wedding reception.

Invite your guests to dress up for the luau in their Hawaiian shirts and tropical dress. Brightly colored Hawaiian shirts will add to the reception décor. Wedding flowers should include orchids and they should decorate your reception venue liberally. Offer flowers for the guests to tuck behind their ears and flowered leis to wear around their neck. Be sure to utilize Hawaiian flower etiquette, the flower behind the right ear means you are available and behind the left ear means you are not.

Each guest at the Hawaiian wedding reception should be greeted with an Aloha and they can then enter the venue, decorated with tropical touches including flowers, fishes, plants and more. Hire traditional Hawaiian dancers to perform a hula and live music to add that touch of tropical beat. You can transform any place into a Hawaiian wedding reception.

What do I consider when looking for a reception venue?

Saturday Night Fever?

Saturday evenings are usually the most expensive times to rent banquet halls or other facilities. Consider having your wedding on a Friday evening, or during the afternoon or morning, if the place you choose is booked up.

What entertainment should I have for my reception?

Wedding Reception Venues

If your thinking about the wedding reception order of events, especially for the delay caused by picture taking, perhaps a cartoonist, balloon-animal maker, magician, tarot card reader, or palmist would offer a pleasant distraction. A reception, set in a historical place, such as a gallery or museum, would lend itself well to offering guests a tour during this period.

What can we do to make the couple kiss?

Toasts At The Wedding Reception

If your planning a wedding reception, and you'd rather not have your guests clinking their glasses to get the wedding couple to kiss, but would like to do something a little more interesting, have guests stand and sing a song that has the word 'love' in it to make you kiss instead. You can get the ball rolling by alerting a few family members ahead of time and by placing this little poem on the tables: The bride and groom are newlyweds And we think that it has gone to their heads. So, if you clank the glasses so, We know their heads will only grow. So, instead we ask for one little thing, We request that you only sing. A line with the word 'Love' in it. And this will make the couple kiss.

How do we decide where to have our reception?

Guests First, Venue Second

Before your pick your reception location, decide on the approximate number of guests that you will invite to your reception. The room should comfortably accommodate all your guests, without being too small or too large. Many brides make the mistake of having a small reception in a large room, which makes the reception feel empty.

What unusual centerpiece can we have for our reception?

Tuscan Centerpieces

To make Tuscan-themed or Italian-themed centerpieces for your reception tables, try stacking two round loaves of peasant bread or focaccia bread and tying them with a large ribbon. Place in the center of the table with several flavored olive oils and a glass shaker of parmesan cheese. You'll have a festive centerpiece that will be functional, too.

How do I prepare for making a toast at the reception?

Wedding Reception Tables

If you want some good toasts at the wedding reception for bride and groom, be creative. Have guests first sing a song with the word love in it. Make guests re-enact their own proposal. Ask guests to create a limerick (keep it clean) about the couple. Request a small donation for each table that clinks to the couples' favorite charity. Have two people at the clinking table demonstrate a kiss that the bride and groom will have to copy (picture Grandpa and Uncle Joe).

Who should give a toast at a wedding?

Wedding Reception Places

According to Martha Stewart Living's Weddings Editor, Darcy Miller, the best man, parents of the bride, parents of the groom, and the bride and groom themselves should give toasts at the wedding reception. The bride and groom can give a toast together, one at a time, or only one of them may choose to speak.

How can we cut costs for our reception?

Outdoor Wedding Receptions

If you're on a budget, consider having your reception at a venue that is already equipped to handle such events. If you have to separately rent tables, chairs, table linens, dinnerware, glassware and flatware, the costs can add up very quickly. Often brides plan an at-home or outdoor wedding trying to save money, but after hiring waiters and renting equipment, it comes out to cost more than a inexpensive wedding reception at another location.

How do I choose a location for my wedding?

Just Can't Live Without 'Em

If there are some guests who *must* be at your wedding because you can't imagine getting married without their presence, keep them in mind when choosing a location. If it's too far away or too expensive for them to travel there, they may not be able to make it.

How do we get the bride and groom to kiss at a wedding?

Getting The Couple to Kiss

Instead of the usual clink to have the bride and groom kiss at the reception, be creative. Have guests first sing a song with the word love in it. Make guests re-enact their own proposal. Ask guests to create a limerick (keep it clean) about the couple. Request a small donation for each table that clinks to the couples' favorite charity. Have two people at the clinking table demonstrate a kiss that the bride and groom will have to copy (picture Grandpa and Uncle Joe).

How do I make sure I have the right guest count for the reception?

Wedding Reception Planning

What can you do to make sure in your Wedding Reception Planning the invited guests not only RSVP but do not bring "additional" guests? Either hire a wedding coordinator or designate a non-family member not known to the guest to call and confirm before you need your final count.


Fantasy Wedding Receptions

The wedding reception can vary based on the type of wedding the bride and groom want to have. Receptions range from buffet lunches to sit down dinners, and feature cocktail hours, dancing and mingling. Talk to your wedding planner about the type of wedding reception you want and find the place that accommodates your ideas best.


Hawaiian Wedding Reception

Wedding style is about the theme, the type and the location of your wedding. To have a luau wedding reception, you need to create an atmosphere where you and your guests are transported to the Pacific islands. You can transform any location into a Hawaiian paradise. You can do it at any time of the year and in any part of the country.


Lighting, Location & Love

The wedding reception can vary based on the type of wedding the bride and groom want to have. Receptions range from buffet lunches to sit down dinners, and feature cocktail hours, dancing and mingling. Talk to your wedding planner about the type of wedding reception you want and find the place that accomodates your ideas best.

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Guru Spotlight
Shirley Tan