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Receiving Line
The Meal and Caterer Check List
How Much? How Many?
Seating The Guests
After the emotions of the wedding ceremony, it's time to kick it up a notch and celebrate.

Get Organized
The first step to planning a successful and stress-free wedding reception is to write out a schedule of events in advance. To help you get started, we’ve outlined some of the more common wedding reception traditions. While you may or may not choose to include them all, they’ll help you decide how to begin personalizing your wedding.

The Receiving Line
The receiving line (unless you already had one after your ceremony), allows the bride and groom a chance to greet all of their guests - an opportunity they might not otherwise have during a large wedding reception.

The line is usually formed with the mother of the bride first, then the father, followed by the groom's mother and father, the new Mr. and Mrs., and then the maid or matron of honor and bridesmaids (the attendants are often left off in order to speed this process up a bit). If divorced parents choose not stand together in the receiving line, than the other set of parents may stand between them.

Avoid making the receiving line a time-consuming process by exchanging brief but warm wishes with everyone as they pass by. And to help pass the time for guests waiting for their warm wishes, ask your caterer to have his or her servers circulate with drinks and hors d'oeuvres for them.

Now Introducing for the First Time Ever?
After you’ve said your hellos with the receiving line and the cocktail hour is finished, it will be time for guests to be seated. After all the guests have found their seats (make sure your guests names are properly displayed on the place cards), a master of ceremonies (often the band leader or DJ) should introduce the bridal party. Be sure to give the person making this announcement a list of the names in the order you want them read, as well as the phonetic pronunciation (it would also be a good idea to go over the pronunciations in person).

The bride's parents should be the first to enter, followed by the groom's parents, flower girl and ring bearer, bridesmaids and groomsmen, best man and maid of honor, then finally the bride and groom.

The first dance often takes place either right after the wedding party has been announced or after the meal is completed. This dance traditionally belongs to the bride and groom, with all wedding guests gathering around to watch. Toward the end of the song, the master of ceremonies or announcer should instruct the rest of the bridal party to join in with their respective partners. The guests may also be asked to join in at the end of the first dance.

At some time during the course of the wedding celebration (but always after the first dance as husband and wife), the bride traditionally has a farewell dance with her father, followed by the groom and her mother. In both cases, a nostalgic, sentimental song is often chosen. If your father will not be there or is deceased, you may choose another important male to share in this special dance with you (a brother, uncle or grandfather). If you are not close to your father and feel more comfortable with your stepfather, you may share the dance with him. The same options apply for your new husband as well. And be sure that both of you dance with your new in-laws and spouse's honor attendants.

A Toast to the Bride and Groom
Wedding toasts and speeches can add a memorably personal note, but they can also bring the party to a halt if they are ill-timed or too long. As part of your wedding planning, decide on the order of speeches, and encourage the speakers to keep it brief (but heartfelt).

Just before the main meal is served, or immediately after, the best man should be introduced and ask everyone to stand. You and your groom should remain seated. His wedding toast may be brief and sentimental ('Let’s raise our glasses to the happiness of Jane and Mark') or it can be more detailed and personal, often amusing and anecdotal. If you’re worried about what the best man going to say (or even more so if he is worried) you may want to recommend he uses a custom wedding toast service. Based on questions he answers personally, their toast writers will custom write a speech that is sure to impress and leave a lasting and memorable impression on everyone (and let’s not forget about the fact that it will be captured on your wedding video for all of eternity, so it better be good!). Whatever the case, it should reflect best wishes for the two of you and your future. The best man then raises his glass and invites the other guests to do the same in a well-wishing toast. The bride and groom may then get up and say a few words of thanks and toast each other.

It is also customary at religious weddings to have the officiant say a blessing before everyone begins eating. Be sure to let your officiant know ahead of time if you would like to include this, so that he or she is prepared. 

Time to Eat
The only two requirements for a wedding reception are cake and champagne, so depending on the time of day, your menu may consist of anything from a light breakfast to an elaborate dinner. An early-morning wedding calls for a breakfast or brunch; afternoon ceremonies may be accompanied by hors d'oeuvres or a light meal. Evening weddings generally call for a full dinner (sit down or buffet style). If your reception begins at 8 pm or later, you may choose to offer only cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Your caterer or banquet manager can help you select an appropriate menu as part of your wedding planning.

