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5 Simple Mistakes To Avoid When Planning Your Wedding Reception

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Properly planning your wedding reception will either make or break your special day. You will pour countless hours into planning, organizing, and setting up for your wedding day and there are five simple mistakes you should definitely avoid.

As a wedding DJ, I have personally attended and helped plan hundreds of weddings over the years. The details can be overwhelming and stressful. I absolutely suggest hiring a wedding coordinator (if within your budget), if not, then there are some great wedding planning sites online and also some great wedding planning books such as, The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings

That being said, of the hundreds of weddings that my DJ company, Top Entertainment DJ, has been a part of throughout Western, NY… here are 5 of some of the biggest and most easily avoidable mistakes couples often make and usually never even see coming.

The first mistake often made is not having someone in charge of organizing and lining the wedding party up for the ceremony. While this is not technically part of the reception, most weddings today are opting out of the traditional church ceremonies of the past and are having a contemporary style ceremony at the same site as their reception space. The rehearsal dinner is a great time to plan the line up and practice the timing but the day of is often chaotic and full of nerves (and alcohol, lol)… so it is very important to have one person (who also attends the rehearsal dinner) to oversee the wedding party and make sure everyone gets down the aisle in an organized manner. Many wedding venues will have a coordinator or day of site manager that will do this for you. It is important to find out if your venue does and to make sure that person will also be there for the rehearsal. If not, then make sure you avoid the chaos by appointing someone to take care of this small but important task. Trust me, don’t depend on your wedding party to do this on their own.

The second mistake I often see are two specific catering issues: Not enough buffet lines or tables servers based on the number of guests in attendance. Now you might be asking… isn’t that the caterers responsibility? The short answer is yes… but the longer answer is you still need to communicate with your caterer to ensure they are on top of this. If you are having a buffet, you should have one line per 100 guests… if over 100 guests then two lines, if over 200 guests then three and so on. If the dinner is table service style, then ensure they have enough staff to expedite the service in a quick manor. Typically, this requires about 4 servers per 50 people. This will ensure your guests get dinner service in a reasonable amount of time. Most venues and caterers will do this, but it is still good to touch base to ensure proper service for your guests. You do not want your guests waiting over an hour to be served… this will completely throw off your timing and reception vibe.

Another mistake is improper placement of the dancefloor and DJ. This is a biggie as it will often mean the difference between a fun engaging wedding with guests dancing or a wedding where people sit around and eventually leave early. In a perfect scenario, the dancefloor should be centrally located with the guest’s tables flanking each side, the head table/sweat heart table on one side and the DJ next to the dancefloor on the opposite side of the head/sweat heart table. Below I have attached a PDF with this layout for you to download. This will allow the DJ to address and engage your guests throughout the evening and also creates an environment where your guests are much more likely to dance. Placing the dancefloor or DJ in a separate room is a sure way to kill the reception energy.

Timing is everything and when planning a wedding, often people think allowing extra time for things such as pictures, announcements, and dinner is a safe bet, but in actuality, that will create downtime, boredom and frustration for your guests. What you actually want to do is create a tight timeline so things run fluid and in a timely manner. You can always postpone something for a few minutes if you are running late… it is very hard to speed things up. For example, an average wedding will allot 45 minutes to an hour for cocktails (wedding party picture time), 15 minutes for introductions/first dances and an hour for dinner. Making these longer can lead to dead spaces and bored guests. In short, plan tight and adjust longer if needed. As a DJ, I work personally with all of my couples to put together a minute-by-minute timeline from the start of the ceremony to the end of the reception. One of my main responsibilities is to ensure the evening runs smoothly and my couple does not have to worry about what is happening next.

The last mistake I often see is having a grand exit at the end of the evening. While that might seem like it makes sense… I mean, it is called the grand exit…but in actuality, that is a mistake. Two reasons: First, your photographer will most likely not stay to the end of the evening…. Second, half of your guests will not stay that late also. I always recommend about an hour into dancing is a good time to line your guests up outside and do the grand exit for the couple. To get your guests back into the venue space, have a group picture or the shoe game on the dance floor so your guests reengage. Then your DJ can drop a banger and get everyone back out on the dancefloor and party the rest of the evening.

By being aware of the 5 mistakes above, your wedding will be a much more memorable event for you and your guests for years to come and you will save yourself a ton of frustration and stress.

Ideal Floor Plan for DJ and Head Table Set Up
Download PDF • 150KB

-Marshall Green, Owner

Top Entertainment DJ

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