How to plan a wedding reception

How to plan a wedding receptionAnna December 5th, 2016

Your wedding reception sets the stage for the entire party. Here is a step by step guide to help plan the perfect wedding reception your guests will remember.

Step 1: Set the wedding date before you actually start looking for locations for the reception

Depending on how far in advance you start looking for the perfect spot to celebrate your marriage, some venues may be booked up to a year (or more) in advance, so be ready to choose an alternate date or search for another location.

  • The time of year can significantly affect availability of venues, and generally it’s easier and sometimes less expensive to plan a winter wedding than during the peak season.
  • While Saturday is the most popular day to get married, consider a Sunday wedding, which could also save on your total budget.
Step 2: Determining your reception budget

Once you set the date, you should also start thinking about your overall budget. Many venues carry a minimum so be sure to ask this while you’re looking at venue options. The reception site will also need an estimate of your guest number so that they can give you a better idea of the total cost.

Step 3: Deciding on the key elements of your reception
  • Will you have an indoor or outdoor reception?
    If you choose an outdoor celebration, be sure to have an alternate plan in case of rain.
  • What type of reception do you want to have?
    While a sit down dinner remains the most popular type of reception, other choices to consider are a cocktail reception, breakfast or brunch, a luncheon, or an afternoon tea. Here are some things to consider when choosing the type of reception.
  • Do you want to have a receiving line?
    The good thing about a receiving line is that you can greet all your guests and it gives them an opportunity to congratulate you. However, it can be very time-consuming and many couples today prefer to visit each table instead, which is a less formal alternative to this tradition.
    If you do choose to have a receiving line, the order should be: mother or parents of the bride, mother or parents of the groom, bride, groom, maid of honor, then bridesmaids.
  • Do you want to be officially announced as you enter the reception?This can be a fun way to start off the evening and you can simply be introduced by the DJ or bandleader for the first time as a married couple. Sometimes the introductions include both sets of parents and the bridal party as well, and you can have them all line up on the dance floor to watch you in your first dance, if you choose to go straight into that.
  • Do you plan to have toasts?
    Toasts can be a wonderful moment for the couple and guests, but it’s best to keep them short and sweet. Ideally, they should be made during or in between dinner courses, and kept to two or three at a time.
    Request that anyone giving a toast keep it relatively short and assign someone in your wedding party to keep an eye on the time.
    The bride and groom can also say a few words of thanks just before they cut the cake.
  • When will dancing begin?
    These days, dancing usually begins after dinner is finished, rather than doing dance sets in between courses. Other than your first dance, be sure to select some music that all guests will enjoy, providing a variety for all ages.
  • What types of photos would you like?
    The reception is another opportunity for great photos, so think about any groupings that you might not get to earlier in the day, with some family and friends. You can also let your photographer know if there are any particular details shots you’d like from the reception space.
  • Are you considering a bouquet and/or garter toss?
    This is a tradition that can be fun and get your guests involved, but some couples choose to skip this part of the reception altogether.
Step 4: Making seating arrangements

If you are having a sit-down dinner, sorting out the seating can be quite a task so it’s good to get an early start on this.

  • The bride and groom can either sit alone at a “sweetheart table”, usually facing their guests, or they can join their bridal party at a larger table. However, some couples prefer to place the table amongst the guests for a more modern feel.
  • Parents will usually sit together with close family and friends at their respective tables.
  • Be sure to think about the elderly and their placement so that they are not too close to any speakers or in a location inconvenient for any other reason.
  • While place cards are the most formal way to arrange seating, it may be a great option if you are concerned about placing people next to each other who might not get along, and it can be helpful to the guests as well. Otherwise, escort cards with just the name and table number are a common way to arrange seating and they can choose their own seat at that table.
Step 5: Deciding on your reception menu

To many couples, and their guests, food is one of the most important elements of the reception, and something that everyone will remember for years to come.

Select the food:

  • Choosing a menu can be fun and you can offer your guests something truly special, but remember to keep in mind that some guests might have dietary restrictions and discuss this with your caterer to find out options. It might be a good idea to find out from your guests in advance if they have any allergies or special requirements.
  • For a sit-down dinner, it is typical to have printed menus at the table.
  • You need to decide whether there will be a buffet or plated meals served at the table. There are also other alternatives, such as family-style or food stations, so discuss all these options with your caterer.

