Sep 08

Organize Wedding Reception and Preparation – Guests Restaurant Hotel

Choosing The Type of Your Wedding Reception

Choosing the right time, place and atmosphere for your wedding reception will help to ensure that your wedding celebrations are conducted to your entire satisfaction! Put a lot of thought into the details of your reception; it will not be wasted time, and will help to guarantee that on the day everything runs smoothly and everyone has a good time.

What kind of a reception do you want? Conventional receptions come in many forms: formal, sit-down meals, hot or cold buffets, parties at home or in a hall or marquee, evening parties for friends and relations. Your style of reception should echo the style of your wedding; for instance, if you are having a very formal, very large church wedding with all the trimmings then a formal sit-down reception in an hotel or restaurant would be appropriate. On the other hand, if you are having a very small, quiet registry office wedding you may want to have a small buffet reception at your mother’s home.

Choosing a Venue for The Wedding Reception

Decide on the kind of reception you want, and then decide on an appropriate venue. Ideally the reception should be close to the church or registry office, or at least within an easy car journey; in any case it is often best to issue guests with a map to prevent anyone from getting lost! As soon as you know the venue of your wedding service you can look for a suitable place nearby to hold the reception. Many people hire the functions room of an hotel or restaurant; these can often be hired with or without the establishment’s own catering staff, but it is wise to check this at the time. Hotels and restaurants have the advantages that their rooms are generally attractive and spacious, they are (or should be) well decorated, they generally have ample parking space, and will be used to hosting this kind of venture and so will be able to help it go smoothly.

If there is no suitable hotel or restaurant nearby, or if you want to save money or have a less formal reception, you could hire or borrow a hall such as the church’s own hall, a room in a sports club or civic building, etc. Halls can vary from the very shabby and stark to the very pleasant, so always ask to see the hall if this is what you choose to do. Also you will have to bear in mind the catering arrangements; does the hall have a kitchen nearby? What are the arrangements for making tea and coffee? Where will drinks be served? Are there any restrictions on serving alcohol? Are there any restrictions on dancing, if you want to include this as part of the celebrations?

You may have a burning desire to have your wedding reception at home. This can be a lovely way for a bride’s mother to say goodbye to her daughter from the home where she was brought up – but it can also be an easy way of having a nervous breakdown, especially when all the necessary arrangements for the reception are combined with all the last-minute details before a wedding. It is possible, of course, to use your home but have outside caterers to do all the preparation, clearing up and serving, which can be a good compromise.

If you are having difficulty in selecting a venue, ask yourself some basic questions about each possibility. Are they big enough? Are they attractive? Are the toilet, car park, bar, kitchen, seating facilities good enough? Are the people helpful? Are there any restrictions on time? What are the insurance arrangements? These should help you to narrow down your choices to the ideal venue for your reception.

Choose the Type of Reception depending on the Wedding Guests

Once you have decided on the venue, there are numerous other details to be checked regarding your reception. Remember that you and your guests will almost certainly be at the reception far longer than you are at the service, so it is important to get everything as right as possible!

The seating is an important consideration. Are you going to have a sit-down meal? if so, is there somewhere where the guests can relax more informally and mingle more freely, both before and after the meal? Are the chairs comfortable? Are there high-chairs and cushions available for small children?

If you are having a buffet you will need to decide whether you still want tables and chairs set up for ail the guests, or whether the guests will be expected to stand. You will only be able to expect them to stand all the time if it is a very short, informal buffet, and even then you will need to provide seats for elderly or infirm guests.

If you are having lots of children among your guests make sure that the facilities are adequate for them. Ideally there should be somewhere where they can play if they get bored, which is especially likely with a long, formal reception. Also you will need to bear them in mind when you are planning the eating arrangements – is it the kind of food that children are likely to enjoy, and if not, do you want to provide a separate menu for the children? Are there suitable implements around for them to eat with? Are there lots of soft drinks?

