Wedding reception planning tips
- Most importantly, have a good time! Your guests will take their lead from you. If you spend the evening sitting or mingling and chatting, your guests will do the same. However, if they see you & your wedding party dancing and having a good time, they will get up and join you. It really does work this way!
- Be sure you have visited our Pre-Wedding Checklist page (Click on the left)
- Be flexible with your music! Allow your wedding DJ or entertainer to read the crowd. Trying to program the entire evening’s music by choosing too many songs seldom works. You need to allow for guests’ requests and what your DJ or wedding host sees is going over well at your reception. If you are providing a playlist or require special songs be played at specific times, be sure to discuss this well in advance of your wedding, not just a few days before. Your DJ may have other weddings or ceremonies he is preparing for as well so you don’t want him getting confused with last minute changes.
- If you would like, feel free to use our Top 200 songlist (click the link on the left) in conjunction with our wedding questionnaire to give us a good idea about your musical tastes.
- If you are having your ceremony & reception at the same location, do not start things too early. Typically, guests remain comfortable in the same location for six or seven hours at most. Therefore, your ceremony should be in the late afternoon if you are planning on celebrating until midnight or later.
- Summer Weddings: An occasional mistake made by grooms and brides is to plan the dancing of a summer wedding to start in the early evening (eg. 8:00pm) If the sun is up and it is still bright outside, your guests will not be in the “dancing mood”. When planning the evening agenda of your summer reception, you should have your dance start between 9pm or 10pm, depending on time of year. Adjust the start times of your dinner and speeches accordingly. If you need assistance, we will be happy to help.
- Winter Weddings: In contrast to a summer wedding, winter weddings see darkness fall in the late afternoon and early evening. Dancing moods are easily created earlier in the evening, due to the simple fact that is dark outside while it is cozy and dim inside. Many winter celebrations see dances starting around 8pm or 9pm and going until midnight or later.
- If you are using professional wedding service providers (eg. caterers, photographers, DJs etc.) make sure you read the fine print before signing the contract (eg. total cost, cancellation policies, deposits, start & end times of their services etc.)
- Make sure that that the bridal party arrives on time for the ceremony. This is vital. Secondly, if you are going for pictures after the ceremony, try to plan plenty of time for you and your wedding party to arrive at the reception venue on time. Although an entire reception being exactly on time seldom happens, dinner should start close to the time indicated on the invitations. If dinner is late and the speeches run too long, it can significantly change the atmosphere of your reception.
- When deciding on a location for your reception, consider your parking needs, a large enough area to accommodate your guests, a dance floor (these can be rented), noise codes or statutes (most venues in Calgary require liquor service and music to end by 1:00am, but some shut everything down at 12:00am or earlier) handicapped access, cleanup times, and any other needs of your vendors (cooking facilities and electricity for your disc jockey or photographer).
Questions to Ask a Reception Facility:
There are many things to consider with wedding reception planning. Here are some of the other questions to ask before you commit to a particular setting:
- 1. What is the flat fee for use of the space? What are my payment options?
- 2. Is it less expensive to hold my event on an off-day rather than the traditional Saturday?
- 3. Must I use your in-house caterer or can I contract with an off-premise service?
- 4. Does your site charge a per-head catering charge and, if so, how much is it?
- 5. How long is the site mine to use, is there a minimum occupancy requirement, and are there overtime fees?
- 6. What server-to-guest ratio does you supply? Will you guarantee this ratio?
- 7. Are any other events scheduled at the same time or on the same date?
- 8. Do you provide parking and what, if any, fees are required?
- 9. Do you have restrictions on photography, music, alcohol or decorating?
- 10. What are your deposit and cancellation policies?
- Don’t expect your guests to dance on carpet. If your hall is all carpet and does not have a tile, or wooden dance floor etc, consider renting a portable dance floor. You’ll find them in the yellow pages under “Party Supplies” or “Rental Equipment”. To a lesser extent, for outdoor weddings, guests don’t like dancing on rough concrete (just something to keep in mind)
- If your wedding will consist of many underage guests, adult supervision is a MUST. Make sure the parents or chaperones know what their responsibilities are and that they are available at all times. Your catering staff and entertainers will be busy performing their functions, so it is important for them to know who the chaperones are and where to find them. It is best that no alcohol be available to minors in any case, because your liability can be questioned, even after your guests have left your party.
- When deciding on times for your wedding, don’t let the reception go on too long. It is best to have everyone in good spirits at the end rather than having your guests dwindle down to a few in the wee hours of the morning.
Be sure to let all your vendors know what you expect of them, and what they can expect as to your guests and the reception. Disappointments will come when the communication is poor.
Entertainment will be a key component of your wedding. When considering your entertainment, be sure to consider your vision of the “perfect wedding”, but equally as important is to consider the desires and musical tastes of your invited guests. Though the bride or groom or parents may be classical buffs, having a string quartet playing all night long may find many guests having “pressing commitments” and leaving early. We suggest that you allow for a variety of music to be played to appeal to all age groups and interests.