Choose where the wedding cake will be placed and decide when it will be cut:

Want your wedding reception to be both memorable and stress free, but don’t know the first thing about throwing a good party? The crucial thing to hosting a fabulous wedding celebration is knowing what’s supposed to happen when. Here’s a handy wedding reception timeline, based on a traditional cocktail hour and a four-hour reception, to give you an hour-by-hour guide to the day’s postceremonial events.

00:00 | The Cocktail Hour

After being pronounced husband and wife, you’re often the first to leave the wedding ceremony, heading off (with photographer in tow) for pictures together before the partying gets under way. Your guests will head to the reception site for cocktails. Depending on the logistics of the event, your cocktail hour will begin immediately (if the ceremony and reception are held at the same venue), or it might start more than half an hour later (if there’s travel involved). Cocktails will kick off your reception and will last for at least an hour. During this time the staff will serve stationary or passed appetizers and drinks, which will get people mingling and in the mood.

The 15 Best Dave Matthews Band Songs for Your Wedding

01:00 | Newlyweds’ Grand Entrance

Here’s the part where you make your grand entrance. The coordinator will usually make sure guests are seated before the emcee alerts them to your imminent arrival. Generally, both sets of parents and the wedding party are introduced, followed by the announcement of you both for the first time as a married couple. This is not only one of the most special parts of your day as you are officially introduced as newlyweds, but adhering to this timeframe on your wedding reception timeline is especially important as it will help set the pace for the events that follow.

01:10 | First Dance

In many cases, your newlywed first dance will begin as you step out onto the floor and into the spotlight after being announced. Alternately, you can wait until after the first course of the meal is served, but since everyone is already cheering you as you enter the reception, use the applause as encouragement enough to skim away any shyness and step on out. Need some song inspiration? Don’t miss our list of our favorite first dance songs!

Also, during this portion of the reception timeline, some couples like to switch partners and invite their parents on the dance floor for their parent dances, and others prefer to do so after dinner to help encourage guests out on the dance floor.

01:20 | Cheers & Toasts

Following your first dance, you might want to take the opportunity—while all eyes are still on you, since hopefully no one yet has had too much to drink—to thank everyone en masse for taking part in your wedding. A family member, often a parent of the bride, will say a blessing (depending on the families’ faiths). Then, since toasting signifies a transition in the course of an event, the mother and father of the bride will thank guests for attending and invite everyone to enjoy the celebratory meal. Keep in mind that the toasts given by the best man and the maid of honor should occur between courses, to spread out all the high-emotion, much-anticipated moments and keep guests in their seats.

01:30 | Mangia, Mangia

Time to dig into the main course. If you’re having a seated meal, the band or DJ will play subdued, conversation-friendly background music as the waitstaff makes the rounds. If you’re having a buffet, your coordinator, DJ, or bandleader will dictate how the rotation will work by calling each table when it’s time to head to the front of the line. Just remember: You need to do everything possible to take their seats and eat!

02:30 | Parent Dances

If you didn’t already take a spin on the dance floor with your parents, after dinner is the prime time to squeeze it into your wedding reception schedule. This special dance number will draw everyone’s attention to the dance floor, and there’s a good chance there won’t be a dry eye in the room! Check out our suggestions for some of the best father daughter dance numbers and mother son dance tunes. Once you and your partner have taken turns dancing with your respective partners, invite your guests to join you on the dance floor. You can time this portion of your wedding reception timeline just right to get everyone grooving post dinner seamlessly.

02:45 | Party Time

Monkey-see, monkey-do is how this game is played. Guests are going to follow your lead. Once dinner dishes are cleared, and you have had your partner dances, you should stay on the dance floor, so people know it’s time to start partying. Throughout the dancing, the music will stop for any extracurricular activities you’ve planned in your wedding reception schedule.