Choosing a Venue Checklist for Your Wedding Reception

• Identify several suitable ones /personal experience, recommendation, reputation, advertisement/
• Establish their availability on the date you require
• Request brochures, sample menus and prices
• Dine at one or two of them, if possible, looking at these points: décor, atmosphere (formal or relaxed), standard of food and service, efficiency and friendliness of staff, value for money
• Determine what size room(s) you require
• Establish what bar facilities are available
• Ascertain the availability and quantity of car parking space
• Telephone the banqueting or restaurant manager to confirm availability depending on style of reception and number of guests /date, time, room(s), etc./
• Arrange a meeting with the banqueting or restaurant manager to discuss your requirements.

Alternative Wedding Reception type

If you are having a small wedding, or alternatively if you are having a very large one and money is no object, you may want to do something a little bit different for your reception. You might want to have your wedding reception on a boat. This is a relatively common form of reception for those who live near water, and a look in your telephone directory will give you the contacts with people and firms who have suitable boats for hire. Once again caterers may be provided or you may need to provide your own; entertainment may be included in the hire. A boat is a rather exotic setting that is both out of a building and yet also under cover, which is a good idea in case the weather is unreliable.

Alternatively, you may want to have a less formal type of reception in your home or a hall. In America more unusual forms of reception are quite customary – for instance, a cocktail party, a cheese and wine party, or a teatime reception with snacks and cakes rather than a full meal. Or you could choose a party that combines a relatively traditional reception with something a bit different – for instance, if you are using a large hall you could clear some of it for country dancing, ballroom dancing or a disco. If there are to be lots of children you could invite a clown or magician to entertain them. Or you (or the best man!) could lay on a slide show of photographs and films of you both growing up and significant stages in your courtship!

Ordering a Marquee for Your Wedding Reception

Marquees are popular for wedding receptions for many reasons; they can be erected in the grounds of a house, hotel or other building without intruding on what is going on inside, and they form a pretty and elegant background for the celebrations. There are two types of marquee – traditional canvas tent with one or two supporting poles and guy ropes, and the aluminum frame tent, freestanding with no poles or ropes. The frame tent is more suitable for weddings, but the canvas one is slightly cheaper.
Marquees can be hired on their own from specialist firms, or they can be ordered as part of an entire wedding package from some caterers. If you are thinking of having a marquee, ask if you can see photographs of how it will look erected, whether it will damage the ground that it stands on, what the decoration will be like inside, whether it will stand up to heavy rain, etc; also, think of the practicalities of where it will stand – is there a car park nearby? How far do the guests have to walk to a cloakroom? Will they have to walk through mud if it rains?

Marquee for the Wedding Reception Checklist

Identify hire Companies See Yellow Pages or the Internet
Request brochures and prices
Arrange a site meeting to discuss your requirements • size and style of marquee
• style and color of lining
• flooring (coconut matting on the grass or boarded with either matting or carpet on top. interlocking parquet is the best surface for dancing.)
• tables and chairs
• staging (for wedding cake table, speeches, band or disco)
• heating and ventilation
• lighting
• exterior floodlighting
• public address system for speeches
• power supply
• generator (if additional electricity is needed)
• access to house
• covered walkways
• details of setting up and dismantling
• estimated total cost and payment details
• request a detailed estimate in writing
Confirm acceptance in writing and pay the required deposit
Decide on any special theme
Decide on the Provision of flowers
Decide what decorations you will have

Main Questions to Answer for Wedding Reception

How many people will be invited to the reception? Who will provide the table linen?
Will it be formal or informal? When will the cake be delivered to the reception venue?
Do we want a sit-down meal, buffet or something else? Is there a separate table for the cake, etc.?
What venue will be best? Are there adequate bar facilities?
Who will be doing the catering? Are there adequate toilet/cloakroom facilities?
Is there any hire charge for the venue?
If so, when does it have to be paid? What are the insurance arrangements?
Are there facilities for tea and coffee? Are there adequate car parking facilities?
Are the chairs comfortable? Are there any restrictions on alcohol consumption?
Is the decor attractive? Are there any restrictions on smoking?
Will we need flowers to decorate the room? If so, are they provided? Is there room for the wedding cars to draw up outside?
Is there somewhere for the children to play? Do we need a Master of Ceremonies?
If so, who will do the job?
Will we be able to go outside if the weather is good? Are there attractive places for photographs to be taken?
Who will provide crockery, cutlery and glasses? Who will deal with our enquiries?
Will he or she be on hand on the day?