When most people hear the words 'wedding reception' they think of a full meal. If this is not the case for your wedding, use the wording 'cake and champagne' or 'cocktails and hors d'oeuvres' in place of “wedding reception” on your wedding invitations so that your guests will know what to expect.

Have your Cake and Eat it Too
Avoid planning the cake-cutting too late, since guests are not supposed to leave before it and you don’t want anyone to miss it! Even if you want the dancing to continue for hours afterwards, serve the cake at a reasonable hour to release any wedding guests who want to leave earlier.

While the tradition of breaking the cake over the bride’s head dates back to the Roman Era, today’s tradition is much gentler and simply involves the bride and groom cutting the cake together. This task represents the first task they will complete together as well as provide a great photo op.

When you are ready, the master of ceremonies should announce that the cake cutting is taking place and direct guests’ attention to the location.

When cutting the cake, elegant silver plated cake knives and servers add a personal touch as well as provide a keepsake, when engraved with your names and wedding date, which you will cherish for years to come. To cut the cake, the bride should place her hand on the cake knife while the groom places his hand over hers. The first slice is placed on a plate and the groom feeds his bride a small piece (you may want to agree upon this ahead of time so there are no surprises if he decides to smother you with a not-so-small piece), then receives a bite from her. The remainder of the wedding cake is then cut by the waiters and distributed to guests. It's customary to save the top tier of the wedding cake in a cake box, which is frozen and then enjoyed on your first anniversary.

Many couples also order an optional groom's cake. This is traditionally a darker color than the bride's cake, and is often made from chocolate (though really, any flavor and color you choose is acceptable). Often the groom's cake is displayed during the reception, then sliced and given to guests as take-home favors.

Tossing the Bouquet and Garter
Toward the end of the reception, have the master of ceremonies ask all eligible ladies to gather in the middle of the floor for the bouquet toss - the lucky recipient of which is said to be the next woman to marry. The bride should turn her back to the crowd and lightly toss the bouquet over her head to the female guests and bridesmaids. (Or you may want to face everyone and take aim for a particular friend or relative!) Another way to throw the bouquet is to toss it out the window of your car or limousine to the waiting crowd as you leave for your honeymoon (or first night accommodations). Many brides now have two bouquets - one being a smaller, less expensive version called a tossing bouquet or nosegay, specifically made for tossing so that the bridal bouquet can be preserved as a wedding momento.

To toss the garter, the groom removes the garter from the bride's leg and tosses it in a similar fashion to the eligible bachelors. The same tradition applies- the man who catches it is said to be the next to marry. Typically the two lucky recipients then dance with one another.

When to Leave
It was once customary for the bride and groom to make a getaway during the wedding reception to begin their honeymoon, which was also the signal that the guests could start to leave. Today, however, many couples are choosing to spend extra time with their out-of-town wedding guests and are planning to stay at the reception until the very end. You may still change into going-away clothes (check with your reception site about changing rooms when you do your wedding planning) and then come back to bid your guests a final farewell. Guests may throw rice, birdseed or potpourri, or blow bubbles, as you and your new husband make your exit.



Whether your reception is formal or informal, following an order of events will keep the affair orderly and running smoothly. Oftentimes the caterer, maitre d' or master of ceremonies will assist you in keeping the show on schedule, so it's wise to review the order of the day (or evening), in advance, with your point person. Consider the following as a suggested guide which you can tailor to your particular needs. 

1. Guests arrive and pass through the receiving/reception line. The reception line should be arranged so that the bride stands to the right of the groom. The line then follows this order: bride's mother, bride's father, groom's mother, groom's father, bride, groom, maid-of-honor, bridesmaids. Although the fathers need not "officially" be in line, it is a nice twist to tradition for them to do so. If they choose not to, they can instead mingle with the guests. 

