Wedding Reception Checklist

Embarking on the journey of planning your dream wedding reception may seem daunting, but with a comprehensive checklist in hand, you can ensure you have accounted for every detail and your big day runs smoothly. From the essential items like seating and decor to the charming touches like party favors and place cards, each component adds to the magic of your celebration. By ticking off each item on your list, you showcase your meticulous planning skills and create a warm and inviting ambiance that will delight your guests. 

Planning your wedding ceremony and reception can be overwhelming, but don’t forget that you have a team of vendors ready and willing to assist you with every step. Vendors often include a caterer, florist, bartender, and DJ. Whether you choose to delegate to a wedding planner or coordinate with vendors yourself, we’ve got you covered. Using a wedding reception checklist will help guide your budgeting decisions and help ensure a smoother planning process. 

Set a Budget

Determining your wedding budget may not be the most exciting part of wedding planning, but it is definitely one of the most important. Before diving into the fun details like flowers and wedding dresses, you need to know how much money you have to work with for your wedding day. Sit down with your partner and any family members who may be contributing financially, and determine what everyone is comfortable spending. Once you have a total budget in mind, it’s time to start breaking down where that money will go.

Remember, your budget will cover the ceremony and reception expenses. You may also need to include your rehearsal dinner in your budget. Creating a detailed spreadsheet outlining your expenses will help you stay organized and keep track of where your money is going. This step also allows you to prioritize which aspects of the wedding are most important to you and allocate funds accordingly.

Remember that budgets are not set in stone – as you plan, you may find areas where you can save money or decide to splurge a little more on something important to you. Being flexible with your budget while remaining mindful of your overall spending will help ensure a successful and stress-free planning process.

A few things to add to your spreadsheet for the wedding include:

  • Wedding photographer
  • Wedding venue
  • Wedding dress and groom apparel and makeup artist
  • Wedding party transportation
  • Wedding invitations
  • Wedding program
  • Wedding decorations such as flowers, balloons, streamers, and centerpieces

A few things to add to your spreadsheet for the wedding reception include:

  • Reception venue
  • Caterer
  • Bartender
  • Reception entertainment
  • Reception menu
  • Wedding cake and cake topper
  • Wedding favors

It’s best to gather a few quotes for each venue and service you are considering so you have flexibility within the overall budget. To stretch your budget further, consider using the same materials for the wedding and reception. For example, the bridesmaid bouquets can double as head table decor.

Choose a Theme

Choosing a theme for your wedding should reflect your style and personality. For inspiration, dive into wedding websites, glossy magazines, and trendy social media platforms. Mix and match ideas and bring them to life with mood boards or heartfelt conversations with your partner.

Consider your venues as you select colors and decorations. Choose decorations and attire to enhance the atmosphere. For example, if you decide on a more formal event, your wedding party attire will include tuxedos, and you may want centerpieces with long-stem candles. If you prefer a more relaxed wedding style, you may choose a buffet-style meal. A more formal event often includes a cocktail hour and menu cards, whereas a menu chalkboard will enhance the atmosphere for casual wedding festivities. As you consider a wedding theme, make sure your choices fit the atmosphere you’re most comfortable with.

Select a Venue

Are you considering an oceanside wedding ceremony in July? Your guests will appreciate a shaded view. Will you have out-of-town guests? Consider a hotel ballroom or a venue with hotels within walking distance. 

As you visit potential reception venues, ask what wedding vendors each venue coordinator recommends. Do they allow outside catering, or are you limited to the venue’s menu? Is it a priority to have a dance floor? Make sure your event venue has space to dance and sit. 

Create Guest List

Creating a guest list can be challenging, especially when you wish you could invite everyone you know. However, the reality is that there are often limitations based on budget and venue capacity. It’s important to consider how many guests you can realistically afford to host and how many people your chosen venue can accommodate comfortably. Setting boundaries early on will help prevent any overspending or overcrowding on the big day.

Hire a Caterer

Once you’ve confirmed a venue and guest count, you can select a menu and hire a bartender. Word-of-mouth recommendations are a great way to collect possible food vendors. You’ll want to attend a taste-testing event if you aren’t familiar with the caterer.

Hire a Bartender

Your bar menu is a fun opportunity to add a personal touch. Consider working with your bartender to create a signature cocktail. When hiring a bartender, you’ll want to gather quotes and ensure your vendor has the proper licensing and insurance. At BarMasters, we offer instant quotes for service in the lower 48 states. Fill out this form to gather your quote.

Use this wedding reception planning checklist to help reduce stress as you plan your big day, and contact BarMasters for your bartending services.