Catering for the Wedding Reception

The catering is a vital consideration in any reception. If you hire an hotel or restaurant you can often choose to have their caterers preparing and serving the food, and of course doing the clearing up afterwards. Alternatively, you may want to use outside caterers if you are having the reception in a hall, marquee, hotel, restaurant or home. When choosing your caterer go by recommendation if you can; all firms will tell you that they provide a good service, but there is nothing to beat the recommendation of someone who has been extremely pleased with their services.

You may decide that you want to do the catering yourself, or with the help of friends or relatives. Never underestimate the amount of time and preparation all this will take; especially if it is a formal reception the work will be phenomenal. Only do this if you genuinely enjoy catering for large numbers and if you have adequate facilities and adequate back-up in terms of washer-uppers, servers, etc. It is perfectly possible for a team of well-organised friends and relations to serve up a delicious meal without too much trouble on the day as long as the plans have been carefully laid. Some people will choose to serve a full meal such as casseroles, pies, salad, etc, plus desserts; others may prefer to prepare a buffet. Choose food that can be prepared in advance and frozen; if you have access to a caterer’s freezer or fridge this will be very useful.

Catering details for the Wedding Reception

Don’t forget all the accessories, such as cutlery, crockery, glassware, tablecloths and napkins, bottle openers, cake stand and knife, etc. Once again, if you use professional caterers they should provide all these extras (although it is worth checking in detail), but if you or friends are doing the catering you will need to provide them yourselves. Look in your telephone directory for firms that specialise in hiring out equipment, and check on deliveries, collections, insurance and breakages. You may choose to order some of the specially printed wedding tableclothes and paper napkins – and even plates. These are generally of very low quality and often in extremely bad taste. You may well do better to buy from one of the very attractive printed ranges of disposable accessories available from large stationery stores; these are prettier, much’ better quality, and their higher price can be offset by the money you save by not having the wedding goods personalised.

Catering timing for the Wedding Reception

Timing is an important question; even when you have worked out what time you want the reception to begin and end you still have to work out what time you want the meal served, and whether you can have access to the reception venue earlier in the day to check that everything is OK, to put the cake in position, etc. Each venue will vary on these arrangements, so make sure that both parties are sure what the arrangements are; ask for them to be put in writing so that there is no dispute.

Types of Catering for the Wedding Reception

Whether you choose Professional caterers or prepare some of the food yourself, it is important to have the freedom to enjoy the reception and circulate among the guests. You need to consider a Professional caterer if your guest list exceeds 20. You might not enjoy yourself if you’re running around worrying about dirty dishes and whether or not everyone has had enough to eat.
Factors that determine your style of catering are: budget, number of guests (consider professional caterers if over 20), availability of sufficient cutlery, china, glassware, etc., time of wedding (tends to dictate how hungry your guests will be and the most appropriate type of food to provide), type of food to be served, help available for advance food preparation and on the day.
Do not be over-ambitious. Avoid food that is very spicy, fat-rieh or fiddly to eat. Choose bite-size, non-drip and non-crumbly food for a finger buffet. It is advisable to fest out any new recipes beforehand

The main options of catering are the following:
• Self-catering – prepare all the food and serve it yourself. It is advisable for your helpers at the reception not to be guests
• Partial Self-catering – prepare all the food, but hire serving staff on the day. Alternatively, have the food Professionally prepared and serve it yourself
• Professional Catering – all the food and serving staff are provided

