Thursday, August 22, 2013

Planning your Reception: A step by step guide

Photo TWK Studio

Your wedding reception is the most expensive and memorable party that you’re ever likely to plan. If you would like it to run as smoothly as possible, it’s time for some very careful planning!

Step 1: Save The Date 
First things first, before anything you will have to decide on your wedding date. Nothing else can be planned let alone booked until you have this finalised. if you dream of having a spring wedding you will have to book things as soon as possible. Early September and October are the busiest months for weddings, which could possibly have an impact on a number of your important details and decisions.

Step 2: The Guest List 
Every bride and groom want to be surrounded by their closest friends and family on their big day. Trouble is, who makes the all important guest list when there’s a budget to stick to?

Fantasy Vs Reality: 
The number of guests you’d like to invite and the number you can actually afford to invite are often two completely different things! Determine the exact number of guests your budget – and venue – will allow.

Lists, Lists, and More Lists: 
Split the list between you, your partner and both sets of parents. People who are not so important to you may really matter to your parents, in-laws or even grandparents – after all, it’s not every day that a family member gets married. Just prepare yourself for a few polite negotiations, and don’t be afraid to be firm in your final decision.

Include all Members of the Wedding Party: 
You'd be pleasantly surprised just how many soon-to-be married couples forget to include themselves and their bridal party in their guest list!

Children or No? 
If you would like to include children in your guest list, consider putting aside a separate play area for them at your reception (complete with toys and little games), or hire a responsible sitter for a few hours to keep them well occupied. if you’re wanting a child-free wedding day, it’s very important to tell your guests – it’s a good idea to add a line to your invitations that says: “Adult-only event.”

The Final Cut: 
This is the inevitable hair-pulling, anxiety-triggering part for many brides and grooms. If uninvited acquaintances politely pester you to attend, kindly let them know that you would have loved to have been able to invite more guests, but simply couldn’t afford to. A fabulous alternative is to invite everyone to the ceremony and cocktail party, and then just a select number of those closest to you to the dinner afterwards.

Recruit an Organiser: 
When it comes to posting your invitations, choose one person to handle this often mammoth task. The mail-out should be done all at once, checking each invitation against a list to ensure no-one is accidentally forgotten. As the RSVPs start to filter in, have your delegated organiser keep a list of those who will be attending, and those who won’t be for whatever reason. this will assist in keeping track of final guest numbers. 

Step 3: Perfect Timing 
Photo: Studio Impressions Photography
If your budget is really tight, you can have a wedding breakfast/brunch at a restaurant at around 9 am which of course means that you’re going to have to hold your ceremony quite early. This option wouldn’t work in winter but could be wonderful in summer or on a crisp spring or autumn morning. This is the least expensive option as you can serve loads of lovely fresh fruit salad, yummy pastries ... in fact just about anything that’s light and fresh accompanied by champagne and lashings of coffee with the cake.

A morning wedding ceremony followed by a sit-down lunch or an afternoon ceremony with a stand-up cocktail party are the next lower-cost options but the most popular is a mid to late afternoon ceremony followed by a sit-down dinner and dancing. The timing of your wedding is completely up to you and as long as you celebrate it in the style and the way that you want, it doesn’t matter if it’s a picnic in the park or a bang-up ball, as long as you have fun.

Step 4: Seating Plans 
When it comes to the final seating plan, you may want to involve both sets of parents as they are bound to have ideas on who should sit with whom (and who should be separated!). Their thoughts and advice will hopefully make this difficult, time-consuming, but oh-so-important task a little easier! 

You should advise your reception venue of the layout of the tables well in advance and on the day, they will place the seating plan on an easel for the guests to see as they come in for the meal. if it is free seating at the designated table you won’t need to have place cards but if you are particular about who sits next to whom, then the staff will also place corresponding place-cards on the tables beforehand. 

Photo from the wedding of Carolyn and Nick, SR Photography
Step 5: The Big Day! 
To ensure everything runs as smoothly as a well planned event should, you’ll need to draw up a timetable of what happens when.

Usually straight after the ceremony the photographer will take shots of the couple with the bridal party, parents, grandparents and all the guests before whisking the couple away to a chosen location for staged photos. At this time the guests are usually left to their own devices for at least an hour and often more, so it’s a good idea to organise cocktails and canapés at the reception venue for them.

It Runs Like This: 
The announcement is made by the MC,“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr & Mrs ... " Guests applaud as the couple make their way around the room to greet their guests. After the couple have settled in the MC starts the speeches and hands the microphone onto the next speaker and so on. The cake is then cut and then everyone sits down to enjoy a relaxing dinner.

Speeches and Cutting the Cake:
traditionally the speeches and cake cutting come after dinner is finished but why not break with tradition and do things a little differently combining both of them with the cocktail hour?

The Bridal Waltz: 
After dinner the couple’s first dance as man and wife is announced. After they have been around the floor a couple of times the groom then dances with his mother and mother-in-law, the bride dances with her father and father-in-law and then the rest of the bridal party and guests join in.

The Farewell: 
Before the couple leave the bride throws the bouquet to all the single women and the groom throws the bride’s garter to the single men. It’s up to the couple if they want to have a formal going away. It's not often that you see the old tin cans tied to the car now as most couples catch a taxi or hold the reception where they are staying. Of course it’s up to you if you want to party on but do make sure to let your guests know if this is the case.

Photo from the wedding of Steven and Kellie, Adore Photography

WORDS: Rhonda Bannister & Ginny Cumming

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