While a wedding ceremony is likely to be emotional and poignant, the reception should be fun, fun, fun! Regardless of where it’s held, how many people attend, or how much it costs, your wedding reception is a time to celebrate with people you care about and who care about you. It’s a time for good food, toasts, music, dancing, and being congratulated and photographed. It’s a time you will want to remember forever. A reception typically consumes about onethird of a wedding budget, meaning that it’s definitely a big deal. When planning your reception, consider all available options and remember that there are many ways you can trim costs if that is a concern. Where to Have Your Wedding Reception There are many location choices for wedding receptions within the Greater Reading Area, ranging from beautiful, outdoor settings to cozy, indoor locales. When choosing a location, consider your personal preferences, budget, and the number of people you’ll need to accommodate. Basically, there are two types of reception sites – those that charge a per person fee that includes almost everything you’ll need, and those that charge a room rental fee, with you responsible for providing almost everything else.
If you’ve got an outdoor reception in mind, check for venues that facilitate, or better yet, specialize in, outdoor events. You will need to work with a site representative who can give direction regarding what will be provided and what you’ll need to rent, such as a tent, dance floor, tables, chairs, linens, and so forth. Keep in mind that outdoor receptions, while beautiful and festive, come with some special challenges that you’ll want to thoroughly address in advance. Most popular venues for wedding receptions fill up far in advance, meaning that booking your reception is something you’ll want to do early in the planning process. You can focus on decorating and other details after you've reserved your location. After you’ve determined the type of reception you want, narrow your search to a few places. Take time to compare features and ask some questions before making a final decision. Be sure to consider the following: �
Is the location the right size for your guest list? If you’re having a large gathering, is it big enough to comfortably accommodate all your guests? If your reception is more intimate, consider if the space might be too large for your guests. You might want to consider a facility that offers a bar/lounge area away from the dining tables, giving guests who wish to do so a chance to move around and spread their wings a bit.
�eception Unless you’ve already decided on a place for your reception, you’ll want to do some research to see what’s available. If the ceremony and reception are in two different locations, most couples prefer to hold them fairly close to one another. When thinking about a location, remember to consider all the possibilities. Wedding receptions can be held in all kinds of spaces, ranging from public buildings to private homes. Locally, wedding receptions are held in museums; art centers; historic mansions, hotels, and inns; private clubs; outside groves and parks; ballrooms; restaurants; and at historic sites. Look for locations that will accommodate and enhance the style of your wedding, considering the level or formality, whether you’ll be there during the day or at night, the colors involved, and other factors.
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Will there be other events at your location on the same day or at the same time? This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker,but consider the possibility that you’ll be sharing space with people from another party. If the place you’re considering will have multiple events on your wedding day, try to visit the location on a day there is more than one event there to see what it’s like before you agree to rent it. Pay attention to noise, traffic flow, and so forth.
Be sure to let a representative at your reception venue know about any special dietary needs of guests. The site or caterer should be willing to work with you to accommodate any special circumstances. � Robin Lebengood, Crowne Plaza Reading Hotel
oes the location match your budget? You’ll be given a rental fee, D and then it’s time to start investigating. Ask what deposits are required, what sort of payment plan is in place, and what the cancellation policy is like. Find out if there are extra fees for parking, security or janitorial services, and so forth. Many facilities include basics such as tables, chairs, and linens, but be sure to clarify exactly what is included in the fee and be sure to factor in all costs involved before signing a contract for the location. Is the site convenient for you and your guests? If a third of your guests are from out of town, will they need overnight accommodations? If so, it may make sense to consider a location with overnight facilities, such as a hotel, inn, or bed and breakfast. Is there adequate parking for guests? Is it handicapped accessible? Are there adequate spaces for photo opportunities?
marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. Mignon McLaughlin
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ill you be able to add your personal touches to the location? W If the hall or other location is already decorated, will you be able to make changes or additions to match your wedding style and colors? Ask to see photos of other receptions held there to get some ideas of what types of decors are possible.
hat’s the situation with food and catering? Some locations require W that they provide all food services, while others allow you to arrange for whatever catering services you want. Also, be sure to ask about the alcohol policy. Is the facility known for excellent service? You don’t want to end up worrying about details on your wedding day. Choose a place that’s known for excellent service. Work closely with representatives ahead of time to assure that all details are covered so you can relax and enjoy your day.
Dining Options While many brides and grooms choose a reception with a sit-down, served dinner, that is just one option available as you plan your event. There are no rules here. Depending on the time and style of your wedding, you could consider a brunch, buffet, tasting menu, food stations, or even a picnic lunch with menu options that match your wedding theme. The Greater Reading area has no shortage of good food and dining options – the difficult part may be selecting what you want from among them. Some reception venues require that you use their catering services. As long as you’ve sampled the food and know that it’s what you want, this is a fine option. If your venue doesn’t include catering services, you’ll need to make those arrangements yourself. Be sure to do plenty of research and ask a lot of people for recommendations before choosing a caterer. Let’s take a closer look at some dining options. �
ors d’oeuvres reception. Some couples opt to have a cocktails H and hors d’oeuvres reception rather than a sit down dinner. This is especially appropriate for an afternoon wedding. There are, literally, hundreds of options for hors d’oeuvres, ranging from fondue stations to elegant bites served from trays to a chicken wing buffet. If you choose this option, just be sure to plan for a wide variety of hors d’oeuvres so everyone can find foods they like.
uffet dinner. A buffet meal is simply one with a variety of foods that B guests select and either serve for themselves, or are served to them at the buffet table. Some wedding venues offer buffet service while others offer only sit-down options, so be sure to ask.
