Checklist For The Wedding Reception

Weddings and receptions require planning, organization, and follow-through. The best way to keep track of everything is to have a checklist.

As the wedding day approaches, everything happens so quickly; it’s easy to forget or overlook something critical. It’s always a good idea to write everything down and cross it off the list as it gets done. Even if a wedding planner or bridal coordinator is involved, the bride and groom should know what is going on.

A Year Before the Wedding

Make decisions as early as possible. Interview prospective vendors and discuss with each other as well as family members who are involved in the process.

     Informal versus formal reception
     Indoor or outdoor wedding and reception
     Number of guests
     Date and time of reception
     Reception budget
     Cake tasting
     Alcohol or not
     What type of music—band or DJ
     Transportation from wedding to the reception
     Interview photographers and videographers
     Establish wedding registries

Go ahead and make reservations once everything is agreed upon. Most vendors will require a deposit with the contract.

     Reception location
     Bar service
     Band or DJ
     Limo service
     Photographer and videographer
     Baker for the wedding cake

Many brides and grooms are setting up a wedding planning website and email list. This keeps everyone informed on the events as they unfold, without the concern of anyone being left out of the loop. If save-the-date magnets or cards are being used, send them four to six months before the wedding.

Six Months Before the Wedding

Some decisions need to be made in order to secure supplies and food.

     Discuss the menu, linens, decorations, tableware, and glassware with the banquet manager or caterer.
     Decide how to serve the food—sit-down dinner or buffet.
     Go over the cake cutting and how dessert will be served with the banquet manager.
     Discuss the bar arrangements if alcohol is served.
     Decide what to give guests as favors, if any. Place the order.
     Order all stationery that will be needed for the reception. This includes menus, printed napkins, and any other paper accessories.
     Make arrangements for linen rentals if needed.
     All other decorations should be decided on and ordered.

If the reception is held outdoors, there are other important considerations.

     Dance floor
     Tables and chairs
     Lighting—electric, tiki torches or candles
     Barbecue grills if not provided by the caterer

One Month Before the Wedding

Finalize plans and follow up with all the vendors to confirm.

     Seating plan for the head table
     Seating plan for parents of the bride and groom and their families
     Seating plan for guests
     Band or DJ song list

Plan the schedule for all events at the reception.

     Time and place of receiving line
     Introduction to the bridal party
     When to serve food
     Bar schedule
     When toasts will begin
     Who will speak
     Order of speakers
     When the music should begin
     Order of dances (bride and groom’s first dance, the bride and her father, etc.)
     Traditional dances
     Bouquet toss
     Garter toss
     Bride and groom’s getaway

A month before the wedding is also a good time to ask friends to assist with the guest book, guard the wedding gifts, and make sure the gifts are delivered to a designated location that is predetermined.

Make Copies

After everything has been decided, it’s a good idea to make copies for the bride, groom, their parents, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. If everyone is clear on their responsibilities, the event will run much more smoothly.


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