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How to plan a wedding reception

After you've chosen your wedding reception venue, you may wonder what to do next. Here's a list of tips to help you plan the perfect wedding reception.

5 tips when planning your wedding reception

  1. Decide on the formality of your wedding

    Chances are you already have a good idea on how formal you would like your wedding reception to be by the type of venue you chose. However, the venue may be able to accommodate different levels of formality - black tie, formal, semi formal, or informal. You can choose menu items, music, and bring in other decor that lends itself to the level of formality you have chosen. Be sure to notify your guests so they can plan appropriately and know what to expect.

  2. Book your DJ or band

    The best DJs and bands will book up fast, and you want to make sure you start early so that you can secure your first choice. Work with your wedding reception venue on the specifics of the sound system, microphones, lighting, set up space, and how long/late the music can be played. You can work on all the other details of the music (songs, dances, etc.) later in your planning.

  3. Create a schedule

    A wedding reception timeline is important to maximize the time you have for your reception to fit everything in seamlessly and not to feel rushed. Work with your venue on creating the perfect timeline. You will want to consider such things as having a cocktail hour, receiving line, wedding party introductions, toasts, dinner, cake cutting, dancing, garter and bouquet toss, and exit.

  4. Put together a rough floor plan

    Discuss the layout options for your room with your wedding venue contact, as this will help you determine:

    • Decorations
    • Seating arrangements
    • Cocktail space
    • Bar placement
    • Dessert and cake tables
    • Music location
    • Gift table
    • Table assignment location
    • Entrance for introductions
    • Receiving line location

  5. Select the menu and alcohol

    The dinner is one of the most important aspects of your wedding reception. The formality of your wedding will help you choose appropriate menu and serving options for the particular style. For example, if you decided on black tie, steak and lobster served by the plate and top-shelf liquor would be appropriate. Whereas, if you choose to be informal, a buffet with comfort foods and a choice of micro-brews may work best. Work with your venue or caterer on the menu and alcohol packages they offer.

As you prepare for your wedding day, another idea to consider is buying wedding insurance. Markel offers wedding cancellation insurance, which reimburses you for lost deposits and non-refundable amounts if you have to cancel or postpone your wedding due to unforeseen circumstances such as extreme weather, venue bankruptcy, or vendor no-shows. Coverage can be purchased anytime at least 14 days before your event, and policies start as low as $130.

Markel also offers wedding liability insurance, protecting you from incidents such as property damage to the venue or if someone gets injured at your event. Up to $2 million in wedding liability insurance can be purchased from Markel any time up to the day before your event. Policies start as low as $75.