An Insider's Guide to Wedding & Reception Planning

With so much to consider when planning a wedding, there’s an entire industry built around making brides’ lives easier. And since experienced wedding planners build their knowledge and skills over the course of decades, they’re understandably reluctant to give away their services. Lucky for you, though, we’ve got some super helpful wedding and reception planning tips you may never have considered—straight from a real-life wedding planner.


Thanksgiving Point has a variety of indoor and outdoor venues making it easier than ever to find the right one for your big day.

Get Everybody on the Same Page

Between the bride, the groom, and both sets of parents, there may be a wide range of opinions as to what the ideal wedding day looks like. The bride’s parents might have a grand occasion in mind with hundreds of guests. The groom’s parents might prefer a more intimate setting with just close friends and immediate family. And the bride and groom may have their own ideas that look nothing like their parents’. Depending on who’s footing the bill, you may feel obligated to consider outside input from one or more of these parties. Whatever you end up doing, it’s important to hash out the details before you start seriously looking at venues. Get all the decision-makers in a room and arrive at a consensus on important topics like indoor vs. outdoor, approximately how many guests will be invited, and other big-picture stuff.


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Organize Your Guest List

When whittling down your guest list, it can be helpful to break down your invitees to get a better idea of how many people you’ll likely have in attendance. As you’re jotting down names, put people into one of three categories: the As are immediate family and very close friends—the people where you’d be devastated if they couldn’t make it to your wedding. Nearly all the As are very likely to attend. The next category are Bs—think co-workers, extended family, and in-town friends you’re close with, but not necessarily besties. Expect to get around 50% attendance out of your B invites—less for a larger guest list, more for a smaller one. Finally, the Cs are casual acquaintances and coworkers, people who live out of town, or others that you’d love to see there, but realistically you don’t expect them to attend. Wedding invites to Cs tend to function more as an announcement, since few are likely to show up.


Sometimes, the venue its self should be flexible too. Learn how to pull off the perfect outdoor wedding.

If you Can, Be Flexible

Rather than setting your date at the beginning of the planning process, giving yourself a little bit of leeway will give you a lot more options to find a venue you’re really in love with—and can also be a great way to save cash. If you pick a date before you pick a venue, you’re limiting yourself to what places are still available on that specific date. Picking a month (or even a season) will give you far more options for venues, meaning you’ll be able to find the perfect place to host the wedding or reception you’ve always wanted. And since weekends are the most popular times for wedding venues, if most of your guests are local, you may be able to get a great deal on a venue you love for a weeknight wedding or reception.


If budgeting isn’t your strong suit you may want to investigate all-inclusive venues and packages.

Ask Tons of Questions, Then Ask More

Is there adequate parking for your guests, or will they have to find their own and walk multiple city blocks? Is A/V equipment included? What hours will you have access to the venue beforehand, so you can decorate or do a rehearsal? Will somebody be there on-site in case the air conditioner stops working or the DJ trips a fuse? Before you put down a deposit, make sure you ask tons of questions about exactly what you’re getting from a particular venue. And to prevent surprises when it’s time to settle up, consider asking for a mock bill ahead of time—including catering charges, service fees, taxes, and all other expenses. If the venue is less than transparent about their pricing, you might have reason to be wary.


We hope you find these tips helpful—but they barely scratch the surface of the knowledge, experience, and service you’ll get from the in-house wedding planners at Thanksgiving Point. Contact us today to start planning the wedding or reception you’ve always imagined and an event coordinator will be in touch with you.  

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