Category Archives: planning wedding day

wedding dance floor with DJ after planning a Chicago wedding

Wedding Reception Schedule and Planning Tips (For a Night of Fun!)

Couples planning a wedding reception, beware: the one commonality among every wedding reception schedule is that they are all different. However, there is a general outline (and a few tips) that can make planning a wedding reception easier—and a lot more fun!

Typical Wedding Reception Schedule

Cocktail Hour



Cake Cutting

Wedding Dances (Wedding Party Announcement, First Dance, Mother-Son Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Etc.)

Last Dance

Wedding Reception Planning Tips

  • Choose wedding vendors that coordinate services for a seamless wedding dance (like a DJ that coordinates the schedule with a photographer so you can make sure you get shots of your first dance).
  • Be careful about hiring vendors that a friend of a friend recommends. Always research and look for red flags so you hire the best vendors.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask venue staff and vendors for suggestions; they may have ideas you haven’t considered yet.
  • Plan a lay out that keeps guests circulating and entertained (i.e. such as a photo booth near the dance floor or wedding games in a strategic location that guests can find and enjoy).
  • Hire a wedding entertainer that can serve as emcee and make announcements. Your guests’ll appreciate it.
  • Make sure there is a beverage station near the dance floor so guests stay hydrated…and can keep having fun!
  • Give guests who aren’t dancers other ways to entertain themselves at the reception.
  • Use a wedding budget checklist to ensure that your funds are being allocated for really important items that guests enjoy (i.e. food, dance music, etc.)
  • Add a surprise to the wedding reception schedule for an awesome and memorable moment guests can talk about long after your wedding is done.
  • Make your first wedding dance different from the norm with these dance ideas.
  • Don’t skimp on wedding entertainment; while it might be tempting to hire the cheapest, the entertainment can make the evening or send guests to the door.
  • Tell your wedding dance entertainer songs you want played—and don’t want played—at your dance. Be careful about hiring entertainers that don’t ask; this night is all about you!

Wedding Planning 101: Where to Start Planning Your Big Day

young couple buying wedding ring at jewelry store ready to start wedding planningCongratulations on your wedding engagement!  Once the excitement wears off from receiving the engagement ring (or if you’ve started wedding planning in anticipation of a wedding proposal), it’s time to tackle the wedding planning process.  It’s normal to not know where to start; we’ve met many wedding couples trying to figure their way through the planning process.  That’s why we’ve put together these tips for planning your big day (well).

Talk BEFORE you start planning.

Start your wedding planning with clear expectations so you don’t have to detour through the process.  You don’t want to find out your fiance wanted mixed drinks after you’ve put a down payment on a bar that doesn’t include their request.  Or have to back track when your parents make a request about the guest list after you’ve booked a cozy venue.

Sit down with your fiance and any important members of your family or friends to find out their expectations so you can initiate your planning with all the important “stuff” out in the open.  You may find out the one thing your fiance has always wanted, or a request from your in-laws you didn’t know before the conversation.  Ask them questions about their vision for the day (if you want it) and any financial input they may want to gift you for your wedding budget.

Set a budget & date

This is your big day, so try to picture what you want it to look like.  Use that vision and the input you’ve received your fiance, family, and friends to start confirming the details of your special day.  Start with your budget and wedding date.

You can either set the wedding date in stone or use open dates from your favorite wedding venue or vendor to come up with the perfect wedding date.  For example, if you have a wedding venue or DJ you really want, and you know you want a fall wedding date, contact them and ask what dates are available.  Choose the date that works for you, and start looking and designing wedding invites.

Contact ‘must have’ wedding vendors

The sooner you book your wedding details, the more likely you are to get the wedding vendors you want (and that are really, really good!)  Don’t procrastinate.  Book your venue as soon as possible, and your DJ at least 14-18 months in advance.  To keep track of it all, use this wedding planning checklist for reference.  You’ll be glad you have it on hand when you’re enjoying the wedding day of your dreams.