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Planning Your Reception

Your wedding reception will be the culmination of one of the most important days of your life and will be your first opportunity to visit and interact with your family and friends as a married couple. There are many things to consider when planning this function, and remember, the only rule is that there are no rules. This is your day and your chance to shine.

When deciding on a location, remember that many churches do not allow alcoholic beverages or dancing. If these activities are not important or appropriate, then the church fellowship hall or family life center are the best choice for your reception allowing quick access to the reception from the ceremony. Catholic churches and wedding chapels generally allow alcohol and dancing on premises which would allow all of the wedding day activities to take place in one location. Your other location alternatives are local hotels, country clubs, activity/convention centers, historic homes and botanical gardens. These locations, however, require your guests to be transported to a different location from the ceremony and you may lose a few guests in the process. These locations are better suited, however, to more festive occasions and allow for more of a party atmosphere. If you choose a hotel ballroom, lodging for your out of town guests can be included in your package deal.

Make sure that the order of activities is preset so that nothing is left out during the hectic and exciting atmosphere of the reception. This does not mean, however, that the order of activities canít change at a momentís notice, which it often does. The first activity is usually the reception line, or as a substitute, a leadout introduction which is becoming more and more popular, not just as a substitute for the old reception line, but to provide a way to have all wedding participants introduced. This can be handled expertly by your Emcee.

During the next "mix & mingle" part of the reception, your guests can get something to eat and drink while you and the photographer take care of other activities such as cutting the cake. This is also the best time for any toasts which need to be made. Many couples are putting disposable cameras on the tables and inviting the guests to snap random photos during the reception.

The location of your reception will directly affect whether you will be allowed to use an outside caterer. Facilities with their own kitchen and staff will want to include the catering charge in a package deal. Churches and historic locations such as antebellum homes or Botanical Gardens will allow an outside caterer. Give special attention on whether you want a fully served sit down dinner or a buffet style service. While a sit down dinner is more elegant, it also requires more planning and creates a more formal atmosphere. The mix and mingle atmosphere provided by the buffet style service allows for less planning and more casual party atmosphere.

Flowers still remain the best decoration choice for more formal receptions. However, for a casual or party atmosphere, balloons are becoming more acceptable.

The entertainment that you choose could be the most important reception item of all. Everyone loves "live" music and a harpist, piano player, jazz combo or band can be used depending on your reception location and the ambiance that you wish to create.
Hiring a Mobile Disk Jockey will typically allow you to have a greater selection of music choices and provide an Emcee for your reception activities.††