Self-Catering checklist for Your Wedding Reception

Number of Guests • reception
• evening reception
• decide when final numbers are required
Timing • food preparation
• arrival of helpers
• arrival of guests
• meal
• speeches
• cutting the cake
• evening reception
• buffet
• estimated finish
• clearing away
Food • decide whether you will prepare all the food yourself or have any professionally prepared
• provision of aperitifs and canapés on arrival
• finger buffet
• fork buffet
• sit-down meal
• barbecue
• decide what can be made in advance and will freeze well
• special dietary requirements, e.g. kosher, vegetarian or allergies (produce signs for food that contain possible allergens)
• decide on the menu and prepare a shopping list
• arrange delivery of the wedding cake to reception venue, if appropriate
Drinks • drinks to be served on arrival
• purchase wine, soft drinks, fruit juice and mineral water many off-licenses will supply wine on a sale-or-return basis
• champagne or sparkling wine served with the cake
• liqueurs, brandy, port served with the coffee
• ice
• decide who will serve the drinks
Helpers • shopping
• cooking for the freezer
• preparation of food, setting-up the bar, etc.
• transportation of food and equipment to and from the venue
• serving the food and drinks (hire waiters/waitresses, if necessary)
• slicing the cake
• handing out bridal favors
• clearing away
• washing-up
Equipment • list requirements and decide what you will need to borrow or hire
see your local yellow pages or the internet for hire companies
• china
• cutlery
• glassware (many off-licenses will hire out glasses if you purchase the wine from them)
• tables and chairs
• tablecloths and napkins
• candelabra and candles
• cake stand and knife
• turn for boiling water
• coffee/tea pots
• heated trays
• condiment sets
• glass cloths
• corkscrews and bottle openers
• food thermometer and temperature probe for hot food
• rubbish sacks
• decide whether you will have sufficient fridge and freezer space. if not, approach people who may be able to offer some space

Self-Catering Time Preparation for Your Wedding Reception

• 1 month – Purchase ingredients; Prepare food for the freezer; Buy the wine, Champagne, liqueurs, etc. and arrange to hire glassware
• 1 week – continue preparation of food and prepare or purchase ice cubes
• 1 day – De-frost food; Do last minute shopping for perishables; Assemble all equipment and glassware; Chili wine and drinks; Arrange furniture and set up wedding gift table; Lay table(s), apart from food
• On the day – Set out the food; Open the wine; Remind helpers to observe good catering practice, e.g. testing the temperature of hot food and removing unconsumed food to prevent possible contamination and food poisoning

Choosing Professional Catering for Your Wedding Reception

The wedding meal is an important part of your wedding day and something you and your guests will remember. The key is to find a caterer who will create the perfect menu, at the right price and ensure the reception goes without a hitch. These are the main steps you need to take to choose a good caterer:
• Identify suitable ones (aim for at least three) – personal experience, recommendation, good reputation, advertisement, Yellow Pages, website
• Check their availability on the date you require
• Request brochures, sample menus and prices
• Ensure you are satisfied that they can meet all your requirements and cope with the number of guests
• Consider whether to ask for references and details of their qualifications
• Confirm their availability
• Arrange a meeting to discuss your requirements: venue, style of reception, cost per head, ascertain whether they can offer a party-planning service and the cost

Professional Catering Checklist for Your Wedding Reception

Timings • arrival at venue
• arrival of guests
• meal
• speeches
• cutting the cake
• evening reception
• buffet
• bar closes
• finish
• clearing away facilities

Equipment • china
• cutlery
• glassware
• cake-stand and knife
• tablecloths, napkins, candelabra, candles (specify color, if appropriate)
• heated trays
• tables and chairs, including a table to display wedding gifts flowers
• discuss whether they will provide the flowers or you will supply your own
• specify type and color of flowers, if appropriate
• discuss where the flowers will be placed

Food • aperitifs and canapés to be served on arrival
• finger buffet
• fork buffet
• sit-down meal
• barbecue
• evening reception
• discuss menu and select from set menus or make your own suggestions
• ascertain what quantity of food is included in the price
• special dietary requirements, e.g. kosher, vegetarian or allergies
• special menu/small portions for children
• discuss delivery of the wedding cake, if appropriate
• enquire what happens to any food left over (re-plated or taken away)

Drinks • served on arrival (punch, kir, champagne, buck’s fizz, sherry, fruit juice)
• wine(s) to be served with meal
• soft drinks, fruit juice and mineral water
• champagne or sparkling wine served with the cake
• liqueurs, brandy, port served with the coffee
• decide who will supply the wine and other drinks
• enquire whether there is a corkage charge if you provide your own

You could consider buying it or on return basis from an off-license • bar equipment and ice
• specify the quantities to be served
• enquire whether they have an alcohol license if you plan to have a pay bar
• agree how many staff will be provided for the number of guests
• serving food
• bar
• cloakroom staff-guest ratios: 1:15 for a buffet/1:10 for a served sit- down meal
• enquire whether they will wear uniforms
• provide any special instructions, e.g. cutting and distribution of the cake
• request bridal favors, e.g. sugared almonds, be handed out to guests
• enquire whether they can provide a master of ceremonies/ toastmaster, if required

