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Party Planning Check List
(Wedding Reception Planner) 

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Aunt Bunny is making the punch, I remembered to order the cake,
But did I remember to bring the plates and get a bartender?

See an actual Reception Hall set up - Photos Wedding for 125

Done Check List Item  Tips & Notes
  Reception Budget  
  Hall Rental If you are doing your own catering, try to choose the hall with the best kitchen facilities. Church kitchens are often very well equipped. Your City, may have inexpensive halls for rent.
  Food Plan easy familiar foods, save the fancy or expensive foods for another time. Fit the meal to the time of year and to the fridge and oven space available in your kitchen.
  Decor Choose your color theme and then look for inexpensive things that fit in. Real or artificial flowers, mini lights, tea lights etc. Christmas time is a good time to stock up on fancy decorations and lights. Grow petunias in your colors!
  Entertainment Dancing and live music or a DJ, is optional, depending on you budget. Background music is a nice touch.
  Reception Hall
  Date If you choose a 'holiday weekend' bookings maybe more expensive.  Choose a Sunday or a weekday for less expensive rates.  Spring and Summer dates are usually booked well in advance.  If Saturdays are all booked up, try a Sunday.
  Allowed Access times Do you have access the day before, do you have to clean up the same night, check it out.
  Kitchen Appliances & Equipment More than one fridge and stove is ideal.
  Plates or Cutlery Some Church Halls will have these included. You can use good quality disposables, or rent real china and cutlery.  It's a hassle to return the rental ones, and you will be charged for missing items or breakage.
  Counter space available If you need to plate lots of things, you will need lots of counter space.
  Additional equipment needed Make a list of all possible equipment and gadgets you will need to bring from home, including serving spoons, oven mitts, paper towels and dish cloths. 
  set up crew Volunteers to set up tables and chairs and decorate.
  clean up crew Volunteers to get out all food and rental equipment etc. before deadline.
  Tables: guests, head, buffet/food, dessert, bar, gifts, guest book, Decide on how many tables or stations will be needed and how to decorate easily.  Does the hall provide enough tables?
  Chairs, Tables, etc. included Are these included with the hall or will you need to rent them?
  Coat rack Is this provided or will you need to rent?
  craft projects to be made Make ahead things that can be quickly set out as decorations, no last minute fussing, you won't have time.
  general decorations Easy to set up out decorations, make a plan on paper for the helpers showing where everything is to be placed.
  crafty volunteers Volunteers for the decorating team should really enjoy crafts and decorating, they will love doing the job.
  guest table decorations Make ahead, ready to go,  or order flower arrangements.
  table linens or coverings If the hall rental doesn't include table coverings, arrange for linen rentals from a party supply place or purchase banquet table coverings in paper.  You may want paper for the quests and rental linens for the head table and buffet tables. Both are available in various colors.
  candles, lights, confetti, These things make your reception extra pretty.  Place a mirror tile under a candle or floral arrangement for added sparkle. 
  Flowers or center pieces Either make with artificial or dried flowers or have a volunteer make simple arrangements with real flowers.  Or arrange for a florist wedding package to be delivered.  
The Bridal Bouquet and Bridesmaids bouquets can double as decorations on the head table.
  Favors, bubbles, cameras etc. Purchase if you wish too, not necessary. Candy in a bit of tulle is an easy favor.
  Misc. to purchase 
  Glassware for head table You may want to bring special glass ware for the head table.
  Knife to cut wedding cake It doesn't have to be really fancy, just presentable. 
  Table layout: guests, head, buffet/food, dessert, bar, gifts, guest book, Draw up a floor plan and decide on traffic flow.  Don't have the buffet table in the opposite corner from the kitchen if possible.  The quests should be able to see the head table easily.
  Menu Plan a menu keeping it simple and suitable to the time of the year.  If it's hot, don't serve things that will melt easily like cheesecakes, are topped with whipping cream or things that would  need to be kept on ice. Have some low fat/low sugar or other dietary considerations for your older quests.  Have more than enough food, rather than not enough.
  Food needed to purchase Figure out exactly what each dish on the menu will need for groceries to prepare. Search ahead finding the best suppliers and prices.  Create a shopping list that will be ready to use.
  Any Catered foods delivered/picked up If you are having something cooked by a caterer or deli, arrange for someone to pick it up or to have it delivered on time.
  Food Transportation Have a volunteer ready to take your homemade food to the hall, getting it there as quickly as possible so it will stay either hot or cold.
  storage space for food, arrangements If you are going to need lots of fridge space, start asking relatives and neighbors to borrow space. You will need it 2-3 days ahead of time.
  extra picnic coolers for food Stock up ahead of time or borrow.
  preparation timetable for food Calculate out exactly how much prep time, cooking time and cooling time each dish will take.  Also know how much reheating time will be needed.  Make a schedule for the 'day before' and the 'day of'. Be aware of safe food handling.
