Reception Do’s & Don’ts

Avoid disaster at your wedding reception with advice from a few 417-land wedding gurus.

By Kathryn Bennett

Dec 2013


To help you avoid disaster at your wedding reception, we get some advice from a few 417-land wedding and reception gurus. Andrea Burnett at Dining By Design, John Luchtel at University Plaza Hotel and Jill Barron of Infused Catering all share some of their most useful reception do’s and don’ts.

DON’T forget to check how much electricity your venue can support. You don’t want a blown breaker during your reception.Jill Barron of Infused Catering

DO consider your budget when choosing a reception time. For a 5 p.m. wedding, you need to feed guests more, but at 2 p.m. you can get away with cake and punch.Jill Barron of Infused Catering

DON’T serve fried foods at the reception. They don’t hold up as well as other foods.John Luchtel at University Plaza Hotel

DO incorporate something local into your reception theme.John Luchtel of University Plaza Hotel

Don’t keep guests waiting for the reception longer than 45 minutes unless you provide hors d’oeuvres or start the cocktail hour.Andrea Burnett of Dining by Design

Don’t make it complicated. Couples love to include their family in the planning process. Instead, select one person to communicate with vendors to avoid confusion. Andrea Burnett of Dining by Design

Do ask questions and know the capabilities of each vendor. Your florist might be able to do pipe and drape and will give you a package price. Your caterer might have rentals and so on. Booking seasoned vendors with a wide array of services will save you time and money.—Andrea Burnett of Dining by Design

Do offer at least two options for guests at dinner. If possible, you can provide a third option for vegetarians. Better yet, take a hint from the tiny bites trend and allow guests to graze on a variety of appetizers for their meal.—Jill Barron

Do spend quality time organizing the RSVP list. Have your list, and make a “yes” list, a “no” list and a “maybe” list of people you aren’t sure about. It’s the “maybe” list that you have to be sure about. People on the “maybe” list should be called, but by someone other than the bride. Have the wedding party or some friends host a pizza party and call people on the maybe list. Otherwise, the bride gets stuck on the phone talking wedding details or gets false yes answers from people afraid to hurt the bride’s feelings. —Jill Barron

Don’t leave the open bar unsupervised. With an open bar, be very cautious and watch for under-age drinking. This is also the bride and groom’s responsibility. Delegate a monitor or two who can watch for and prevent under-age drinking and drunk driving.—Jill Baron

Don’t attempt to do everything yourself or have your friends do it. It’s your special day—put it in the hands of a competent professional. —John Luchtel of University Plaza Hotel

Do use caution when dealing with food or other materials that could make a mess, especially on hot days.  At one reception there were blue—colored M&M’s in a little mesh bag at each place setting. The water goblets began to sweat and got water on the table cloths, and then the blue dye from the M&M’s got all over the rented table cloths. —Jill Baron 

Do keep children busy during the reception. I always suggest a children’s table or even a children’s craft table where they are making things. Another good move would be to hire a babysitter to watch kids in an adjacent room.—Jill Baron

Do have a website and an email that guests can use to RSVP online instead of by mail. The more ways you can grab a yes or no the better you are.—Jill Baron

Do ask if the venue lets you decorate the day before. Some let you do it for free or let you pay for extra hours. It’s easier for you and the venue.—Jill Baron

Do consider getting professional decorating help. Paying for someone to decorate the venue for you and tear down is worth the money.—Jill Baron