Party Planners Share Their Top Tips On Throwing The Perfect Wedding Reception

Sep 5, 2017 | Wedding Tips

Your big day is coming up, congratulations! Whether you were the one who proposed or not, you’re absolutely going to have your hands full trying to prepare for the big day. The reception is often a big deal, as this is the first celebration of the union of the couple.

You undoubtedly want to do everything possible to make this as special as possible, so what do the pros have to say? Here are some top tips from the best party planners themselves.

Colin, Colin Cowie

When it comes to designing your wedding, think big and come up with a picture or concept that will allow you to shape every creative decision along the way. You can always engineer your ideas to work with your budget.

  • Leave wiggle room in your budget for unexpected and lesser-known costs. For example meals for the band and – if you’re having a really good time – overtime costs.
  • Timing is the most important aspect of the wedding. Never keep your guests waiting – make sure the flow of the day is natural and that there is never a dull moment! A guest should never be left wondering where they’re supposed to be or what they’re supposed to be doing. your wedding coordinator will help you pan the day to ensure it runs smoothly.  Rule of thumb:  the ceremony starts 15 minutes after the printed invitation time.  Allow 45 minutes for cocktails, as it will take guests a while to move from one space to the next.   Plan in how long it will take to serve a three-course dinner with a few toasts. Toasts can be tricky to predict how long they will take……
  • Don’t try to do everything yourself – there are some DIY-friendly aspects of your wedding such as favours, but as a bride to be, don’t stress yourself out by taking on more than you can handle before the big day. I.e. don’t do the centrepieces or attempt baking your own cake. Do things that can be done way in advance and allow you to be a guest at your own wedding!
  • Make time to do your rounds. Your wedding day is a busy one but in the end, ALL of your guests came to celebrate you. Make sure you greet and thank every guest individually, but please DO skip the receiving line. No need for bottlenecking at your reception when people can be dancing!
  • Write thank you notes IMMEDIATELY following your wedding. Yes, you and yours want to head directly to your honeymoon for some much needed relaxation, but take a moment to sit down together when you are back to get it out of the way so you can truly relax with no guilt.

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Jennifer, Bassett Events

The day has finally come, he proposed, and you said yes! You’ve purchased more magazines than you ever have in your life, gathered hundreds of pictures off Pinterest, and researched several blogs. You have so many ideas that you want to incorporate on your special day, but need to stick to your budget. Where do you begin?

We know how stressful planning your wedding can be, so we’ve come up with seven simple steps on how to throw the perfect wedding reception.

Set a budget and stick to it.

When setting the budget for your wedding, it is important to figure out your priorities and   where you want to cut. Budget for all items that are important to you and your groom, and allow wiggle room for last minute expenses.

Figure out what you want in a venue.

When deciding on a venue, you should ask yourself these questions: What city do you want to get married in? How many people are you inviting? What is your overall budget goal? What are your mandatory requirements in a venue? What are your food & beverage needs? Are you wanting a traditional or non-traditional venue?

Invite people you love.

The single most important element of your wedding is the people. On your wedding day, you will want to be surrounded by friends and family that you care most about, and it is the conversations you had and the laughs you shared that will make lasting memories.

Let your guests know what to expect

Guests are surprisingly good at rolling with the punches, as long as they know what they are getting into up front. If your wedding reception is held in a vineyard in the middle of July, guests should know to dress accordingly. Or if you plan to only serve cake and beverages, this should be made clear on the invitations, the wedding website, or by word of mouth so that guests are not taken by surprise.

Make your guests feel special.

There is something vulnerable about showing up to a wedding where you don’t know many people. You’ll only hope to be seated next to nice people, and that you’ll receive a decent meal. It is important to make your guests feel welcome, whether it be through a welcome gift bag at the hotel check-in, or a personalized name-tag.

Feed people on time.

If we had to pick the number one rule for all weddings, it would be this: feed your guests. There is nothing worse than hangry guests that are starving for something to eat. Be sure to budget for passed hors d’oeuvres and a quality dinner menu. It will make all the difference!

Have fun!

The most important thing to do on your wedding day is sit back, relax, and have fun! All eyes will be on the bride and groom on your special day, and if you are having fun, they will too! You have put so much time and effort into planning your special day, so make the very best of it!

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Amber, Parade Events

Planning a wedding reception really gets your creative juices flowing and is a great opportunity to use palettes, patterns and textures mixed with evocative experiences for your guests to create a memorable ‘Big Day’:

  • You’ll want the celebration elements to complement your ceremony so make sure your themes and decor continue from start to finish. This could be a splash of colour, a specific floral design or a contemporary pattern mirrored in your stationery, décor, signage or table design.
  • Never underestimate the value of good food at a wedding. Food, in general, gets people talking. Say goodbye to sausages on sticks and hello to innovative menu design (…always over-order on the canapes too!)
  • Mix in some surprises which are personal to you. This will help personalise the day and add sentiment. Signature cocktails, table name theming, favourite foods etc. are good ways of injecting yourselves, and your memories together, into the proceedings.
  • And finally, try to create a ‘take away memory’ for each and every one of your guests. Photo booths, caricaturists, entertainers, amazing musicians or keepsake favours can all add up to memorable experiences and help to ensure your big day is remembered again and again.

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Issy, Lettice


Whether it’s a new Moleskin diary or a nifty planning app for your iPad, it’s time to get organised! Setting dates will focus your mind, keep you on track and, above all, stop you from becoming overwhelmed. Not everything has to be sorted at once! Focus on getting the big things in place first: date, venue, guest list and catering.