03:30 | Bouquet and Garter Toss

Once everyone has had sufficient time to let loose on the dance floor, the bouquet and garter toss can be the next events in your reception timeline if you choose to do them. These activities are steeped in tradition. Keep in mind that they aren’t mandatory. You can always skip them if they don’t suit the style of your reception. If you do choose to toss the bouquet, make sure to get a tossing bouquet from the florist so you can keep your original one as a memento and be sure to choose the perfect bouquet toss song.

04:00 | Cake Cutting

About one hour before the conclusion of the reception, when the party starts getting a little rowdy, your waitstaff should start preparing tables for coffee and dessert. Since the cake cutting generally signals guests that it’s okay to leave soon thereafter, don’t do it too early or things could start wrapping up before you’re ready.

04:15 | Shake a Leg

Once the cake is cut, the band or DJ should jump right back in to more music for those wanting to trade in their slices for another turn on the dance floor. 04:45 | Last Dance Don’t just cut the music when it’s time for everyone to leave. Schedule a last dance into your wedding reception timeline to signal to guests it’s time to go home (or head to the after party!). End your wedding on a high note and choose a dance song that will leave a lasting impression. You’ll want everyone to have a chance for one last twirl, so select something fast and festive.

05:00 | Final Farewell

Now it’s time to say goodbye. Your coordinator will usher everyone into the foyer or onto the steps outdoors so that as you make your grand exit from the reception, friends and family can blow bubbles, light sparklers, or toss rose petals—and cheer to your successful celebration and future together.

How to plan a wedding reception

When brainstorming for this month’s free printable I looked back at the templates of mine that have been downloaded the most by Budget Savvy Brides. The elegant place cards that I shared back in June of 2013 were the clear winner. Today’s templates are in the same style, but I’ve expanded the download to include a full reception set. You can use any combination of the place cards, table numbers, and seating chart.

Wedding Invitation Money-Saving Hack:

DIYing your wedding invitations and paper goods is a great way to save money. This project is particularly savvy because it is a black and white file which makes for super cheap printing! Your printer will only need to use black ink for this design. Pro tip: set your printer to grayscale to save your colored ink! Otherwise, your printer will pull in Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow as well to create a richer black, which is truly unnecessary.

Print this black and white design on any paper that you like! Tie in your wedding colors, use patterned paper, or go with chic, simple white cardstock as shown in this tutorial.

The seating chart fits on 11 x 17” paper, which is too large for most home printers to handle. Send or take the file to your local copy store for inexpensive printing.

Using coordinating pieces throughout your big day is one way to give a budget wedding luxurious style. And coordinating your reception couldn’t be any easier with these free printable wedding reception templates in an elegant regal scroll design!

Related: Money-Saving Tips for Your Wedding Invitations

Make Your Own Wedding Paper Details
with these Printable Reception Templates



How to plan a wedding reception

Download the place card file and open in MS Word or Mac Pages. Enter your guest names. I used the font Garamond, but you can use any font that you like. If you have a font that you are using throughout your wedding, such as on invitations, programs, and thank you cards, you can match the font on your reception printables.

Print the file on your chosen paper.

Tip: Use a heavier card stock than standard copy paper. I find a weight of 65 lbs to 90 lbs to work best as it’s heavy enough to give some strength to the paper, but still able to easily be printed on your home printer without causing paper jams.

How to plan a wedding reception

Cut each sheet in half and in half again so you end up with four place cards. A paper cutter is the quickest way to do this as you can cut more than one sheet at once, so head to your local FedEx Office store and make use of their cutter (you’ll probably be there anyway printing the seating chart on their large scale printer).

Scissors will work just fine too though.

How to plan a wedding reception

Fold each card in half and stand it up. Congratulations, your place cards are now ready to go.


How to plan a wedding reception

The table numbers are even easier to put together than the place cards, as no folding is required. Download the template and add your table numbers in MS Word. If you are naming your tables rather than using numbers, you can replace the number with the table name. You will need to change the font size and reposition the text box to line everything up neatly. Print, and cut in half and in half again as you did with the place cards.

Display the table numbers using your favorite stand. A few of my favorite ideas for stands can be seen here.