2. An announcement is made by the Master of Ceremonies announcing the arrival of the newly married couple.

3. The bride and groom lead a procession of the bridal party to the dais (or the bridal party enters and goes to their individual table assignments). If there is a dais or bride's table it should be arranged as follows: 

6, 5, 6, 5, 4, 1, 2, 3, 6, 5, 6, 5, (1.bride, 2. groom, 3.maid-of-honor, man, 5. bridesmaids, 6.ushers) 

4. The bride and groom then take their places. The bridal party is seated and then all the other guests are seated. 

5. The first course is served and the toasts are made.

6. Any telegrams are read aloud by the best man or the Master of Ceremonies.

7. The main course is served and completed.

8. The bride cuts the cake. Traditionally the bride takes the knife in her right hand. The groom places his right hand on her right hand. The bride shares the first piece of cake with the groom. Then the remainder of the cake is cut by one of the catering staff and each guest gets a piece. 

9. The bride and groom dance the first dance. 

10. Next, the bride then dances with her father, the best man, her father-in-law, the ushers, and, then again, the groom. After that, any guest may dance with her. 

11. The groom dances with his mother-in-law, the maid-of-honor, his own mother, the bridesmaids, and, again, with the bride. After that he is free to dance with any other guest. 

12. The bride and groom leave the reception to change into their traveling clothes.

13. The bride returns in her honeymoon clothes and throws her bouquet to the single women guests.

14. The bride and groom say their goodbyes and leave. 


Informal Reception

Introduction of Bridal Party, i.e, the bride and groom are welcomed by the MC (master of ceremonies) 
First Dance, bride and groom alone. 
Bridal Party Dance 
Bride/Father Dance 
Groom/Mother Dance. 
Wedding Party Dance (optional). These dances may also be done after the Bouquet Toss and Garter Ceremony. 
After most people have finished the main course, the MC announces the first toast. It is before this first toast that the MC can introduce the members of the wedding party by name. Toasts may also be done after the meal. 
The First Toast is offered to the Bride by a brother or someone close to the groom. 
Parents Welcome the Guests. the brides parents are hosting, they will speak first Guests traveling from afar are thanked by name and any new family member (child, spouse, etc.) can be mentioned. 
Other Parents Response Toast and their own words of welcome. 
Best Man's Toast to the Bride If not done earlier. 
Speaking on Behalf of the Bride, her sister or maid of honor presents a toast to the couple. 
Toast to the Bridesmaids by a Groomsman, if not offered earlier by the best man. "Anybody" Toast for any one else with a special greeting. 
Groom's & Bride's Speech, optional, but becoming more common. They thank guests for coming and toast to their parents. 
MC closes by announcing dancing. 
Cake Cutting 
Bouquet Toss & Garter Ceremony 
MC Final Toast 
Last Dance 
Departure of Bridal Couple 


Receiving Line

Receiving lines are a tradition at many weddings, but the "how to" of introductions can seem complicated.
Begin by deciding what last name the bride will be using after the wedding. If, for whatever reason the couple feels that the bride's choice of last name will be a sore point with some family members, the family should be made aware of their decision well before the wedding.
The most important rule of thumb is that when making introductions is that you present the lesser "ranking" person to the senior person. So . . .
1. A younger person gets introduced to an older person.
2. A junior work or business person gets introduced to an older or senior person.
3. A local guest of equal status outranks an out-of-town guest.
4. A clergy person outranks a lay person.

The method of introduction is fairly simple: 1. Say the name of the senior person first.
2. Use the formal name of the senior person when making an introduction, so the junior person is sure of how to address the senior person.
3. When introducing people of equal rank, it doesn't matter who is presented to whom, but do include as much information as possible.
4. A formal approach toward introducing your in-laws to guests is a respectful choice, regardless of what your in-laws may ask you to call them later on.
5. With weddings today including extended family members, introductions should include brief explanations.
6. When introducing a couple who live together, straight or gay, it is not necessary or appropriate to give long explanations. If you know the terminology that couples use toward one another, use it.

Keep these simple guidelines in mind and remember that you're in a loving group and you will do just fine.


Wedding Master of Ceremony Duties

The Master of Ceremonies is the "conductor" of an event or meeting. The primary responsibility of the Master of Ceremonies is to serve as a genial host. An ideal MC is a person who has poise, presence and who can command the attention of an audience.

