Creating A Wedding Reception Checklist


Here is a wedding reception checklist that has detailed information about the things that you may need to do between now and your wedding reception.

You can use this example to create your own checklist.



A Year Before your Reception

(or as soon as you become engaged)

  • Select a wedding date
  • Start making your guest list. Creating a guest list is one of the most important parts of a wedding reception checklist. You can't create a budget or select a reception site unless you have an idea of how many people will be attending the event.
  • Create a budget
  • Get your engagement/wedding announcement published online and/or in your local newspaper.


Eleven months prior

  • Pick the reception venue. (choosing your venue is the highlight of a wedding reception checklist) It would be ideal for the reception venue to be in close proximity to the ceremony site so that guests don't have too far to travel and to lessen the chances of guests getting lost, especially out-of-towners.
  • Develop a theme and color scheme for your day. This is especially important when it comes to planning your reception since there tends to be more decorative elements.
  • Decide on the decor. Your color scheme and theme will have direct impact on the decor that you decide. Your decor would include lighting and backdrops. You might want to think about hiring an event designer.

Ten months prior

  • Choose who will be a part of your bridal party
  • Decide if you will have a second dress. Many brides choose to wear a second dress for the reception. It allows you to have two looks on your day. You can also have a dress that is more comfortable for dancing if your first dress is bigger and grander.

Nine months prior

  • Look into entertainment for the party, which includes a band or DJ and possibly games.
  • Select a caterer if one is not included with the venue that you have chosen.


Eight months prior

Find a hotel for out-of-town guests, your wedding day preparation and the wedding night.

If your reception venue is a hotel or resort; it might be easier to have everyone stay where the reception is held.

They won't have far to travel after the party (which is great for those who like to drink) and it may grant you a discount on rooms (you might even get yours free!).


Seven months prior

  • Set up your gift registry
  • Start looking at wedding cakes. You may even want a groom cake. Grooms cakes tend to be a southern tradition and are usually novelty cakes that are based on the groom's interests.

Six months prior

  • Book your band, DJ, and entertainment
  • Look into booking any rentals that you may need including tables, chairs, tents, etc

Five months prior

Four months prior

  • Book florist and select reception flowers and centerpieces (not everyone chooses floral centerpieces though)
  • Do a food tasting and select the menu

Three months prior

  • Have a bridal portrait done. This is another southern tradition. Many brides will have portraits taken in their wedding dress and have them displayed at the reception or in their homes.
  • Order reception stationery including reception programs, menus, table numbers and place cards.

Two months prior

  • Order accessories like the cake topper, toasting flutes, etc.
  • Send out the wedding invitations
  • Start taking dance lessons if you want to have a more professional first dance
  • Order your wedding favors


Shop Wedding Supplies at The Knot


One month prior

  • Confirm information with your vendors
  • Have a fitting of your second wedding dress
  • Make a song list of songs that you want to have played at your reception and give it to your Band or DJ

Two weeks prior

  • Pay all of your vendors
  • Create a floor plan or layout for the tables at the reception site
  • Begin the seating arrangements

One week prior

  • Give a final headcount to the caterer as well as entree' selections if that is an option
  • Put together favors if they require assembly
  • Address the place cards
  • Have a final dance lesson

The day before

  • Have a massage
  • Relax and get some rest

The wedding day

  • Eat a meal
  • Go to your appointments (better yet have them come to you)
  • Have photos taken
  • Enjoy your day


Not Looking for a wedding reception checklist?


I you are looking for a list of other things to do for your wedding then you should check out our wedding planning checklist

We also have a wedding reception checklist for the order of a wedding reception with more planning information.


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