Boston & New England Wedding Photographer Deborah Zoe

Boston & North Shore Wedding Photographer creating timeless imagery for classic New England weddings with a fine art approach.

Plan The Perfect Reception

The Reception is your time to let loose and celebrate!! It is important to thoughtfully plan out this part of the day and your DJ, caterer and venue coordinator will help walk you through how to best plan for the evening. As you bring together details with your team, there are several things to keep in mind as you map out the night’s festivities. In today's DZP Planning Series I'm sharing my favorite tips to help you plan the perfect reception.

Consider Flow
A plated meal or buffet will determine the flow of the floor plan, even the decor. Work with your venue coordinator to find a setup that allows for movement and gives guests a clear sense of what to expect.

Smaller Details
Smaller details like escort cards, menus and favors can all enhance your guest’s experience. These details help to give your guests direction in what to expect next and further the vision of the wedding day. These smaller details can be beautiful and elaborate or you can choose to forgo certain items -- it’s all up to you!! For example, some couples will choose to forgo favors in lieu of a donation to a charity of their choice, a great way to to celebrate and give back.

If you are interested in having your wedding considered for publication, you'll want to plan out the details of your wedding day thoughtfully, including your reception details. Additionally you'll need to schedule time for your photographer to photograph these details before guests disturbed them, usually during cocktail hour.

Your DJ, Band or venue may provide additional lighting for the reception. While it is not needed from a photography perspective, uplighting and professional lighting can be a great way to provide character to the background of your reception while enhancing the experience for your guests.

DJ or Band
A DJ and Band will provide your guests with two very different reception experiences. A DJ can provide a flow and direction and while engaging your guests to get up on the dance floor. A Band provides a live music atmosphere and has an added wow factor. Choose the option that represents your personalities best and the type of environment you want to give your guests.

As you plan when the events of the reception will take place keep your guests in mind. You do not want long periods where nothing is happening nor do you want to cram too many events into a short period of time. Also consider elderly guests who may not stay till the end of your reception. If there are any events you would like them to be part of or experience, keep them towards the earlier part of the evening.

Often photography coverage will last through the main reception events including an hour of open dance floor. Typically the people who will be dancing in the first hour will be the same people who are dancing three hours later. If you'd like more of your reception covered, especially if you are doing a grand exit, you may want to consider adding additional coverage.

Reception Events

Just like your ceremony, the reception is your opportunity to express your unique personalities and tailor the evening to exactly to you. Here are list of several key events you may want to consider including in your reception :

Bridal Party Introductions
First Dance
Welcome by Father of the Bride or Special Loved One
Thank You from Bride & Groom
Father/Daughter Dance
Mother/Son Dance
Money Dance
Anniversary Dance
Traditional Religious Dances
Cake Cutting
Large Group Portraits with Friends or Family

Reception Details

As mentioned above, if you're interested in having your wedding considered for a feature in a publication, you'll want to thoughtfully plan your reception details. Editors like the small touches that help tie a wedding day vision together. From your color palette to the linens used in the design, it all plays an important role in creating a cohesive experience. Below are some details you may want to consider including in your reception : 

Escort Cards/Table


Specialty Stationary


Cake or Dessert Table

Drink Bar with signature cocktails

Cocktail Hour Entertainment

Specialty Signage

Chair Signs/Decor

Lounge furniture

Specialty Linens

Specialty plates & serving utensils

Candles and other decorative elements 

!!Flowers, flowers, flowers!!

I highly encourage Brides to consider working with a planner who will be skilled in not only helping plan the reception and the day's festivities, but will also be someone who can cohesively bring your vision to life.