Monthly Archives: November 2019

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

How long is a wedding reception?

Planning a wedding reception timeline is about piecing together all those wonderful details into the perfect wedding day timeline. It starts with “how long should our wedding reception be?” (a reception should last 4-5 hours) and ends with an amazingly coordinated wedding reception that fits your unique style.

How to plan a wedding reception

Choose the right wedding venue

A spectacular wedding reception starts with an amazing backdrop, though the amazing shouldn’t end there. The right location comes with a wedding venue checklist that should be checked off. You should plan on asking wedding venue questions about:

  • Availability (use these tips to get a wedding venue if you don’t have your heart set on a particular wedding date)
  • Location (city and area)
  • Style (that matches who you are as a couple)
  • Parking/access to parking (for guest convenience)
  • Interior space for the estimated guest list
  • Spaces for wedding day (restrooms, wedding party suites, etc.)
  • Venue staff availability (for pre-planning and managing activities night of)
  • Cost (ask about amount of time included, overtime fees, and extra charges)
  • Insurance (just in case of an emergency on the wedding day)
  • Vendors (whether there are required vendors or if the couple can bring in their favorites)

If you need wedding planning services (either full or part-time), this is the time to ask if the service is offered and the cost. Remember to always ask about the best way to contact the venue. Wedding planning is full of pre-wedding day calls and e-mails; it’s important to choose a wedding venue that responds quickly to your routine—and emergency—calls.

Start with a wedding day timeline

Every wedding day is different, but there is a general wedding day schedule you can use to start planning your big day:

  • Cocktail Hour
  • Dinner
  • Toasts
  • Cake Cutting
  • Wedding Dances (Wedding Party Announcement, First Dance, Mother-Son Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Etc.)
  • Last Dance
  • Cake Cutting

Select the right vendors

The next step in planning a wedding reception is to start selecting the wedding vendors that can make every part of the reception come to life (and capture every moment of it!) Typically, you should book the following vendors:

  • Décor
  • Equipment Rental (such as tables and chairs if the venue does not provide it)
  • Florist
  • Caterer
  • Photographer (and videographer, if desired)
  • Bakery (for cake, if caterer does not provide)
  • Entertainer (band or DJ)

Selecting the right vendors is process; as tempting as it may be to Google and hire vendors, resist the urge. Choosing and hiring wedding vendors requires research and an in-person contacts. As you look for wedding vendors, always be diligent about watching for these red flags:

  • No business address
  • Delay in responding to calls or e-mails
  • Asking for full payment up front (when the charges are substantial)
  • Reluctance to provide customer testimonials or proof of satisfied customers

Be cautious about hiring wedding vendors that you don’t have experience with, such as friends of friends or family members. As well meaning as your friends may be, “my brother can cut you a deal” is a risk that often results in sub-par service.

Contact every potential vendor with a list of questions:

  • What services do you offer?
  • What is included in the quoted cost?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What is your business’ back-up plan in case of an emergency?
  • Do you carry insurance?
  • How should we contact you in the future?
  • Are there any deadline we should be aware of?

If you need assistance finding local vendors, don’t hesitate to contact your wedding venue. An experienced wedding staff member can recommend local wedding vendors that have delivered fantastic services to other couples in the past.

Coordinate the details

Once you have hired your vendors, it’s time to coordinate the details that turn your vision into the wedding reception of your dreams. This is the wedding planning step where you start setting a wedding day schedule, checking off steps on your wedding planning checklist, and looking forward to a very special and spectacular big day.

wedding pictures from beautiful wedding done by wedding vendors

7 Must-Have Free Wedding Planning Printables

A wedding planning binder can be a powerful tool—and an organized one too, with these free wedding planning printables. If you want to tackle every part of your wedding planning—or just select parts with the help of a part-time wedding planner—these sheets are the perfect way to start turning ideas into the day of your dreams.

In addition to these wedding planning printables, couples should also add pockets to the binder for ideas (i.e. pictures of dresses, cakes, etc.), wedding vendor contracts, receipts, and contact information. This is where organization counts! Every item should be arranged so that everything is easy-to-find when needed.

Wedding Discussion Questions

Always use this list of questions FIRST! These questions are the perfect first step that can guide every wedding planning decision. Print out this blog post and write down you and your fiance’s answers (some of those answers might surprise you!); you’ll love to have those answers on-hand as you navigate through the wedding planning process.

Wedding Planning Checklist

A wedding planning checklist is the ultimate step-by-step guide that gives you an idea of when to contact vendors. This can be incredibly helpful as you decide what needs to be done next. If you use a part-time wedding planner, this checklist can help you divvy up tasks and assign deadlines.

Wedding Planning Checklist from Real Simple

Wedding Budget Worksheet

A wedding budget is often one of the most overlooked steps of wedding planning (which is why couples tend to make these wedding budget mistakes). It doesn’t have to be, especially with this wedding budget worksheet that helps you track expenses and stay within your wedding budget.

Wedding Venue Checklist, Tour Checklist & Questions

One of the most important first wedding planning decisions is choosing a venue and ceremony site. In some cases, this location may be one venue (use these tips for choosing the perfect ceremony and reception venue). The wedding venue is the foundation of all those other wedding details, which is why it’s important to select the perfect backdrop for your big day.

As you contact wedding venues, use this list of venue questions that can help you select the sites that fits your timeline, style, budget, and vision for the day.

Never choose a wedding venue without touring the site. This Wedding Venue Tour Checklist is a great aid to make sure you have found a venue that checks off all the boxes.

Wedding Reception Timelines

These wedding reception timelines can be a great start to setting a wedding reception timeline. You can use any of these wedding reception timelines, or customize it into the wedding day of your dreams.

3 Sample Wedding Reception Timelines from Lover.ly