Master Wedding Planners Share Tips on How to Make Your Reception the Talk of the Town


Now that you have the wedding date and venue settled, the countdown clock on the wedding deadline starts ticking. Inevitably, this is when that overwhelming feeling starts to creep in. But with a little expert strategy, you can pull everything off without losing your sanity.

First, look at vendors that can only book one wedding per day. “A photographer can’t do five weddings in one day, but a cake baker can,” says Master Wedding Planner Brigid Horne-Nestor of i-do Weddings & Events. “In order of booking priority, it should almost always be the venue, the photographer, the videographer, and then the music, DJ, or band.” Ultimately, consider scarcity, too: It might be hard to book bands for a December reception (because holidays) or find transportation in April (because prom), so you’ll need to move those up in priority, Horne-Nestor adds. After booking those main vendors, that’s when you can hightail it to Pinterest and start making decisions about design, color scheme, florist, cake, and linens.

In the final three months or so before the big day, you’ll want to nail down your timeline for the reception. “Your vendors can really help with that, especially the photographer, videographer, band, or DJ, if you don’t have a planner,” Horne-Nestor says. “An organized timeline goes a long way with keeping the wedding day running smoothly and prevents a lot of problems.” You’ll also want to consider cleanup. Most venues don’t have a place to store rentals, so you’ll need to plan ahead for when those will be delivered and returned.
Items to stress less about? “Food,” Horne-Nestor says. “Guests are not there to have the best meal of their lives; they’re there to celebrate with you. People don’t really remember the food unless it was terrible or it ran out.”

Prepare for the Worst

It’s easy to think of major mishaps that could seriously derail your wedding day plans: natural disasters, a no-show vendor, getting food poisoning. But there are other scenarios—some seemingly trivial—that can put just as much of a damper on your flow.

First off, know where to find the first aid kit and if there’s an onsite defibrillator. “Something can happen at any moment, at any venue, with any client,” says Master Wedding Planner Elisa MacKenzie of Elegant Events.

Another big one? “Pace yourself the night before the wedding,” MacKenzie adds. “There’s nothing worse than a tux (or gown) and a hangover, and it happens way more often than you’d think.”

Consider ways the weather could affect your day. “Chocolate cake does not do well in heat, for example,” Horne-Nestor says. And even if it’s sunny on your wedding day, your preplanned photo site could be too wet or muddy to use if it’s been rainy in the days prior.

As a rule, trust your vendors’ expertise in avoiding adverse scenarios. “If you have gone to the trouble of making sure the person you’re hiring is good at what they do, you can leave it up to them,” Horne-Nestor says.

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