20 Wedding Reception Questions You Really Need to Ask

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20 Wedding Reception Questions You Really Need to Ask

20 Wedding Reception Questions You Really Need to AskWedding Planning Doesn’t Have to be a Drag

The wedding reception may be quite complex – or very simple – and anything in between, depending on the manner in which it is planned, the number of guests, the food service, the entertainment, the location’s availability. Let’s discuss each aspect. These 20 wedding reception questions you really need to ask will get you on the road to the perfect wedding reception for you and your husband-to-be.

Wedding Planner, Bridal Consultant or Event Specialist

If you are working with a wedding planner, bridal consultant or event specialist, they will be able to take care of much of the preliminary questions – or will know the answers from previous experience.

However, if you are flying solo on this, ask the questions yourself.

Ask the facilities manager to appoint one person to work with you as things progress, up to and during the reception itself. She may choose to act as the liaison herself!

Wedding Planner Books to Help You Stay Organized

 The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner Binder The Wedding Planner & Organizer The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner The Bride’s Essential Wedding Planner My Wedding Organizer

Wedding Reception Layout and Amenities

applies mostly to indoor receptions

View the hall or reception area as early in the planning process as possible – as soon as you have a sense of how many are expected to attend – meeting with the facilities director to relay your needs and hear what their capabilities are.

  • Take a pad of graph paper with you, and sketch room layouts as you take a tour of the room. Use sticky notes or pencil to show where various room sections will be.
  • Ask for layout charts from the facilities director or person taking you on your tour.
  • If possible, visit the hall while a wedding reception or similar event is being held, to see how the room ‘flows.’ Does traffic move smoothly through the room, from buffet to seating or from kitchen to seating if a served event?
  • Is the head table positioned so that the couple can see guests without straining around floral arrangements?
  • Is the head table positioned in the room so that incoming sunlight will not appear behind and fade out the people sitting at it?
  • If the room has southern or western exposure, are there curtains, drapes, shades or screens that can be easily closed?
  • Can you find and adjust the thermostat, either alone or with an easily-located staff member?
  • Look for bottlenecks in each section – if these bottlenecks cannot be resolved, this may not be the right location for your reception.
  • How many hours do you have access to the hall – before the reception and afterward?
  • What time do you have to vacate the premises?
  • Will the hall allow next-day access for retrieving personal items?
  • Who is responsible for cleanup and cleaning?

Wedding Guest Seating and Service

  • Square tables? Round tables? Small tables around a dance floor? A horsehoe shape with a head (top) table?
  • Ask the facilities manager if she has recommended layouts that have proven to work well for seating for the number of guests you expect – and ask to see those layouts or to get help in sketching them out.
  • Ask for a list of items you need to provide – buy or rent – and a list of items and services the reception facility will provide.
  • Does the facility provide tables and linens?
  • Do you (or your caterer) need to bring any special glassware or service ware?
  • How far in advance can you (or your caterer) access the facilities to get everything set up?

Sample Seating Chart

 Tartan and Scottish Thistle Wedding Seating Chart Poster

The Guest Book and Gift Tables

A place near the entry should be provided for people to sign your guest book, and a space needs to be available for dropping off gifts. Neither of these sections should impede incoming guests, but both should be visible from the entrance.

One person can attend both positions if they are close to each other, receiving gifts, asking for signatures, and directing guests to the receiving line.

A pedestal is a great touch for the guestbook, reducing the need for guests to bend to sign (important if you have elderly guests and relatives). Ask if one is available from the hall.

Wedding Guest Books

 Vintage Lace Guest Book Linked Hearts Wedding Guest Book Guest Book Wedding Accessories, Birch Trees Guest Book with Pen Gold Script

The Wedding Favors

choose from themed, traditional, highly personalized, much more

Wedding favors can be placed next to each place setting at a sit-down service, acting as place markers in a seating plan, gathered in baskets and handed out personally, or placed at the receiving line and given out by the flower girl.

The Receiving Line

receiving without creating a conga line

  • Is there a place where six to eight people can stand in a row and receive guests, even if one is still wearing a long white crinoline petticoated wedding dress?
  • Is there adequate space in the hallway to keep people from stacking up while waiting to enter the room?
  • Have guests passed the coat room, gift table and guest book by the time they reach the bride and groom?

Wedding Cake Source: Wikimedia commons, CC, tracyhunterWedding Cake Service Table

The cake service table must be large enough to accommodate the cake, the serving utensils, plates, napkins, forks – arrayed or stacked. Flower arrangements may rest on the table itself or on pedestals to one side. If you choose to use garlands on the head table, you may wish to mirror those garlands on the cake table.

Ask if arrangements need to be made for a cart or additional wait staff, if you wish to have the cake brought out into the reception hall only when it is time for the cake ceremony.


  • Is there a stage? If so, how many musicians can it hold comfortably?
  • How far in advance can your band or music service access the hall for setup and sound checks?
  • Does the facility provide a sound system? If so, does it allow for other equipment to be connected to its sound system? Are wireless microphones available?
  • Is there a separate dance floor?

The Kitchen and Food Service

do not skip this even if you have a caterer

Whether the reception hall is preparing food for your wedding party, you have a caterer coming in to serve, or it’s potluck – the kitchen must be pristine. Ask the facilities manager for an in-depth tour of kitchen and food storage sections. If she’s confident in her service, she will not hesitate. If she demurs or refuses, find another reception location.

  • Go look around in the kitchen – not just look in and walk away.
  • Take a slip of tissues with you, or wear gloves, and touch surfaces – counters, stovetops, walls, doorways.
  • If you sense that the kitchen is not clean, walk away.
  • If you see any entity aside from kitchen staff – mouse pellets, ant trails, spiderwebs, roaches – don’t walk away, RUN.

Wedding Buffet Line or Server Section

  • If you will be using a buffet line, is there a sufficient space for wait staff to work behind the tables, serving and replacing chafing dishes as needed?
  • How far is the buffet line from the kitchen?
  • Does the facility provide wait staff for buffet services, table service and beverage service?
  • If food service is to be performed outdoors, what canopies, covers, gazebo tops, food coverings are available?

The Bar Area

Is a separate section provided for open bar service?

Does the facility provide:

  • circulating server staff
  • bar service
  • basic spirits and mixers
  • ice and storage
  • glassware
  • paper and linens
  • bus and cleaning

(Some reception areas, like church halls, may not accommodate such needs – find out in advance if the hall will allow the serving of liquor or is licensed to provide the service.)

Restrooms, Changing, Coat Check

  • Where are the restrooms from the reception hall? Close by, or several hallways away?
  • Is there a separate lockable room where the bride and groom can change into their reception outfits?
  • Does the facility offer coat check services? If so, what additional costs are involved?

Wedding Parking and Security

  • Does the facility offer valet parking? If so, what is the cost per vehicle? How many vehicles are they able to handle?
  • Where is self-parking from the reception hall?
  • Are the parking lots lit at night and patrolled?
  • Does the reception hall have its own security staff?
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