Whether you have a large celebration with all the bells and whistles or an intimate gathering with a little more DIY, you’re sure to have a wonderful time. Your reception is a chance to really celebrate your love for your partner and bring together all of your friends and family – some of whom may have never met before. To make it truly spectacular you’ll need to put in some time and effort to create the perfect party. We've done the hard work to bring you the ultimate wedding reception cheat sheet.
It’s the one night in your life that everyone you care about and everyone your partner cares about will get together all in the one place to celebrate your love and happiness. It is an opportunity to show them all how much you appreciate them by wining and dining them and spoiling them with laughs, entertainment and a beautiful location. So how do you make sure this party will be nothing short of fantastic? We know you’ve heard it before, but the answer’s planning, planning and more planning. Start by deciding on the style of reception you would like and work your way up from there.
What style of reception?
There are as many different styles of reception as there are hours in the day. It all depends on how many guests you would like to invite and the atmosphere you want to create – will it be replete with traditional customs or more relaxed? And what type of food do you enjoy most? Do you want to have a sunset wedding followed by pre-dinner cocktails, a formal sit-down dinner and dancing? Or how about a buffet, informal dinner, breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or cocktail party? The time of day and the venue you choose will follow from these decisions.
Choosing the perfect venue
Brides and grooms are truly spoilt when it comes to choosing a reception venue, especially in the Hunter. You need to find one that expresses your individuality and has the atmosphere you believe best suits your style. There are four and five-star hotels, function centres, clubs, restaurants, sporting venues, historic buildings, halls, cultural venues, galleries, museums, National Parks, beautiful gardens, beaches, yachts, marquees, backyards and vineyards. Some venues have limited menus, some boast culinary delights fit for a royal banquet and for others you’ll need to organise your own caterers and party hire.
If you’re unsure where to begin when choosing a venue, ask friends and family for suggestions, get recommendations from wedding professionals and check out our blog for heaps of ideas.
Make a list of those that look interesting, check out their websites, ring and speak to the Function Coordinator and ask them to send you a wedding kit. Once you have done this, you should be able to make a shortlist of a handful of venues that are worth visiting.
Always make an appointment before going to visit a venue. The venue operator should give you a tour, show you menus and tell you about different packages.
Discuss your concept, style and numbers with venue operators to see whether the reception you have in mind is feasible. Where possible, ask to see videos and photographs of previous events held at the venue. Get client references. Let the venue operators know about any special requirements you have, such as disabled access needs, specialist equipment, staging or lighting, unusual performances, an early or elaborate set-up, or particular parking needs. Ask about venue restrictions – opening times, noise levels, consumption of alcohol, under-age or child patrons, parking, access for set up, outdoor lighting and particular types of performances or equipment. Make sure the venue has all the proper licences, permits and insurance. Get a detailed costing on the package, including special conditions, cancellation fees and overtime charges.
If you plan on hiring a popular venue, book well in advance, as good venues in prime locations tend to get hired out months (or even years). Especially for peak seasons and significant dates!
The guest book
Including a guest book makes a touching keepsake for the bride and groom. Everybody at the reception is asked to write a message and sign their name in the book, which may be purchased at department stores and good stationers. If you are having a receiving line, your guest book could be placed at the end of the line, or alternatively, the best man or M.C. can ask guests to write in the book before they leave.
Click here for some of our helpful wedding planning tools to make the process a little easier!