The reception can be the most memorable part of a wedding. Follow these steps to make sure yours shines!
1. Set the Date
Set the date for the wedding well in advance. This is important for giving everyone time to adequately prepare. You should also set the date before you start looking for party tent rentals or a place to host the reception.
If you will be hosting the wedding somewhere other than the outdoor party tent rental (such as a church), you will want to plan this well in advance. Venues can be booked as far as a year ahead of time, so you can’t get started too soon.
Take into consideration when the wedding will occur -- the time of year and the day of the week especially. Winter weddings can be cheaper than summer weddings, but of course, if you’re hosting the reception in a party tent rental, that might not work in your area. It’s also helpful to note that since Saturday is the most popular day for weddings, you could save money by planning yours for a Sunday.
2. Define Your Budget
You will need a budget for the reception that’s separate from the overall wedding budget so everyone knows exactly what they can spend and how to plan.
3. Define the Key Elements of the Reception
Some things you will have to consider at this stage of planning is the location, style, and agenda for the reception.
If you’re looking at party tent rentals, then you’ve probably already decided to have an outdoor reception. However, you might want to have a backup option ready just in case the weather gets bad right before the event.
Another question to ask is whether you want the reception to be a formal one or more casual. This will define the structure and style of the reception.
Other questions to ask are: will there be a toast to the new couple? Will the bride and groom, and perhaps their families, be formally announced to the guests? When and how will the dancing begin? How will photos be taken and shared? Will there be a bouquet or garter toss?
4. The Party Tent Rental
There are two basic kinds of outdoor event tents, both of which you can get from a party tent rental service: frame tents (such as clearspan tents) and pole tents (this includes tensile tents).
A sales representative can help you decide on the best party tent rental for your reception.
5. Seating Arrangements
If you’re having a sit-down dinner, managing seating arrangements can be very demanding and complicated, so this is something you’ll want to figure out well in advance.
Will the bride and groom sit at a “sweetheart table” facing the guests? Or will they be seated with the bridal party? Alternatively, many couples prefer to place their table directly among the guests for a more up-to-date feel.
Take special care for seating elderly and disabled guests -- make sure they can get to their places easily, and that they won’t be too close to any speakers who may need to get up from the table.
If you have certain guests who don’t get along well, or simply to avoid complications altogether, you can use place setting cards with names on them to show everyone where they should sit.
6. The Reception Menu
The food at a reception is one of the most important parts, as the menu items can become something that people will talk about for years to come.
Choosing a menu can be fun, but you’ll want to be aware of any dietary restrictions some of the guests might have.
You will need to decide whether the food will be served in a buffet-style setting, or if it will be brought to people’s tables by servers.
7. The Wedding Cake
Generally, there will be a smaller, separate table where the wedding cake will be cut. You will need to decide whether the cake will be treated like a dessert for the dinner, or if guests will be given a piece to take home with them at the end of the reception. Make sure a photographer is prepped and ready when the cake is cut so they can capture the experience.
There you have it -- seven steps to planning and preparing for a successful wedding reception.