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  • Writer's pictureRustic Rose Barn

Tips for Planning a Reception

You spend so much time planning your wedding and have visions of a beautiful ceremony (which it will be), but most of the time your guests spend with you on wedding day is at the reception. So, we wanted to take the time to help you with the big plan! The reception is all about celebrating with your close family and friends so

ONLY invite your close family and friends. If you haven't talked to someone for 2 years, you might want to consider taking them off the list.

After all, you are paying per person for your reception: food, cake/dessert, drinks, table settings/decor, and other things like party favors. Budget is the #1 cause of stress when planning a wedding. You want meaningful time with those closest to you without dividing your time too much.

Make sue your hours are reasonable. You may have gone to your sweet cousin's summer wedding and stayed until 11 PM, but the wedding may have started at 8 PM! An average reception lasts 4.5 hours. Sooooo- if you have a 2 PM wedding, please don't make your guests stay until 11 PM! Put yourself in your guests' place. That saves everything from running our of snacks/drinks, to having guests that are overly intoxicated, to losing all but 5 of your guests (which makes for a sad send off).

On the flip side, if your reception is only an hour long, you may not have time to do "all of the things" that make your reception memorable: Special dances, cake cutting, toasts, bouquet/garter toss, send-off, visit with guests, taking all of the photos you want, etc.

Make your reception family friendly if needed. If you are having a reception where alcohol is being served, or even if the music, toasts, or other components are likely going to be "adult", you may want to implement some strategic planning. It is ok to list on your invitations that after a certain time, families with children should exit. Your planners, vendors, and guests would be glad to adjust their timelines to accommodate for that. Bars do it. Families would appreciate it. You will be glad you did!

Use a DJ. Even if your venue has a great sound system, it is well worth your money to hire a good DJ (yes, we did say good). Take your time to research DJs. Ask your coordinator, check reviews, and interview the prospects. When you have a good DJ, you will have a much more organized, intentional reception that has many more memories, and guests will stay longer! When you don't have one, it is hard for guests to know what to expect, when to do things, and they often don't take initiative to get out there on the dance floor and get involved.

Make sure your caterer stays to serve. If you can swing it, DO IT! When the caterer serves, they are there to portion your food so that you don't prematurely run out, your food tables stay stocked and clean, and every guest is not touching everything (especially in these days of Covid). Most caterers will also cut your cake, serve it, and often supply the plates, utensils, napkins, and cups (although you will want to discuss this with them). The worst thing ever is to run out of food before everyone gets through the line (all because the guests are not aware of proper portions).An added benefit is that they clean up the space, both where the food is served AND in the prep area. On top of all of this, they often box up the extra food for you to easily transport home!

Always hire a licensed, insured bartender. Most venues and insurances that carry the venue require this, but in case they don't, do it anyway! Make sure there is a bartender there at all times serve your guests (and wedding party) that can ID, check to see how they are doing throughout your event, and be a responsible party in that area. Security is also a good idea that is almost always required if alcohol is being served. There are many things to consider when serving alcohol: open bars often encourage guests to drink more and sometimes less responsibly. Cash bars, wrist bands (that allow a certain amount of drinks), and limiting the amount of alcohol being served, are all ways of insuring that your guests leave your event safe. Oh, and one more thing, make sure Uber or a designated driver, is available for guests that should not be driving home.

Make sure you have a coordinator for the day of wedding. Wedding day is an exciting day! It is filled with lots of anxiety (the good kind), lots of opinions (from those who want the best for you), and lots of STUFF . Vendors will need direction and information, things will need to be set up, questions will need answered, and decisions will need to be made throughout. This is not the day for YOU or YOUR family to be doing this. Have a coordinator or planner to take care of this. Some venues provide this as an option, others rely on you to bring one in. Regardless, it is of great benefit to you. Rarely do receptions go exactly as planned. You need someone there to guide it, make sure it can bend and flex with your needs, and to take the pressure off of you!

Don't feel the pressure to make your reception a cookie cutter wedding. Just because you've seen it at every reception you've been to, you don't have to do it. You've gotten through the ceremony- YOU ARE MARRIED (CONGRATS), now make it your own. Hire your college mascot to make an appearance, bring outdoor games, play your favorite movie soundtracks, better yet- show an outdoor movie! Whatever makes you happy as you celebrate with your peeps- do it!

For a unique guest book- have your guests sign corn hole boards. You may not want a wedding cake- guests love donuts! If you're not a dancer, play games. If you don't want to toss a bouquet or garter, start a new tradition. Maybe there is no way that your best man and maid of honor will do a speech. No worries, have guests fill out memory cards and have the DJ read a few. Don't want a sit down dinner? Hire a food or snack truck and have a full on outdoor picnic/hangout spot. OH SO MANY OPTIONS! If you aren't feeling the creativity, sit down with your planner/coordinator to brainstorm!

When it comes to receptions, there are endless possibilities. Just make sure you weigh your options and think through it as you go! Need help? We are here for all our couples! Give us a call today!

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