In a pinch, your guests will be grateful for useful items placed in baskets in the bathrooms. Feel free to pick and choose from the list below. � Meggan Kerber, Toscani Events by ViVÁ
Items for both Men's and Women's Baskets Tylenol/ Advil Body spray Comb Toothpicks Brush Cups for mouth wash First aid kit - Band-Aids, Sewing kit — needles, threads, buttons, antiseptic wipes, gauze snaps, tape measure, scissors Safety pins (assorted sizes) Lint roller Chap-stick Static cling spray Lotion Blotting papers Hair-spray & gel Nail clippers Shout wipes & Tide to go Pen Tweezers Gum Breath strips Breath mints Scissors Tissues Alka Seltzer Nail file Immodium AD Mouthwash Baby Powder Dental floss Shoe polish Tums Q-tips Spray deodorant Contact Rewetting Drops
Visine Cough Drops Purell Wisp disposable toothbrush Granola Bar Packing Tape Double Sided Tape Instant Hem & Cuff Fabric Tape Crazy Glue Sharpie, Pen, Post-it Notes Extra Items for Women’s Basket White Chalk (to cover stains on wedding dress) Pads Tampons Clear nail polish Hair Elastics Bobby Pins
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edding brunch. A brunch can be a lovely option for a late-morning W ceremony, with the advantages of usually being less expensive and less formal than a sit-down dinner. You’ll want to work with representatives from your venue or with a reputable caterer to plan the right variety of food choices for guests.
Served dinner. This is probably the best option for a formal event, and some guests expect to be served at a wedding reception. This is normally the most expensive dining option. If you’re on a tight budget you'll really need to stick to a plan.
ood stations. These themed serving stations are a hot reception trend. F Generally, food stations are located at various places in the reception hall and serve one food or one food variety. You could, have a seafood station, a cheese station, a pasta station, a carving station, or whatever else you can imagine. The idea is to keep guests moving around and mingling, and food stations offer the advantage of allowing you to offer a wide variety of foods.
amily-style serving. Some bridal parties like this option because it’s less F formal and assures that guests will interact with one another as they pass plates and bowls of food.
o-Go Containers. Consider To-Go containers for the many leftovers that T might otherwise go to waste. Talk to your caterer or reception hall staff in advance to make this convenient for your guests.
Again, your dining options will be determined by your budget, the type of venue you choose, your wedding style, and your personal preferences. Whatever you choose, just be sure to pay attention to details and hire reputable caterers and service providers.
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BUDGET CHECKLIST Reception Site Fee $ Hors d'oeuvres $ Main Meal/Caterer $ Liquor/Drinks $ Bar Set-up/Bartending Fees $ Corkage Fee $ Coffee Pouring Fee $ Service Providers' Meals $ Gratuity $ Party Favors $ Disposable Cameras $ Rose Petals/Rice $ Gift Attendant Fee $ Valet Services/Parking Fees $ Tent/Canopy $ Dance Floor $ Tables & Chairs $ Linens/Tableware $ Heaters/Fans $ Lanterns $ TOTAL $
Cocktails Cocktails are a traditional aspect of a wedding reception, as they are considered celebratory. If you choose not to serve alcohol, you can keep your reception festive and happy by serving sparkling punches and juices, flavored waters, fruit smoothies, and so forth. If you will be serving alcohol, there are some guidelines to keep in mind. An open bar is a fully stocked bar from which guests are free to get whatever, and as many drinks as they wish. This, of course, is your most expensive option. Other possibilities include an open bar for a limited portion of the reception, and just beer, and wine and non-alcoholic drinks available after that time. Or, you could offer just wine and beer, and opt for a cash bar, at which guests pay for their own cocktails. If you donâ€™t have a bar at your reception, you might consider a champagne toast at the table, just before dinner is served. This is when someone, typically the best man, proposes a toast and guests drink champagne to wish you well. Another option is to provide wine for guests to enjoy with dinner. If you serve alcoholic beverages, estimate on about one drink per guest per hour for budgeting. Your wedding consultant, caterer, or venue representative will be able to help you decide what liquors and beverages to have on hand. The most popular are vodka, rum, gin, scotch, bourbon, white and red wine, champagne, and beer. Some wedding parties offer a signature cocktail, such as mojitos or martinis, supplemented by wine and beer, instead of a fully stocked open bar. Punches, either with or without alcohol, also are popular.
Rentals If you hire a reception site that is all inclusive, you won’t have to worry about renting equipment and accessories for your reception. If you’re renting a venue that simply charges a room fee, you’ll need to pay close attention to what you need. Most facilities at least include tables and chairs. You’ll need to make sure there are enough for your guests, however, and make arrangements to rent more, if necessary. Other items to consider renting include: � � � � � �
Table linens, including chair covers Tents, if applicable
China and silverware Candle holders
Champagne fountains Cake plateaus
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Serving tables Steam tables Lighting
Dance floor, if applicable Table décor
Work with your wedding consultant, caterer, or a site representative to determine exactly what you’ll need to supply and where you can get it. There are various party rental places in the Greater Reading area.
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Location Ideas for My Wedding Art Gallery Ballroom Banquet Hall Barn Beach Golf Course Grove Hilltop Home
Hotel Inn Island Lake Landmark Mansion Museum Private Club Park
Public Space Reception Hall Religious Facility Resort Restaurant Retreat Sports Facility Tavern