Monthly Archives: February 2021

bride above a beautiful wedding reception

How to Plan an Amazing “Wedding Reception Only”

This guide is for couples who want a small wedding ceremony and are planning a “wedding reception only.” While the “only” part may make the planning sound easier, it’s still an overwhelming wedding planning task (but it doesn’t have to be!) We’ve broken down the task of planning a wedding reception only into a few easy steps, plus provided a few checklists and apps that keep you on track.

Where to Start Planning a Wedding Reception Only

It doesn’t matter why you decided to plan a wedding reception only or where your wedding ceremony was (though plan on answering a LOT of questions about it at the reception). The steps for planning a wedding reception only are the same, though they can get mixed around. (Except for the first step!)

Talk with your fiancé.

The first step of planning a wedding reception only is to have a conversation with your fiancé. Discuss with your fiancé key details, such as the location, wedding style, wedding budget, size of wedding reception, and other key wedding details. (Here is a complete list of questions to ask before planning your wedding reception.) This discussion is your chance to have an honest talk about your finances and anything else you or your fiancé really want at the wedding.

Choose your wedding date and venue.

The next steps are to set a wedding date and choose a wedding venue—and these steps are totally interchangeable! Some couples have their heart set on a wedding date and make a list of wedding venues that are available (plus fit their estimated guest count and budget) on their wedding date. Other couples contact their favorite wedding venues and ask what dates are open, then choose one of the available dates. The exact sequence is up to you; if you’re stuck, here is a complete guide for choosing the best wedding venue and selecting the right wedding date.

Set a schedule.

Do you want a wedding reception with a cocktail hour and dinner? Or a dance only? The answer to these questions can help you set a schedule for your wedding reception, which you can relay to your wedding vendors when you hire them. (Professional tip: always leave plenty of time for photos. Your wedding photographer can give you an exact estimate of the amount of time needed.) Typically, the wedding reception schedule is something like this: cocktail hour, meal, dance (with cutting of cake). (Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the wedding reception order of events.)

Hire the best vendors and entertainment.

The next step is to start hiring vendors and entertainment. Typically, this list includes a caterer, photographer, videographer (optional), entertainment (i.e. DJ, band, DIY), bakery (for cake), florist (if applicable), and reception décor vendor. Some couples might also need to hire staff (i.e. bartender, coat check, etc.) if staffing is not provided by the wedding venue. (Use this guide to hire the best wedding vendors for your big day.) If this checklist feels overwhelming, it’s okay to hire a wedding planner. Some wedding venues even have planners on staff, which is a big help because they are already familiar with the venue and local vendors.

Wedding Reception Only Tips

  • Organize, organize, organize! Make a binder with all your paperwork (i.e. contracts, receipts, wedding planning checklist, etc.) or establish an electronic storage system. You can also use a wedding planning app to stay on top of deadlines and details.
  • Be creative about telling your story, including your wedding ceremony, at the wedding reception. There are so many options, such as a video or photo board.
  • Plan on wording your wedding invites just a bit differently than a ceremony plus reception invitation. (Use these tips for wedding reception only invite wording.)
  • Set up a wedding website with helpful information for your guests, such as the cost of parking, directions to the venue, etc. (Here is a complete list of items you should include in your wedding website.)
  • Spice up your wedding entertainment with table trivia, lighting, photo booth, dance floor games, or one of these other fun wedding entertainment ideas for an enjoyable evening.

Wedding Planning Apps & Checklists

Wedding Planning Checklist

Best Wedding Planning Apps/Websites

Wedding Budget Worksheet

Wedding Budget Tips and Tricks

outdoor picture of newlyweds at Milwaukee wedding venue

Start Planning an Amazing Summer Wedding in Milwaukee

A summer wedding in Milwaukee is a beautiful occasion. Even when it’s hot, a summer Milwaukee wedding is an amazing chance to enjoy the outdoors and even bring the outdoors in. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to plan a summer wedding Milwaukee, especially with this step-by-step guide (and a few tips unique to the Brew City!)

How to Plan a Summer Wedding in Milwaukee

It’s important to remember that everyone’s path to a summer wedding in Milwaukee is different. Some of these steps can be switched around, but they all lead to a beautiful summer wedding in Milwaukee.

Choose a date.

Your wedding date is an important part of planning a summer wedding in Milwaukee, but it doesn’t have to be the first step. Couples can select a date and contact the venue and vendors to see if they are available, or contact venues and vendors to see what dates they are available. (If you choose the latter, select a month or season so you have a shorter list of dates.)

If you decide to choose your date first, you can select a summer date based on:

  • The day you met (or another special date)
  • A special day for your family (i.e. parent’s or grandparent’s anniversary, birthday)
  • Date that works with your professional calendar

If the date you choose is taken, remember that you can always choose a Friday, Sunday, or another weekday near your favorite date. (Make sure you send out ‘save the dates’ so your guests get the date on their calendar.)

Select the perfect Milwaukee wedding venue.

The wedding venue is one of the most significant parts of the wedding. It’s the backdrop for almost every part of the wedding (especially if you are searching for a ceremony and reception venue). A wedding venue also plays a huge role in guest comfort—hopefully providing convenient parking, a comfortable setting (in summer, that means cool), and plenty of space for mingling and celebrating.

To find the perfect venue for your summer wedding in Milwaukee, start by deciding your style (elegant, modern, etc.), setting a budget, and making a rough estimate of your guest count. These decisions can be made by talking with your fiancé (plus you can discuss these big wedding details). Then, make a list of wedding venues that fit your criteria and contact wedding venues with a list of venue questions. Once your list of venues is narrowed, set up a in-person tour to see each venue.

Hire a wedding planner.

The next step is contact wedding vendors. This can be done by the couple or by a wedding planner. Fortunately, Milwaukee is full of wonderful wedding planners and wedding venues with on-staff event planners. Both options are a good choice for couples who want help from a professional who can tie all the details together.

If you want to tackle the wedding planning yourself, use these tips for choosing the best wedding vendors in Milwaukee. Some wedding venues require couples to use wedding vendors, while others have an open vendor policy that allows couples to hire and bring in vendors of their choice.

Summer Wedding Tips

Make sure your guests have plenty of ways to cool down.

Guest comfort should be one of your top priorities when planning a summer wedding in Milwaukee. Put out plenty of cool water, fans, and other supplies to cool down guests. If you’re planning an indoor wedding reception, choose a venue with air conditioning and make sure the walk from the parking lot to the venue is short. (And make sure there is parking!)

Make sure you leave time in the schedule to get beautiful pictures.

Milwaukee is full of amazing spots for wedding pictures. Leave enough time in your wedding day schedule for getting some memorable shots, and look for a wedding venue with beautiful settings for photo ops.

Stay cool.

While you want to look glamorous, be careful not to overdress. Choose light and cool wedding attire so you don’t have a meltdown—and make sure you take time to take a break and cool off during the day.

Plan for a light menu, but don’t plan too light.

It’s normal to plan for a lighter meal with fresh seasonal tastes, but make sure you don’t leave guests hungry.

Pack for emergencies.

A summer wedding in Milwaukee can throw a few curve balls your way, so make sure you pack an emergency kit for those “what ifs.” Your kit should contain a stain remover, plenty of deodorant, small sewing kit, and few other much-needed wedding day emergency kit supplies.