Wedding venue planning is not as simple as choosing where you want to hold your reception. If you need help with that, How to choose the right wedding reception venue is your first read. I talked about the things to consider when choosing your reception venue.
If your venue is chosen, then how do you make that venue work for you? Well, it does require a bit of thinking on your part but I’ve made it easier for you. I’m sharing the 5 most important wedding venue planning elements you need to consider and how you can implement them.
1. Decide on the type of reception you’d like to have.
If you haven’t decided on what your reception will look like and you’ve already chosen your venue, then you must do that now. Knowing what you must work with as far as your room goes, what is the best way to entertain your guests? Think – eating, nibbling, dancing, mingling, etc.
Two of the most popular receptions are a sit-down meal or cocktail-style party. Other ideas that are trending now are outdoor BBQs, Brunch receptions, Afternoon tea or Champagne and Cake receptions. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination and budget!
Once you know the type of reception you’re having, then it’s time to start booking your vendors.
2. Book the Biggies First
First thing on your “to do” list is to book the venue (if you haven’t already) and hire a caterer. Depending on your venue, the catering may be included, then your next step is to choose the menu. If not, then you have to start interviewing caterers with your theme and budget in hand.
And while you’re at it, this is ideal in your wedding venue planning timeline to decide on basic décor. What comes with the venue (think tables, chairs, linens, ambiance)? What will you have to bring in – draping, flowers, backdrops?
In your wedding venue planning, it’s important to get everything in writing and everyone understands what’s included. Make sure you have signed contracts from all your vendors. Read the fine print and get all your questions answered to everyone’s satisfaction.
3. Draw up your Floor Plan
Now’s the time for pencil and paper or use the app for the venue if there is one and draw up your floor plan. What’s your vision for your reception?
How do you want things to be laid out?
- Long tables or round ones?
- Head table or sweetheart table?
- Where is the buffet going if there is one?
- Dance floor?
- Band or DJ space?
You get the idea. This floor plan will help answer some of your most important questions like # of guests, table size, type of music, cake space.
This is also the time to decide if you are having a buffet or sit-down dinner. You’ll need room for buffet tables and room for people to line up or servers to get to the tables. Ask you venue for some guidance on this as they know best how the dinner portion is best laid out.
Tip: Allow 10 to 15 square feet per person if using round tables that seat 6 to 10 guests. By choosing long tables no wider than 36 inches, you’ll have less space to decorate therefore cutting down on centerpieces. Plus guests will find conversation easier as well.
Also check that the dance floor is big enough (4 to 5 square feet per guest is about right).
4. Create a Timeline
As you are planning your wedding reception, you need to decide what you’ll do when. Write it all on a timeline and make sure you are reasonable about the allowable times you are giving to each area. You don’t want to be rushed but on the other hand you don’t want long gaps of nothingness. Include things like
- delivery times for your decorator, cake and flowers;
- your photographer – before and during photos;
- dining time, cocktail hour (or 30 minutes);
- toasts, dancing;
- garter and bouquet toss,
- cutting of the cake.
There are lots of things to consider so give it the time it deserves. Once you have it drawn up and finalized, give it to your photographer, wedding planner, DJ/MC and reception site manager, so everyone stays on the same clock.
5. Plan the menu
By now, you should have a good idea of what your wedding reception will look like and how things will pan out. This is the time to start planning your food choices. Remember that you will have some people with dietary restrictions, so be prepared to provide vegetarian, gluten-free, and other possibilities. Check with your guests in advance for advice concerning allergies.
Even if you are having a cocktail reception that include nibbles and finger food, there still should be a vegetarian and non-vegetarian option available.
Again, how is the food being served – buffet style or serving at a table? You can also offer various options such as placing larger servings on the table for guests to help themselves from, or have the servers bring the platters and guests serve from them.
Following these wedding venue planning tips means getting the larger tasks done now. That’ll allow you to focus on the smaller details. And we all know there are lots of those!
If you need some help in getting your wedding planning on the right path, download my Free 6 Must-Have Tips to avoid the overwhelm in your wedding planning.