How to plan a wedding reception

The seating chart is also simple to put together. Download the template and open in your word processing program. I’ve set the layout as an alphabetized table. The easiest way to get your guest names and table numbers into the chart is to create an alphabetized list in Excel, then copy and paste the columns in. When you are happy with your formatting save the file and either put it on a thumb drive or email it to the copy shop of your choice. The seating chart will fit best on 11 x 17” paper and chances are your home printer won’t print something this large. A quick trip to your local FedEx Office with the file on a thumb drive solves this problem. And you can use their paper cutter for your place cards and table numbers while you are there.

Now with very little effort (and very little expense), you will have a perfectly coordinated reception with no one spinning aimlessly in the center of the room trying to figure out where they should go! Enjoy!

How to plan a wedding reception

On top of the million other things you need to plan for your wedding, now you also need to come up with the perfect order of events for wedding reception.

Steal this flawless wedding reception timeline so you have one less thing to worry about.

How To Plan A Wedding Reception Program

How do you get started creating the order of events for wedding reception? Read below to find out .

Identify what you want first

There are many traditions that exist for weddings. Bouquet toss, garter toss, cutting the cake, sparkler exit… If you did them all, your wedding reception could last all day!

Don’t feel obligated to include everything just because “you feel like you have to”. If you don’t really care about cake cutting but want to play a fun game with all your guests instead, do it!

For me, I cared a lot about having a fun dance party so I chose to exclude the garter or bouquet toss since those things didn’t matter to me.

Evaluate your time with venue

Some venues limit how long you can be there.

You definitely don’t want to go over on your time and have to pay extra. It could add up to be an extra hidden wedding cost that you weren’t prepared for.

Plan for 4-6 hours

If you will be providing a meal to your guests, plan for a wedding reception to last 4-6 hours.

Make sure you have a wedding timeline template to help plan out not just the wedding reception, but the entire wedding day timeline!

How to plan a wedding reception

What is the order of a wedding reception program?

This order of events for wedding reception can be followed when creating your own wedding reception timeline. The next section goes more in detail to each of these.

  1. Cocktail Hour (1 hour)
  2. Seat guests (15 min)
  3. Entrances (5-10 min)
  4. Announcements + start dinner (10 min)
  5. Serve dinner (1 hour)
  6. Speeches (15-30 min)
  7. Cake cutting + serve dessert (15 min)
  8. First dances (20 minutes)
  9. Extras
  10. Dancing

Order Of Events For Wedding Reception Format

The following reception format is what you will see in a “traditional” wedding reception program. Keep in mind you’re welcome to remove, add, or modify anything to fit your own personal style!

Cocktail Hour

This offers guests the ability to get drinks, mingle, and eat some Hors d’oeuvres if you’re offering it. It’s the time when they find their seats, leave a note in your unique guest book, go to the bathroom, etc.

It also allows for driving time in between the ceremony and reception if they’re in different locations.

Seat Guests

Announce that it’s time for people to gather in their seats. I find that guests enjoy having an assigned table so they know where to go, but then you don’t need to go so far as to assign the seat for them.

I used these cheap table tents for my table numbers since they could stand on their own. It’s one of many cheap wedding ideas that helped me save thousands on my wedding.

How to plan a wedding reception


If you are having your bridal party enter together into the room, start with your wedding party, followed by your maid of honor and best man, then finally the bride and groom.

If you do a sweetheart table (which we did), then you don’t need to have a bridal party entrance.

Announcements + Start Dinner

Once you guys are all seated, have your DJ or designated MC make announcements. This could include things like:

  • How long drinks will be served
  • Where the bathrooms are
  • A reminder to sign the guest book

At this point, announce the start of dinner to your guests. This could be in the form of a prayer, blessing, or just letting everyone know dinner will start.

Note: if you’re having a buffet, let your guests know that you will be dismissed by table so there’s not a mad rush.

Serve Dinner

As the bride and groom, you generally get your meal first. We used the opportunity to eat then walked around to greet guests at their table.


Once dinner starts, you can have speeches soon after. I personally would have speeches during dinner since it’s a good way to keep people listening. Alternatively, you can have it after dinner, such as during dessert.