• establish whether service charge is included or if gratuities are optional
• check whether a charge is made for cleaning the room or hall after the function
• enquire whether vat is included in the prices
• determine whether there is a charge if the reception overruns
• ascertain whether there is a surcharge for small numbers
• determine their terms for breakages

Confirmation • request a detailed breakdown of charges
food, drinks, corkage, staff, service charge, delivery, travelling expenses, equipment hire, party planning, etc.
• confirm acceptance of estimate in writing and pay the required deposit

Professional Catering Time Preparation for Your Wedding Reception

• 1 week – Telephone or arrange a meeting to check final arrangements; Confirm final numbers; Provide seating plan and place name cards; Arrange access to venue; Exchange mobile telephone numbers for use on the day

Entertainment at Wedding Reception

Entertainment is a huge part of your wedding reception to ensure everyone enjoys the celebrations in a great party atmosphere. Whether you want a DJ, a live band or pre-recorded music, there’s great scope for letting your imagination run wild.
Most of the wedding magazines, and most local papers, offer the services of all kinds of musicians such as harpists, steel bands, string quartets, singers, barbershop singers, jazz musicians, pianists, etc. And, of course, there are always disc jockeys available with discos, light shows, etc; your guests may be able to stay on for a party after you have left on honeymoon.
Decide whether you wish to have any entertainment at the reception – disco, live, band, musicians, pre-recorded music, entertainers (particularly for any children, e.g. a down, magician, puppet theatre or a video)
• Obtain permission of the venue manager
• Check that the venue holds an entertainments license
• Check on Iighting, power supply and any changing facilities
• Identify suitable discos/bands/entertainers/musicians – from personal experience, recommendation, advertisement, website
• Check on their availability on the date you require
• Obtain brochures and prices
• Arrange a meeting to discuss your requirements, such as details and time of setting-up and dismantling, start and finish times, number and times of breaks, music for the first dance, special requests, special instructions (type of music, volume, tempo, etc.), cancellation fee, estimated total cost and whether VAT is payable
• Request an estimate in writing
• Confirm acceptance in writing and enclose the required deposit
• Telephone to check final arrangements one week before reception
• Exchange mobile telephone numbers for use on the day

Things to Consider for Organizing a Wedding Reception

Once all the formalities of the ceremony are over, the reception is your time to relax with your guests. Ideally, it should reflect the overall style or theme of your wedding. The biggest decisions you will make when planning your wedding reception will involve the following:
• Decide on the style of reception /formal or informal/
• Decide how many people will attend /bridal party, attendants, official guests/
• Decide on an appropriate venue /hotel, restaurant, banqueting room, hall or function room, at home, other like riverboat, canal barge, etc./
• If you choose a public venue enquire whether the venue offer a wedding package and, if so, what it includes
• Decide whether you will have additional guests in the evening
• Theme
• Proximity of venue where the ceremony is being held
• Time of day
• Type of food /sit down meal, fork or finger buffet, barbecue/
• Entertainment
• Set a maximum cost per head for your Budget and ascertain when the final numbers are required /when organizing the Reception in Hotel Restaurant or other public venue/
• License to consume alcohol /when organizing the Reception in Hotel Restaurant or other public venue/

Wedding Reception Facilities

• Decide on seating arrangements, room layout, position of the cake table and any tables required for displaying or serving food
• Determine whether an evening reception will necessitate a different room layout
• Consider whether you have sufficient tables and chairs for reception at home
• Consider hiring a marquee, if required
• Consider the arrangements for decorating the room (balloons, etc.)
• Consider the arrangements if you wish to display your wedding gifts and ask whether they can be kept in a safe place before and after the reception for a reception at public venue
• Advise your delivery and collection arrangements for the gifts
• Ask whether a public address system is available for the speeches for a reception at public venue
• Enquire whether a changing room is available when taking the reception at public venue /hotel restaurants, other/
• Consider cloakroom and toilet facilities when taking the reception at home or check on these facilities when taking the reception at public venue
• Consider the availability of adequate car parking space
• Ascertain whether a room could be available for children to have a rest or as a quiet room
• Check access for any elderly or disabled guests
• Check with your insurance Company regarding public liability cover when having the reception at home or check insurance cover of the public venue
• Establish whether any of your guests require overnight accommodation and enquire whether there is a special rate for accommodation when at public venues /hotel restaurants, other/
• Identify any other risks such as poor lighting, uneven surfaces, etc.

