Planning your reception layout

You’ll be spending the evening surrounded by family and friends in your first few hours as newlyweds - and crafting the perfect space to celebrate in can completely change how the experience goes! We spoke with two talented women, to find out how to create the perfect reception experience. A massive thank you goes to Summer from The Vintage Party, and Charlotte from Handmaid, for taking the time to answer our questions!


What will your table layout and seating plan be, with the available space? Both our experts recommend starting your planning here. Charlotte says, “consider the room overall and whether it all works together in function and in the look desired.  There may be a guestbook table, space for gifts and extra florals for decor around the room to think about.”  Also, think about whether you’d prefer to sit at a head table with your bridal party, or amongst your guests instead.

There are so many bits and pieces to think about when considering your room layout, so we’ve added a checklist below to make sure you tick all the boxes!

  • Sound system and microphone placement - can everyone hear?

  • Band/DJ setup - what does the band or DJ need access to?

  • Dancefloor - will tables need to be moved?

  • Gift table - will you be setting up a spot for gifts and cards?

  • Food - this will change depending on how your food is being served. Will you have table service or a buffet? What about dessert?

  • Cake - where will the cake sit, so it’s on display and in a good spot for photos when it comes time to cut the cake?

  • The bar - where will be the best place for people to top up their drinks, or grab a glass of water?

  • The bathrooms - how many bathrooms are there? This becomes especially important in outdoor weddings with portable toilets. Charlotte recommends having some finishing touches in the bathrooms to tie together the styling throughout, as they’re a regularly used space!

  • Anything extra? - remember there are no rules! Think about any unique additions, and where they might go. Summer says, “I also predict couples will be more likely to plan a wedding that reflects their own style and personality - rather than doing things just because that's what's traditionally expected. Anything that adds a unique touch like a gin bar, ice-cream cart or hand-crafted favours gets the thumbs up!”



Next up, we’re looking at tablescapes - this includes place settings like napkins, glassware, plates, as well as centrepieces and floral arrangements. A few key elements to consider will be:

  • Plates and cutlery

  • Glassware

  • Napkins

  • Names

  • Favours

  • Centrepieces

  • Floral arrangements

The colour palette in your settings and floral arrangements is completely up to you, and your ideas could change depending on the venue or space, and the other elements of your day.

Summer’s current favourite? “I resonate most with earthy & subdued colour palettes like cream, caramel,  mustard, timber, blush, terracotta, etc with pops of forest green or russet for contrast.”

For Charlotte, she loves being inspired by nature - “I've just been working with earthy terracotta, creams and pinks with pops of turquoise which was lovely to play with.”

table setting.jpg


Talk to the venue about the lighting within the reception space - what do they have available, and do they have any restrictions on candles?

Summer: “For me, lighting should be soft and flattering - always! Nothing beats candlelight for dining.”

Charlotte: “Kiwis don't like to dance in bright light!  If you want more people up and dancing at the end of the evening, have someone shut down or dim some lights!

The two agree that gorgeous, warm festoons and fairy lights are perfect when it comes to creating that dreamy, romantic feel.


Feeling overwhelmed? Charlotte sums it up perfectly: “If this all sounds too much, talk to a stylist to help you!”.

Another huge thank you to Charlotte and Summer for their expert advice.

Deanna Walker