Order of wedding reception speeches

It’s totally up to you how many speeches you’d like to have. Traditionally, you could include:

  1. Bride’s parents
  2. Groom’s parents
  3. MOH
  4. Best Man

Cake Cutting + Serve Dessert

Guests generally prefer dessert right after dinner. To avoid a large gap between dinner and dessert, serve the cake or dessert an hour after dinner starts.

First Dances

After you’ve cut the cake, you can start the dances! Now is a good time since people will be eating their cake or other desserts.

Order of wedding dances at reception

  1. Mother and son
  2. Father and daughter
  3. Bride and groom


This is when you can have any extra traditions that you’d like such as garter toss or bouquet toss.


I recommend having dancing after the extras. If you start the dancing then break it off for any extras, it breaks up the dancing and makes it harder to get people back on the dance floor.

Use this order of events for wedding reception and your reception will flow seamlessly!

Looking forward to a night of fun and unforgettable memories at your wedding reception? Make sure you send the right message while inviting your friends and family. Check out these Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples for more!

How to plan a wedding reception

How to plan a wedding reception

How to plan a wedding reception

Your reception ceremony is one that celebrates the fact that you’ve gotten married. This particular event does not hold any religious significance, so you do not have to worry about any specific rituals or Pujas. In its essence, the reception is a party and that’s what you need to keep in mind when going through Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples too.

Though many people send out a bunch of invites together for different functions, we believe that personalising each one to suit the spirit of the function is a great way to invite people. If you’re not exactly sure what goes into a reception invite, then check out these Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples and take inspiration from the same.

1. The traditional wording sample

How to plan a wedding reception

“Deepika and Rahul request the pleasure of your company at their wedding reception on 29th June 2019, at the Hyatt Regency, Delhi. We would love to have you be a part of the celebration of our love and the union of our families.”

“(Event details: Venue address, time, and miscellaneous information that your guests may need).”

Now, when it comes to Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples, this invite is pretty traditional and is ideal for couples who want to keep it short and sweet.

Using a traditional wedding card can help you stay within the boundaries of this vibe. However, if you want to personalise the card even further, you can always include a picture of the two of you as a part of the design.

2. The youthful wording sample

How to plan a wedding reception

We got hitched! After three years of dating and a fantastic wedding ceremony, Preeti and Rajan have now tied the knot! As they gear up to celebrate their marriage and love, they’d love to have you over to be a part of their memories. So, dress up to the nines and prepare yourself for a wild night!”

“Meet us at Smoke House Grill in Greater Kailash 2 for a night that you’ll always remember. See you there!”

“(Event details: venue address, time, and miscellaneous information that your guests may need).”

These Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples capture your energy and love of life. It is a great way for you to show your guests your personality and invite them to a party that has been thrown in your honour.

To be fair, most couples today believe that the opportunity to personalise most religious wedding functions is quite sparse. So, this can be a great way for you to show your new friends and family what the two of you bring to the table as a couple.

3. The Humble and sweet wording sample

How to plan a wedding reception

“With true love in their hearts, and a great future on their mind, Sujata and Varun have embarked on one of the most special journeys that life has to offer: the journey of togetherness. Our hearts and souls united, we are extremely ecstatic about celebrating our union with our friends and family, at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, on Man Singh Road Avenue.”

“Please join us and share your blessings at 9:00 pm. (After this, you can write about specific event details like the directions to the hotel and any other information that you believe your guests should know about your reception.)”

This piece among Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples is one that highlights your love for each other and invites others to be a part of it.

What better way to ask someone to be a part of your reception party? If you like the basic idea of this Indian wedding reception invitation wording sample, you can also look for love quotes or marriage quotes online and add those to the beginning of the invitation.

It will add that extra layer of emotion that you may want.

4. The Religious wording sample

How to plan a wedding reception

“ With the grace of God, Mukul and Richa have joined hands and taken their marriage vows. It is with deep pleasure and a lot of gratitude that we invite you to their reception ceremony on 31 July 2019.”

“Please be a part of our celebrations at Tivoli Gardens to shower them with your blessings and love. (Event details like venue directions, time, and other information to follow here).”

Like this one? Among Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples, this one is a great idea for couples and their families to invite their guests while ensuring a traditional touch to the invitation. When you’ve thanked and prayed to God during each wedding function, why forget Him (or Her) during the final celebration?