Flowers and Decorations for Wedding Reception

• Determine whether the caterers will provide the flowers or you will supply your own
• Specify type and color of flowers, if necessary
• Decide where you would like them placed
• Decide what decorations you will have
• Consider whether you will need any help

Wedding Reception Timing list

Reception at Home Reception at public venue /hotel, restaurant, banqueting room, etc./
caterers arrive arrival of guests
arrival of guests meal
meal speeches
speeches cutting the cake
cutting the cake evening reception
evening reception buffet
entertainment entertainment
finish bar closes

Organizing a Wedding Reception at Home

A reception at home will have a more intimate atmosphere, but numbers may be restricted and there are still quite a few things to think about. If the space is tight indoors and you have a garden big enough, why not have your wedding reception in a marquee? They don’t need to look like boy scout tents – there are specialist companies that will decorate them in an Eastern, Moroccan, Spanish or even Bollywood style. Options include beautiful Arabian carpets, luxury cushions for lounging or dining, lanterns, lamps and shiny brass tables – saves you travelling abroad and creates a special atmosphere. Marquee companies often provide generators – they may be noisy, but you’ll be glad of them.

Food and Drink for Wedding Reception at Home

• Decide whether you will prepare the food yourself or hire Professional caterers.
• Consider whether the caterers will provide all the necessary staff or you will arrange your own helpers
• Choose among the food options you have /finger buffet, fork buffet, sit-down meal, barbecue, etc./
• Consider the Provision of bar facilities.

Entertainment at Home Wedding Reception

• Decide whether you wish to have any entertainment
• Consider lighting, power supply and changing facilities
• Decide whether you wish to have any background music
• See the section on music, but warn your neighbours if you want to make a lot of noise.

Additional Things to Consider when having a Reception at Home

• Make sure the children are fed and entertained and you have decided where you are happy for them to venture
• Pets – Do they need to be looked after for the day?
• Cleaning – Arrange for a cleaner to come in before and after the event.
• Speeches – Where is a good place to make them?
• Contingency plans – What will you do if it rains and you were planning to use the garden, or if it’s too hot and people need shade?

To do list ‘1 Week Before the Reception at Home’

• Telephone caterers and suppliers to check final arrangements
• Confirm the final numbers
• Prepare seating plan and write place name cards
• Arrange the seating, and tables for displaying and serving the food
• Set up the wedding gift table
• Decorate the house
• Arrange flowers

Gay-Wedding Reception at Home Experience

‘We had both been fighting for lesbian and gay equality, so for us it was partly about exercising our civil rights, but also about celebrating our relationship with family and friends, very publicly. We chose to have a civil partnership within the first three weeks of the law changing, to be a part of history.

We had just bought a new house and wanted it to be the venue for the party, so we hired a marquee for the garden. Our friends set up the marquee and a dance floor, and ran the disco, while another friend did the catering.

We were really excited about having everyone back to our new house, as some hadn’t seen it before and it meant a lot to us to celebrate at home. Although there was snow on the ground, we managed to have a barbecue and people danced in the marquee. But preparing the house was a lot of work and we had to cut down half the garden, as the marquee was too big, so I would only recommend having a reception at home if you have a high threshold for stress.

We organized it all in four months – I think that is the bare minimum. If I were doing it again, I would definitely have planned a holiday afterwards. However, the whole day was really special, wonderful, and one of the most important days in my life.’

Organizing a Wedding Reception at Hotel Restaurant

If you choose to organize your Wedding Reception at Hotel, Restaurant or Banqueting Room, these types of venues offer a one-stop solution to all your requirements – catering, service and facilities – thus reducing the amount of organization that is required. The two biggest decisions you will make when planning your wedding reception will involve the venue and the food and drink.