If you can be flexible with your date, then you will have far more options available to you, however, do some research as to what else may be going on around that time. Is there a big music festival in the area (this will affect hotels available and traffic on the day)? Is it school holiday season when your friends with children may be away?


This is key. Work out what your budget is and STICK TO IT!

Budget can be the source of many a wedding woe, but learn to be money savvy and your pounds will stretch much further. Work out where does the budget really need to go? What is non-negotiable and what can you be flexible with? Be tough with yourself and ask if you really need designer candles on your table or over the top budget-blowing wedding favours?

Be prepared to negotiate

In the immortal words of Mick Jagger, ‘you can’t always get what you want’, so get ready to be flexible. You are marrying the love of your life so don’t let something like the wrong shade of lace ruin your big day.

When it comes to finding a venue, you will find the most popular are booked up extraordinarily early, often years in advance. But don’t be downhearted if you miss out on your first choice; with a little adventure and imagination even the most unexpected of spaces can be transformed into a magical reception venue.

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Lucy, Ninth Events

Planning your wedding should be a positive experience and doesn’t have to be stressful! So put your worries aside, here’s our top three tips…

Build your dream team.

If you don’t have a wedding planner on the day, use your closest aides to ensure everything runs like clockwork. Bridesmaids and groomsmen can all be given roles and responsibilities, so you can both sit back and relax and enjoy every moment. Plan a detailed schedule that they can refer to and get them involved in the organising process, this way they can deal with anything that will arise on the day, without having to ask you a single question!

Dare to be different.

Your wedding reception isn’t about the people you’re inviting, it should be about you and your personalities, that’s what will make your day unique to the many weddings taking place now. Even if you are an ‘opposites attract’ couple, you can still blend your favourite things together and suddenly you’ll find your day will be memorable for character and fun! If the bride likes vintage, but the groom likes rap music, name the tables after his favourite music artists and use bunting flags as place names. Themes are great, but don’t feel restricted to just one. Be creative and think a little more outside the box.

Are you ready to be entertained?!

Think about it, what do you remember the most from weddings and events you have been to? The table centres, stationery, food…or is the music and how much fun and entertainment there was at the event? We’d tend to say it’s the latter, so invest in your entertainment! Good music throughout the day sets the tone and creates the atmosphere, so have fun with this and as well as a cracking band in the evening, don’t just think string quartet…think sax, brass, steel drums, gospel choir. In addition to the music, guests love having more to do and these days it’s not just about photobooths. Add a flair cocktail bartender to the bar, glitterize your guests with festival body glitter artists, or let them have a fun flutter on a roulette table.

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Simon, Bluebird Creative

A wedding day will likely be the biggest day in any couple’s lives and they will want to make sure that it runs smoothly, creates lasting memories and leaves their guest with an unforgettable experience.

In our experience we have found that the following tips can help towards creating the perfect wedding reception and the best possible experience.


The first thing you will need to book is your venue. Bear in mind that they can get booked up to two years in advance, so this definitely needs to be your first port of call. However, you will need to have a few of your ducks in a row before visiting the venue for the first time. Make sure you have discussed a date or at least potential month you would like to get married, have an idea of guest numbers and have your budget sorted. This will make it a lot easier to assess whether a venue is the right one for you.

Book Big Early

Book the big suppliers early. Caterers, florists and photographers can all get booked up over a year in advance, so if you have a particular supplier in mind, make sure you secure the date with them as soon as you have it secured with your venue. These suppliers play an integral role in your reception.

Shot List

Minus your own memories, photographs are the only hard copy you will have from your wedding day. Our advice would be to make sure you research and choose someone that has a good reputation and portfolio. It would be heart-breaking to receive your wedding pictures and be unhappy with the final product. If there are particular shots that you really want, make sure you send a list to the photographer prior to your wedding, so that nothing is forgotten or missed out!

On The Day Coordination

Consider using a wedding planner for on the day coordination. If you have worked tirelessly planning your wedding and want to relax on your wedding day, knowing that everything will be taken care of to your high standards then a wedding planner is a good option. They will take care of all the small details on the day, ensuring everything arrives as it should, and runs smoothly. If anything unexpected arises, your planner can deal with it without you being aware or having to worry. Allowing you to make the most of your special day!

Take Five

Your wedding day is a massive event in your life and the start of a new chapter. However, this sometimes gets lost in all the planning. This piece of advice was given to us on our wedding day and we now always recommend it to all brides and grooms, as it gave us a moment to reflect on what the day is all about…. Take Five. Before heading in the room to sit down for your meal, allow yourself five minutes as just a couple. Step away from the chaos (albeit the most amazing atmosphere) and share a moment with your new husband/wife.

Work Your Tables

Having a receiving line at a wedding is very traditional but rarely done nowadays. It can take over an hour and leaves your guests waiting longer before their meal. Our tip is to work your tables during the meal. The top table will always be the first to get served and it will take a little while in between courses. Once you have finished a course, visit each table and thank your guests for coming. By doing this you will have time in the evening to greet your evening guest and then enjoy the party that you have meticulously planned.

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Well, how are you having your wedding reception? All of these tips are amazingly helpful, hopefully you can make your reception unique to you, and it’ll go as smoothly as possible. If you’re interested in a country home getaway for your wedding, whether it’s the venue or the honeymoon, make sure to check out what we at Broadoaks Country House have to offer!

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