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Planning A Wedding Reception

Jan 31, 2008
Nothing is quite as fun or as stressful as planning a really big party, and your wedding reception is one of the biggest parties that you will ever have. One of the concepts that most people bring into their wedding day is that the ceremony is for the bride and groom (although all are invited and encouraged to bear witness) but it is the reception that is going to stand out in the minds of the guests. With this in mind, it is clear why it is important to have a good idea when it comes to what goes into a wedding reception, who takes care of what, and all the basic elements.

Who pays?

One common misconceptions when it comes to traditional wedding ideas is that the father of the bride foots the bill for the whole day. In fact, the father of the bride traditionally only paid for the reception, and thus he was considered the host of the event.

Today, there are any number of options when it comes to payments. Couples may pay for their receptions themselves, the father or parents of the bride may pay, or the parents of the groom may pay. Of course, any combination of these is also a possibility. Still, more often than not it will end up being the bride's dad who pays for the reception; just make sure that if you are doing it for tradition, that you are clear what the tradition really is!

Elements of the Reception

Depending on budget and time, there are several elements that are incorporated into wedding receptions. This checklist offers a general order, as well as some suggestions as to which vendor's services are required.

Arrival of the Bride and Groom. This aspect is usually announced by the Master of Ceremonies, although the father of the bride may wish to do so if he is hosting the event. Guests will often begin arriving half an hour or so early, so it is important that they have some refreshments waiting for them. This may include some bottles of wine on the tables, a bar with a bartender, or a combination.

The Meal. Without exception, a wedding reception will include a meal. The meal is the responsibility of the caterer; if you use a professional company, then they will likely also provide you with your wine and champagne needs for the night. The Master of Ceremonies announces that dinner is about to be served and then calls each table up, beginning with the head table.

Program. Most wedding receptions will include a program when the meal concludes, before the cake is eaten. This program might incorporate an open mike, special music, and other presentations. The end of the program is signaled by the toasts. The toast to the bride is the most important of these, but there can also be toasts to the groom and the other members of the wedding party as well. Generally the wine at the tables is gone at this point, and the guests will toast with some champagne or more wine supplied from the bar.

Cake. The conclusion of the program means it is time to cut the cake! Many couples are adding dessert wines to their cake eating as a way to complement the experience.

Dance. Many people remember the dance as the most spectacular part of the wedding day. Whether you choose a live band or a DJ, the dance music should be suited to your own tastes. It's a party atmosphere, and the drinks and the good will flow freely!

A wedding reception is what will truly mark your day apart from all others. The wedding reception should be planned to reflect the personalities of the couple in all aspects, from the meal to the drinks to the program and the dancing.
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