Food for Reception at Hotel Restaurant or other public venue

• Choose among the food options you have /finger buffet, fork buffet, sit-down meal, barbecue, etc./
• Consider the Provision of bar facilities
• Decide on the Provision of canapés or nibbles on arrival
• Choose your wedding menu (for reception and evening reception)
• Select from the set menus or make your own suggestions /when organizing the Reception in Hotel Restaurant or other public venue/
• Advise any special dietary requirements, e.g. kosher, vegetarian or allergies
• Request special menu or small portions for children
• Confirm when the wedding cake will arrive and any special serving instructions

Drinks for Reception at Hotel Restaurant

• Specify drinks to be served on arrival (Champagne, buck’s fizz, sherry, fruit juice, etc.)
• Select wine – ask if corkage is charged if you are permitted to provide your own wine
• Soft drinks, fruit juice and mineral water
• Champagne or sparkling wine served with the cake
• Liqueurs, brandy, port served with the coffee
• Specify when you would like drinks to be served and in what quantity
• Bar facilities – specify Provision of free drinks or pay bar

Entertainment for Reception at Hotel Restaurant

• Establish whether entertainment is permitted
• If so, discuss your plans for a disco, live band, entertainment – see ‘Entertainment’
• Check on lighting, power supply and changing facilities
• Discuss background music or musicians playing during the meal, if required
• Consider providing entertainment for any children, e.g. a clown, magician, puppet theatre or a video, and the availability of a room

Additional Things to Consider when having a Reception at Hotel Restaurant

Hire Charges • Discuss any hire charges for the room(s)
• Check whether there are any other weddings on the same day
• Enquire whether there is a Charge for exclusive use of the venue, if required Times
• Ascertain whether there will be any time restrictions
Staff • Establish the proposed number of serving and bar staff to be provided
• Ascertain whether they can arrange a Master of Ceremonies or Toastmaster, if required (the Duty Manager may be able to perform this task)
• Discuss handing out of bridal favors, e.g. sugared almonds
• Check whether they provide cloakroom staff
Equipment • State preferred color of the tablecloths and napkins
• Request candelabra and specify the color of the candles, if required
• Enquire whether they can provide a cake-stand and knife
Confirmation • Discuss the estimated cost and ascertain whether VAT and service Charge have been included in the prices
• Request a detailed estimate in writing
• Confirm acceptance in writing and enclose the required deposit
Overnight Accommodation • Reserve rooms, as appropriate /for yourselves, guests/

To do list ‘1 Week Before the Reception at Hotel Restaurant’

• Telephone or call round to check the final arrangements
• Confirm final numbers
• Provide seating plan and place name cards

Arriving and Welcoming of Guests at the Wedding Reception

The way you deal with the arrival of guests at the reception will depend on the size and formality of the reception and the arrangement of the place where you are holding the reception. If there are lots of guests who came along to the service but who have not been invited to the reception, it is a nice idea to have a small receiving line for them outside the church, to give them a chance to say their good wishes personally. This will also get you into practice for the more extensive one at the reception. The idea of any receiving line is simply to make sure that every guest has the chance to congratulate the couple, wish them well, meet the parents, and thank the hosts of the wedding – whoever they happen to be. Consequently a formal receiving line at a formal reception will include all the people who have been important in the planning of the wedding.

Receiving Wishes Line before the Wedding Reception

Bride’s mother, bride’s father, groom’s mother, groom’s father, bride, groom, chief bridesmaid, other attendants. It is generally better not to have small attendants in the receiving line; they will be too small to join in its main purpose, and will quickly become bored. Generally the best man will not be in the receiving line as he is supposed to be the last to leave the church, so that he can be sure that all the guests have been safely dispatched to the reception. However, if the receiving line is delayed until all the guests are at the reception venue, the best man could be included next to the groom and before the chief bridesmaid.
At a less formal reception the receiving line could simply consist of the bride’s mother, the groom’s mother and then the bride and groom, if the wedding is informal, guests can be greeted by the bride and groom on their own. This last arrangement is also often a good idea when relationships are complicated by divorce, step-parents, etc.

