Wedding Reception Setup: The Basics

You’ve marked calendars and sent off the invitations. Now it’s the time to consult the wedding planner and book the reception venue! Food, décor, lights and music are not the only things you need to think about. You have to consider more practical matters such as securing the right location, planning the seating arrangement and testing the sound system when viewing the prospective location.


Photo by Under One Tree

The Right Location

Knowing how many guests you are expecting is the key to finding the right venue for your reception whether you choose to book a scenic park or a grand ballroom. You may want to create a list of features your ideal venue should have to help you decide if the place is for you.

On-Site: Hotels ballrooms, restaurants and country club function rooms examples of on-site venues. These locations can provide you with catering, entertainment and audio equipment. That’s almost everything you can think of when you start planning the reception.

Photo by Signature Bridal

Off-Site: Parks, beaches, art galleries and historical buildings are categorized as off-site venues. Although these places are available for rent, you have to find most of the vendors yourself. Such an option is great for couples who love the challenge of planning every aspect of their own wedding.

All Inclusive: Some venues like hotels offer bridal packages. You can select the suitable room size, desired décor, wedding favours, menus and entertainment from a given list. While your choices are limited, you get a number of attractive discounts and complimentary services in return.

Photo by Mirage Flowers

The Seating Arrangement

Planning the seating can be a headache. You want to do your best to make sure everyone enjoys those few hours, so you need to make sure they have enough leg room besides pairing them with their ideal conversation partners.

Bridal Party: The bridal party is usually seated with the newlyweds at the head table. Traditionally, the bride will be seated to groom’s right. The maid of honour will be seated on his left and the best man will be seated on the bride’s right. No two men nor two women should be seating side-by-side.

Single Friends: Some people are embarrassed to be single, while others aren’t. Usually seating them with their clique is fine, even though most are happily married or attached. However, surrounding them with couples they don’t know is a huge no-no. That makes it awkward for everyone at the table.

Children: Seat young children with their parents, because their parents would prefer to keep a close eye on them. A separate kids table is a good idea only if there a big group of older children attending. Though to be considerate, you may want to place the table where their parents can see them.

Photo by Avior Pictures

Colour Scheme

You can recreate any theme with the right palette. For example, cool whites, pale blues and glittering silver are great for a winter-themed December wedding while vibrant reds and yellows suit a summer-themed June wedding. Paying attention to such details that makes or breaks your desired theme.

Music and Power Outlets

Knowing the venue’s volume restrictions is more important. The music must remain at an acceptable volume and it has to wind down by a certain time. You also need to know how many power outlets are available. These are questions your chosen band or DJ will ask after you submit an enquiry.

Photo by Kent Wong Photography


Allowing your guest to be able to see where they are walking and what they are eating is important, but you can do much more with lights. Choosing the correct kind of lighting sets the mood for the night. Consult a lighting specialist if you need help picking out the correct lights to match your theme.

Decorating your reception venue isn’t that stress. Once you’ve settled the above, you are more than halfway through. Every other detail depends on the decisions you’ve made at this stage, so focus on these first.

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