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How To Start Planning A Wedding Reception


March 21, 2022

Starlight Terrace Corporate event venue in San Diego County set up with round tables and decorated in a pink and white theme

How To Start Planning A Wedding Reception

While you might think planning a wedding reception is as easy as a piece of wedding cake, there are a handful of details and specifics you’ll want to smooth out before the big day arrives. Even if you’ve already figured out the wedding ceremony, there are wedding reception details that aren’t always acknowledged during the ceremony planning process. 

That’s why today we’re focusing solely on the wedding reception. What are some things you should make sure you pay attention to that often go unnoticed during the wedding ceremony planning? What does the timeline look like for planning a wedding reception? Continue reading to learn more about the process. 

Step One: Have The Numbers Sorted Out

Before getting into some of the creative details and fun aspects of wedding reception planning, we need to have the numbers sorted out. This includes the budget, number of guests, and the dates aligned. 


No matter the event, you’re always going to have a budget to work around. Understanding what yours is at the beginning of the planning process is essential because it will help you make decisions down the line. 

Number of Guests

While you may already have a guest list figured out for the ceremony, are you planning on inviting everyone to the reception afterward, too? Depending on the wedding, this number can vary. Having a general sense of the number of people attending your wedding reception will help you decide on your dream venue space and will help the catering and food and drink services understand how much of everything they’ll need. 

Wedding Reception Date

Another important detail that you should flush out early on in the planning process is your wedding reception date. This may or may not fall on the same date as your wedding. For instance, some couples choose to elope or have a small micro wedding ceremony while still wanting a larger reception to celebrate their love. In this instance, the wedding ceremony may fall on a different date from the wedding reception. 

Knowing the date of your wedding reception is a key piece of information when it comes to booking a venue. Having this date figured out early will help you get the venue you want as early as possible since they often book fast. 

Step Two: Creative Brainstorming

Now that you have some numeric boundaries to work within, you can begin your creative brainstorming. If you have some wedding reception ideas already playing out in your mind, now is the time to put pen to paper and bring your dreams to life. If you’re still figuring out exactly what you want for your wedding reception, that’s okay too! This process should help you uncover things you like and dislike for your big day. 

Create a Mood Board 

Time to hop onto Pinterest, pull out the wedding magazines, and get to work! Finding visual inspiration to work off of is an extremely helpful way to unearth your wedding reception aesthetic and style. Sometimes putting words to what you’re thinking in your head is challenging, especially if you don’t come from a design background. Finding visual inspiration to guide your journey is a useful in-between building block to get bring your ideas to life. 

Additionally, if you’re working with friends and family or a wedding planner to help create your wedding reception, a mood board is useful because you can share the visual aesthetic you’re after with the people working to help you create the wedding reception of your dreams. 

From the mood board, you’ll be able to find patterns or design features that really speak to you and jump out as something you’d really like to incorporate. Write these details down so that you don’t forget and so that you can work to have those details at your wedding reception. 

Choose a Theme

While having a theme isn’t necessary when planning a wedding reception, it can help alleviate some of the decision-making pressure. If you have a theme in mind, roll with it and see where it goes. For instance, if your wedding theme is the Roaring 20’s, a lot of the decisions surrounding decorations and even wedding attire is narrowed down for you. 

party setting

Step Three: Time to Pull It All Together

With your wedding reception details figured out, now it’s time to execute. While celebrating your wedding reception the day of is an unforgettable moment in your life, you don’t necessarily want the details of producing the big day to stand out in your mind as well. If you’ve figured out all the details of what you want for your wedding reception, you might want to consider hiring a wedding planner to execute this step for you. They’ll take everything you’re looking for and bring it to life, taking on the responsibility of booking everything for you. 

Book Your Venue

The wedding reception venue acts as a backdrop for your day, setting the scene’s vibe and aesthetic from the get-go. That’s why you don’t want to overlook this step. Finding the perfect venue for your wedding reception feels right, and you’ll know it when you find it. 

If you’re looking for wedding reception venues in San Diego County, look no further than The Centre Escondido. Surrounded by Escondido’s valley and mountainscape, our wedding venues offer a stunning backdrop for any wedding celebration. With indoor and outdoor venue spaces for large and small gatherings, we are ready to roll out the red carpet and create the perfect ambiance for your wedding reception. 

Order Decorations

Using your mood board and the help of family, friends, and your wedding planner, pull a list of wedding decorations and order them ASAP. The right decorations will elevate your reception’s style and will help you pull off the aesthetic you’re after. 

Book Catering and Cake

After throwing down on the dance floor, your guests are sure to work up an appetite. Serve them some of your favorite food catered by the best of the best. If you’re hosting your reception here at The Centre, our in-house, award-winning restaurant, Vintana, can help you wine and dine guests.

You’ll also want to find and book your wedding cake. This is a fun step in the process because you’ll get to taste delicious cake options and choose the right one for your celebration. 


If you’re looking for a live band to play or want to hire a DJ or any other form of entertainment, don’t forget to book them out as early as possible to ensure they’ll be able to make it. Knowing the energy you are after, as well as having a wedding reception theme should help you narrow down the type of entertainment for you. 

Send Out the Invitations

Invitations for wedding receptions are typically included in the wedding ceremony invites. However, we chose to include this step just in case you forget. 

With the steps laid out on how to start planning a wedding reception, it’s time to get going on it. Whether you have wedding reception planning questions or are interested in our beautiful event venues, reach out to us. Our event coordinators have years of experience planning and executing wedding ceremonies and receptions. We’re more than happy to help you create the wedding celebration of your dreams.