Reception Venue Checklist

The ceremony is where you seal the deal, but the reception is where you celebrate the biggest day of your life.

The venue you choose can make a huge difference to the mood that’s set for your guests and the amount of fun that’s had on the night. There’s an incredible amount of effort that goes into choosing the perfect venue and making sure that it’s set up, just as you envisioned it- so we’ve devised this checklist to help you ensure that your reception is a party worth remembering.


One Year to Go

• If you’re dreaming of hosting your reception in an ultra-popular venue, now’s the time to book. This rule also applies if you are planning on having your wedding around the time of a major event or public holiday.
• The same goes for destination weddings. You’ll need to book the venue now, to secure your date in your dream destination.

9 Months

• If you’re opting for a less-popular venue, you have a little more time up your sleeve. Start scouting for possible venues. Ask friends and family members for referrals; search online; and simply drop into hotels, function centres and restaurants in your town. Don’t forget to take notes, everywhere you go, so that you can compare the practicality, atmosphere and general prettiness of each location.

6 Months

• If you haven’t already done so, decide on a venue and book that baby.
• Don’t forget to discuss details, such as who is responsible for providing linens, before signing on the dotted line.
• Ask for a copy of the venue’s procedures and protocols, which you can give to your vendors. This might include legalities for off-site caterers, or where hire cars are allowed to park for the evening.
Start planning your decorations. Think about whether you are going to DIY it, purchase pre-made decorations, or have your planner arrange them. Flip through design magazines and browse the internet for inspiration.

4 Months

• If you’ve decided to make your own decorations, hit up your local craft store and get all of your supplies. Tinker with decoration designs until you’re satisfied, and then time yourself assembling each piece. Work out how many pieces you will need, of each item, and then set up a timeline to complete them all. Watching TV in the evening is a great time to get bunting and centrepieces done.

3 Months

• DIY gals: invite your bridesmaids over to watch a chick flick and get a good chunk of your decorations made.
• If you’ve decided to purchase decorations, this is the time to get all of the bits and pieces that you’ll need.

1 Month

• You should have all of your RSVPs by now, which means you can set to work on your seating arrangement chart. Try not to pull your hair out over this one. It can be stressful, but the staff at your reception venue can give you an idea on how many people you should seat at each table and a rough guide to where tables can be placed, to best cater for the number of guests you have. Now all you have to worry about is not seating quarrelling family members too close to each other!
• Once you’ve arranged your seating, look at your floor plan and set aside space for your vendors to set up things like a photobooth, sound equipment, the cake table and floral arrangements. Send this plan to your vendors to confirm that they’re going to have enough space.

1 Week

• Make sure that everyone is clear on their jobs. This includes decorating the tables, setting up the guest book table and displaying the seating arrangement chart.
• Bestow the important role of collecting your wedding presents at the end of the night on someone trustworthy.
• Make arrangements for any leftover cake. This could be as simple as asking Mum to whack it in her freezer, until you get home from your honeymoon.

The Day Before

• Give the best man – or someone responsible – some extra cash, so that he can pay for any additional fees on the night of the reception. Always be prepared, just in case the reception runs a little overtime or your guests consume more alcohol than what you anticipated. The last thing you want to do is scramble around for your wallet, or duck down to an ATM, when you should be being whisked away to your hotel room, enjoying your first night of wedded bliss.
• If you have access to your reception venue the day before, you may be able to set up your decorations now. Don’t do it all by yourself – that’s how bridal burnout is born. Get your bridesmaids or family members to set up the venue and then go and inspect it once they’re done.

The Big Day

• Smile as you walk through the door.
• Greet your guests, enjoy their company and have a blast dancing the night away, eating delicious cake and drinking just a little too much champagne. You’re married!