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Reception Planning

Reception_Planning_0If you're going to plan a party, you might as well do it right -- and what party is bigger than your wedding reception? It's all but unthinkable to have a wedding without a reception; that would be like purchasing a new Ferrari and then forgetting to buy gas. All your friends and families are eager to celebrate your newly married state, so in a very real sense the reception is for them, not you. You see, they're just very happy to finally get you married off, and they're ready to scarf acres of food and gallons of wine in your honor -- so you don't want to disappoint them. How else will you get to enjoy that tipsy Best Man congratulatory toast halfway through the evening? And naturally enough, everyone will want to boogie the night away and get a chance to kiss the bride.

As with everything else, you'll need to spend a good bit of your precious prenuptial time planning your wedding reception, and then getting down to the business of acquiring everything you need to make it happen: the reception hall, catering, your cake, the band, flowers, and all those other little details. This is where a wedding planner can come in handy, assuming you can afford one; but if you can't, then you'll have to take a deep breath and jump in with both feet. As you make your plans, keep in mind the fact that the wedding reception should complement the wedding ceremony, and serve as a nice counterbalance to the formality of said ceremony. The reception location itself is your first priority. All details like bands and cake aside, you'll need something that combines proximity to your wedding ceremony location with affordability, availability, and capacity. It won't do to book a wedding party of 300 people for a hall with a 200-person capacity; similarly, a 30-person wedding party would be dwarfed in a massive reception hall intended to seat 500. You'll also have to make sure you book the wedding hall months in advance: six months would be best, though three months is the very latest you can let it go. The same's true of most of the vendors involved in the party, from the caterers down to the DJ.

The reception location itself doesn't necessarily have to be a reception hall, as such. Depending on the size of your wedding party, a hotel ballroom might do, or a yacht. Private homes, gardens (public and private), parks, and restaurants also make excellent locations for wedding receptions. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, check into the cost of holding your reception at a museum, a country club, or even a winery. Most of these locations would love the attention and the money you're willing to spend.

If you can't afford to hire a wedding planner to take care of all your wedding needs, fear not -- you still might be able to avoid most of the reception planning. Believe it or not, there are specialty wedding consultants who do nothing but take care of wedding receptions. These wedding reception planners don't necessarily come cheap, but they come cheaper than most wedding organizers. Instead of worrying about digging up a band, hiring a caterer, renting the hall, checking the cancellation policy, taking care of the paperwork, and the rest of that can of worms, just get the reception planning service to do it for you. Unless you're a micromanager, such services might be worth paying for, even if you have to take out a loan to do it. As with any wedding planner, you'll need to find an experienced professional with a take-charge personality who'll handle all these details for you, without simply taking over everything and doing it their way. On the other hand, you need to find someone you're comfortable with, since you'll be working with them closely for weeks, if not months. You should always review their references, just as you would when hiring anyone. If you must, go on the Internet and Google your prospective planner. If you've found your way here, it's clear that you the value of a good search engine.

Here's one final piece of advice: whether you opt for a reception planner or decide to do it yourself, have a contingency plan in place. If the reception hall burns down the day before the wedding, or if the planner you've been depending on somehow manages not to show up or otherwise botches his or her responsibilities (surely a shooting offense in most states), then you don't want to be left holding the bag. It's unlikely to every happen, of course, but you just never know -- and fortune favors the prepared. You'll need to be able to throw something together no matter what happens, even if you have to grit your teeth the entire time and keep reminding yourself that it's only a few hours until your honeymoon starts.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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