These Indian wedding reception invitation wording samples are meant to guide you in the right direction as far as the vibe of the invite is concerned. However, for a truly great wedding invitation card designs, you must write from the heart and include tidbits of information that is specific to the couple.

Once you’ve figured out the basic wording for your card, get in touch with our wedding card designers for the rest!

This guide will help you find the ideal seating arrangements for your big day.

1 of 9

Many brides-to-be obsess over their place settings, centerpieces, and linens, but there’s one reception detail they may be overlooking. In order to create a truly stunning tablescape, you first need to choose the right tables. That may sound simple enough, but selecting tables to complement the overall vibe of your reception can be harder than you’d think.

First, you need to understand your choices. Round, rectangular, and square are the most popular options, and each suits a different type of celebration. To make things more complicated, there are variations within these groups. For instance, you can decide to have a king’s table, in which you, the groom, and your wedding party sit on just one side and face the rest of your attendees. Sweetheart tables, which are most often round or square, are just for the bride and groom. Want something a little different? Serpentine tables may be the option for you. You could also mix multiple types of table to create a look that best suits your space.

After you’ve learned about the options available, you’ll need to think about which table type makes the most sense for your wedding’s style and your guests. For an intimate bash, one long table might make the most sense, but if you’re having a big party and need to seat 200 attendees, a mix of round and rectangular tables might be the better option for making the most of your space.

To help you better understand which type of reception table is right for your big day, we went out to the pros. Here, wedding planners from AaB Creates and the team at Atlas Event Rental share everything you need to know about each type of table, plus offer their tips for deciding which to use at your wedding.

The countdown to the Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif wedding has begun, with the family of the bride landing in Mumbai ahead of the December 9 nuptials.

With fans hanging on every nugget of information being brandished, a new report by India Today now claims that Kaif and Kaushal will be married in a specially designed gazebo made of glass. According to the report, the mandap (an erected stage for Hindu wedding ceremonies) where Kaif and Kaushal will allegedly circle the sacred fire will be made out of glass, while tents have also been specially ordered from Mumbai, which will be installed inside the hotel.

Due to the intimate nature of the wedding, coupled with COVID-19 restrictions, it’s been reported that only 120 people will be travelling down to Rajasthan to attend the wedding of the two Bollywood stars.

A new report by Times of India adds that the couple will host a grand reception for their industry friends in Mumbai when they return.

Currently, Kaif’s family has landed in Mumbai with her siblings and her mother snapped by the paparazzi outsider the star’s Bandra home. Two nights ago, Kaushal was also pictured outside Kaif’s home but chose to ignore questions from the media and simply waved at the gathered crowds.

The wedding festivities of Kaif and Kaushal will take place between December 7 and 9, according to news reports with Falguni and Shane Peacock designing outfits for the bride.

Earlier in the day, the couple were spotted leaving for Jaipur airport in a helicopter.

How to plan a wedding reception

Agencies Katrina was spotted wearing ‘red chooda’.

Bollywood star couple Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal have begun their new journey together after they tied the knot at Six Senses Fort Barwara in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan in the presence of family and close friends.

The ETimes shutterbugs spotted a glimpse of Mr and Mrs Kaushal on Friday morning when they were leaving from the hotel property to Jaipur airport in a helicopter charter.

According to a report by ANI, the newlyweds are planning a grand reception in Mumbai next week for all their friends from the film fraternity.

As per a source, the couple will resume work after concluding the big bash in the next few days and other wedding festivities.

ANI also reported that right after the ceremony, sweets and laddoos were distributed to the media persons who were present outside the wedding venue.

Reports suggest that the couple took ‘seven pheras’ on Thursday afternoon in the presence of their families and friends. Their pre-wedding festivities started on December 7 (Wednesday) with ‘Mehendi’ followed by a Punjabi-style Sangeet Night on December 8.

2021: The Year That Was

They also shared special moments from their wedding on social media, making the announcement official. The posts read, “Only love and gratitude in our hearts for everything that brought us to this moment. Seeking all your love and blessings as we begin this new journey together.”