Planning a wedding reception is a time of fun, excitement and great expectations. Your wedding day is one of the most important days in your life and you want it to be as perfect as possible. But to many, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the things to plan and organize while planning a wedding reception. If you don’t have someone to guide you, it’s easy to get confused. So the first things you’re asking yourself is; where do I start? What are the most important parts that we should focus on? How do we get organized better? How do we make things run as smooth as possible for our wedding day?
There is some highly useful information about wedding planning on websites such as; The Knot, Style Me Pretty and The Budget Savvy Bride. But, we wanted to go one step further and to give you the first hand information, directly from a wedding planner. So we decided to interview Boston’s wedding planner Kristin Healy, the Owner and Creative Event Director of Swank Events.
Kristin agreed to give us some extremely important guidelines and information so that we can share them with you. You can either listen to our podcast Creative Living: Planning a wedding reception, below. Or you can read on if you want to better digest the information Kristin has given us.
Can you tell our audience something about yourself and your wedding planning business?
Kristin: We have been planning events for many years, corporate and social events. We plan tons of weddings annually. Every wedding is different, and that makes it so much fun. Additionally, we plan many other events. Company events, birthday parties and any type of event you can think of. We plan events through Boston and throughout New England. There is some beautiful locations throughout New England, and we go where couples go.
Carl: It’s funny how times change, wedding days are changing as well. I’ve noticed some couples getting married on Mondays as well.
Kristin: Yes, I’ve been noticing that trend as well. We have some couples getting married on Fridays.
Can you tell us a bit about the order of a wedding reception?
Kristin: All weddings are different. But typically, after the ceremony and cocktail hour, the guests enter the reception hall and find their seats. Then the bridal party is introduced. And then the couple is introduced, as a couple for the first time. Typically they go into their first dance, or they may be given questions or a speech. They may have parent dances, then they’ll cut the cake and the dance floor will open to everyone. We try to include a dance timeline, which includes plenty of dance. That’s something people look forward to.
What parts of a wedding reception need most attention while planning in order to avoid stressful or awkward situations?
Kristin: A lot of thought and planning should go to all of the reception formalities. The bridal party, introductions, the first dance, parent dances, cutting the cake and any other planned event. Those are the events that you need to happen. You want to make sure you plan and think them through. Family dynamics always play a big role. It’s really interesting. If there are any tendencies for drama, you want to focus more attention there. Other things are the logistics. You want to make sure the guests have an RSVP. If you can’t get the note back from someone, you have to make sure you plan on them attending. It’s much easier and less awkward for the caterer to have the place setting. In any event it’s always better to anticipate the issues and address them before they arrive. This is a value that we as event planners provide as our expertise. We’re able to predict the challenges and offer the solution to the client.
From your experience, what are the most common mistakes people make in their wedding reception plans?
Kristin: Most couples don’t build enough time into the day. There’s so much going on, you’re being pulled in millions of different directions, and the last thing you want to do is feel lashed. If you’re okay with taking photos before the day, that can be a huge time saver. That way you can spend more time with the guests. If not, you can add some extra time after the ceremony.
What are the dos and don’ts when planning a wedding reception?
Kristin: The number one DO would be obvious, hire a wedding planner. If not for any of the pre-events, then just for the wedding day. It will save you a headache, because you DON’T want to be the contact for anything. You want to be able to enjoy your day.
Another thing I would say is, DO make the day a reflection of you as a couple. Add personal touches and make it all about you, because that’s what it really is. It’s the small details that will be remembered. DO have a rain plan. DO practice walking in your wedding shoes. Do consider a band if it’s in your budget. They bring amazing energy to the big day.
As for the DON’TS. Don’t put your time and energy on things you can’t control. Like the weather. Have a rain plan, but don’t focus on that because there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t forget to eat. So many people forget to eat enough because there’s so much going on. But you want to make sure you eat and that you’re hydrated. But not too hydrated! Don’t spend the day on social media, so many people do that today. You want to be in the moment as much as you can! Don’t forget to give your speeches within a time limit. The good rule of thumb is 5 minutes. Your guests will appreciate if there’s a time limit on that. Finally, I would say don’t forget to consider a videographer. So many people dismiss the importance of a videographer. Images are great and you do need a photographer. But a video will capture all the special moments, personalities and the excitement of the day.
Carl: Kristen, thank you so much for being with us today. You’ve really shared some important information with us.
Kristin: Thank you so much for having me, it was fun chatting with you.
Carl: Where can people reach you if they want to hire you as their wedding planner, your website is awesome, and can you share it with us?