  volunteer help,  Get people who love cooking or have had catering experience to help out.  You won't be able to attend to the details.
  hired help Hire one or more people to deal with the serving the food and cleanup of the actual event.  That way even YOU and your  volunteers can enjoy your wedding.
  buffet table food placement decide how you want your food to be arranged on the table.  Salad first, meat or hot dishes last.
  cutlery, napkins x 3 , plates x 1 1/3,  Provide lots of napkins and a few extra plates.  Cutlery can be wrapped in a napkin and placed in a basket on the buffet for guests to pick up in line.  This also eliminates the need to 'set the tables'.
  serving dishes, chaffers, baskets, platters, salad bowls, punch bowls You can purchase plastic platters, deli style, use your own dishes, or rent big salad bowls, and chaffing dishes, punch bowls reasonably.  It's nice to have matching serving dishes for an elegant looking buffet.
  salt, pepper, butter,  don't forget these, pickles too.
  garnishes These make the food extra attractive.  Cherry tomatoes, parsley, kale, carrot curls, just tuck them onto salads or in or around and under food on  platters.
  jugs for water provide for the thirsty and elderly.  Water jugs can be rented too, although your rental kitchen may have a supply.
  time plan for preparing/serving food at reception Work out a realistic time plan for the last minute prep and serving of food.  Letting the kitchen help know when the meal must be ready, served and finished.
  buffet table map where food is to be placed Have the table set up ahead of time with a diagram for the kitchen help showing the placement of each food item.
  buffet table layout and decor presentation You may require several tables with raised sections, center pieces, extra table cloths, table skirting, work this out well ahead of time.
  coffee, tea, cream, sugar, sweet'n low, stir sticks,  Get all the coffee supplies including artificial sweetener, cream and milk. 
  coffee urn, coffee cups x 2 Allow one cup or more per guest and provide extra cups and napkins, they are inexpensive.
  Wedding cake Don't forget to make or order one of these. You can even rent a 'fake' cake and then have another cake in the kitchen that is cut and served to the guests.
  Tables: Guest, head, food, gift, dessert, wedding cake, punch, coffee, Decide on how many tables you will need.  How many special tables, and just how fancy you want things.
  Equipment Rentals  
  Serving bowls, chaffers,  Visit a local party supply place or two and see what is available and decide if you will need to rent anything.  Delivery and pick up may be extra.  Do you have to wash dishes before returning them?  Rent a couple of extra salad bowls for quick refills and extra chaffing dish inserts for the same reason.
  linens,  purchase paper, plastic, or rent table linens, or any combination of.
  Wedding Arches, Tents, Floral displays, center pieces. Many unexpected things can be rented if needed.  Sometimes if cheaper to rent than make a 'one time use' purchase.
  Bar & Beverages  
  License or Permit check  your local regulations.
  Bartender You can hire a bartender who will do the entire thing, or you can supply the drinks and just hire a bartender to serve.  If you keep it really simple, just beer,  wine and pop, you may only need a volunteer or two, to help.
  glasses x 5 , napkins x 3,  Plastic glasses and wine glasses, or rental glasses, but you will need lots, also extra napkins.
  wedding wine & non alcoholic wine for toasting You can make your own wine, just plan well enough ahead.  Sparkling juices in wine bottles are fun for the children and non drinkers.  
  liquor, beer, punch, Alcohol or not, it's your choice.  Your local liquor supplier could help with the amounts and let you know if you can return unopened bottles or cases.  Punch is optional, but is nice before the meal.  Remember Punch takes up fridge space.
  ice You will need lots(1/2 lb. per person)and picnic coolers to store it in.
  mixers, juices, water, corkscrew. Punch bowls, bottle dispensers can be rented.  Don't forget all the other things you will need for a bar.  
  DJ or Music, speeches Book music well ahead of time, choosing  the songs you want for the important dances.  Ask certain people if they will give speeches.  
You may only want background music.  Keep the music quiet enough so people can still talk and visit, wedding are extra special times for visiting.
  Garbage Cans/ decorated Get a pretty one or decorate it with a pretty bow.  Great for paper plates and disposable glasses.
  Rental Equipment arranged Arrange for the rental items you will need.
  Delivery/return of rental equipment Know deadline for returns of rental items, you don't want it to cost you double.
  Clean up crew Arrange for you clean up volunteers.
  Time frame for entire reception Plan a time sequence for the entire reception.  Don't leave a long space between the ceremony and the start of the reception, keep the photo session brief.
  Gifts Put someone in charge of the gifts, making sure they are secure and transported safely.
  Perfection Don't get hung up on the 'perfect wedding'  it will be wonderful no matter what and if some of the tiny details get overlooked, you will be the only one that notices, if you have time to notice!  

It's only a few hours out of a wonderful lifetime.  Don't sweat the small stuff. 

If things are getting too complicated or something will take too much time, be flexible enough to eliminate the thing causing the problem (unless it's your Mother or  future Mother-in-law)!!

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