At large informal receptions the services of an announcer are sometimes employed, although this is probably rather an affectation unless you are really moving in the highest strata of society! Generally it is sufficient for each guest to make it obvious to the first in the receiving line who he or she is; don’t expect everyone to remember you, as all the guests will be out of their normal context and it is easy for minds to go blank when faced with lots of semi-familiar people. The official way to continue the receiving line is for each person involved to present the guest to the next in line with an appropriate remark suited to the depth of their acquaintance. In fact, the receiving lines these days are likely to be far more spontaneous, and people are unlikely to need hints on what to say to the right people.

If you are having a receiving line you should stay in it until every guest, as far as you can tell, has arrived safely. Once the company seems to be complete, then the meal can be started. If you are having a sit-down meal, the bridal party will make their way to the top table and this will be the signal for the waiters to start serving; everyone else should be in place by this stage. If you are having a buffet, the Master of Ceremonies or the bride’s father can loudly invite everyone to begin eating.

Wedding Reception Seating Arrangements

If you are having a buffet you need to bother very little about seating people in particular places, although you should always make sure that the bridal party has a formal table where they can be served. If you are having a sit-down meal, however, it is important to sort out the seating sensibly so that everyone is in the best position through the meal.

If you are having a sit-down meal it is best to plan where everyone is going to sit, even if there are lots of smaller tables dotted around the room. If you do the planning you can make sure that everyone will be sitting near guests they will find congenial, that children are sitting with, or under the watchful eye of, their parents, and that there is a good balance of men and women on each table and through the room in general. You may prefer to have all the children sitting together near one of the doors so that they can disappear to the garden or another room to play when they get bored without too much disruption. Any mothers of small children should also be near the doors so that they can get up without embarrassment to deal with feeding, changing, crying, etc.
The guests like to be able to see the bridal party in all their splendour, and it is also nice for the newly-married couple to be able to look out over the reception and see all their friends and relations enjoying themselves, so there should be a top table where the main participants sit. This is generally arranged so that there are people on one side only, facing the rest of the room, and the table may be set on a raised dais or stage if the room has one.

Wedding Reception Seating Arrangements for Close Family

1. Arrangement for an ordinary wedding 2. Arrangement when the bride’s parents are divorced and both parents have remarried
Best man • Bride’s stepmother •
Groom’s mother • Best man •
Bride’s father • Groom’s mother •
BRIDE • Bride’s father •
Bride’s mother • GROOM •
Groom’s father • Bride’s mother •
Chief bridesmaid • Groom’s father •
Chief bridesmaid •
Bride’s stepfather •
3. Arrangement when the groom’s parents are divorced and both parents have remarried 4. Arrangement when both sets of parents are divorced and ail have remarried
Chief bridesmaid • Groom’s stepfather •
Groom’s stepfather • Bride’s stepmother •
Groom’s mother • Best man •
Bride’s father • Groom’s mother •
BRIDE • Bride’s father •
Bride’s mother • GROOM •
Groom’s father • Bride’s mother •
Groom’s stepmother • Groom’s father •
Best man • Chief bridesmaid •
Bride’s stepfather •
Groom’s stepmother •

Variations of Wedding Reception Seating Arrangements

Of course, there are numerous variations within these basic schemes; for instance, if one parent is widowed, and the other set of parents have divorced and only one has remarried. The basic idea is that husbands and wives (or ex-husbands and ex-wives) should not sit together. If parents have divorced and remarried, their new partners should be at the same end of the table. Bearing these considerations in mind, sort out a sensible arrangement; don’t let convention dictate an uncomfortable arrangement, for instance if it would decree sitting two people together who can’t stand each other!

If one of the chief participants is missing, for instance, if one of the parents is widowed or if another cannot be present because of illness, fill the gap on the top table with a relative or a close family friend who will be able to take on the appropriate duties of conversation and hospitality.

The top table may be part of a horseshoe shape or E shape, with longer tables butting up to it at right angles; if this is so, the groom’s family and friends should be at one end of the arrangement and the bride’s at the other. This is simply to make conversation and mixing among the guests easier; if one guest finds that he only knows the groom and he is sitting beside someone who only knows the bride, conversation may be a little difficult to initiate.

Picture Source: freepik . com

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