The Master of Ceremonies is responsible for ensuring that the program/event runs smoothly, runs on time and that all important people at the event are introduced in a complimentary, professional manner. Being a successful Master of Ceremonies requires, preparation, a friendly manner and ability to adjust to/ad lib as necessary to ensure a successful event 
"It is an honor to be asked to be the master of ceremonies at a function. It means that you have a sense of humor, know how to project your voice, and
can handle audiences. It means that you have the gift of being able to "think on your feet" so that you can react quickly in an emergency. (An 'emergency' arises when the lead entertaining act has not arrived, when the main speaker falls ill and has to be taken home, or when the air-conditioning ceases to function and the microphones don't work!)."

Before the Event

A successful Master of Ceremonies is thoroughly prepared. Meet with organizers well in advance of the event to confirm the purpose of the event and the planned agenda in detail.

If possible contact all speakers or others who will have a role in the program and confirm their responsibilities, time allotted to them and anything they might require at the event. In preparation for introducing key speakers contact them to find out the title/topic of their presentation and some background information on them. Use this information to prepare your introduction of the speaker.

Find out if there will be any special guests in attendance who should be acknowledged at the event. 

Arrive early in order to finish any last minute details
Have an agenda and plan to stick to it. If there is not a formal agenda consider preparing a detailed script for yourself outlining everything you have to do, a timetable, including breaks, so that you will know what is supposed to happen when and so you won't forget something important.

Be prepared.

While you can plan well, things can run amuck. Be aware that this can happen and have a possible strategy to address problems that might occur. The ideal MC is resourceful, creative, flexible and able to respond to problems "on the fly". 

Make sure all audio equipment (if used for speeches/toasts, etc.) is in working order.

Direct the wedding attendants to their proper spots in the receiving line. If it is a very large wedding party, then the bridesmaids and groomsmen should not stand in the receiving line in order to have it move faster. The receiving line should be located near the entrance to the reception area and the bridal party should be lined up as follows, from left to right:

the bride's mother (as hostess) 
the bride's father 
the groom's mother 
the groom's father 
the bride 
the groom 
the maid of honor 
the best man 
the bridesmaids 
the groomsmen (although not necessary 

Child attendants do not participate in greeting the guests. If anyone's parents are divorced, you may want to leave the fathers out of the line, which is acceptable, as they can circulate and greet guests in this manner. If you wish to include step-parents along with biological parent's, then they should stand to the groom's left (before the bridesmaids). If the reception is being hosted by someone other than the bride's parents, then they should have the honor of standing at the front of the receiving line. Remember to discuss all this with the bride and groom so everyone is clear on who's standing where in the receiving line. 

Direct special guests to any reserved seating areas. Groomsmen/ushers can help with seating of general guests if they are not in the receiving line.

Once guests are seated, announce the entrance of the bride and groom. Have the DJ or band play any music that was selected for their entrance.

Introduce yourself as the Master of Ceremonies, welcome the guests to this happy occassion and introduce everyone at the head table, including the flower girl and ring bearer, even if they are seated elsewhere.

Announce the serving of dinner and introduce the person who will be saying grace, if this is to be included in the reception.

Once the main course has been completed, but before desert, it will be time to begin the speeches. Make sure you give the head table 10 mintues warning, so that they can run to the washroom, etc. before the speeches begin. Also make sure that there is wine or champagne at each table for toasting.

As the wedding MC, you will call upon the first person to begin the speeches, which is usually a good family friend/relative who knows the couple well. They will present a speech and toast to the bride and groom.

The MC then announces that a reply will be made by the groom (or the bride and groom both, as is often done today). The groom/bride accept the toast to themselves, and in turn thank everyone for their help in the wedding preparations and thank the guest for attending. They finish with a toast the maid of honor and bridesmaids.

The MC will then stand and call on the Best Man to respond to the toast. The best man accepts the toast on behalf of the bridesmaids, then usually tells a short, humorous story about the groom, followed by a toast to both sets of parents. 

The MC then calls upon the parents of the bride to speak first, followed by the parents of the groom.

Once these formal speeches and toasts are completed, the MC then has the best man or a groomsmen read any faxes, telegrams or letters that were received from guests that couldn't attend the wedding.

As the Master of Ceremony, you will propose a toast to all friends and relatives who couldn't attend the festivities.

The MC then announces the cutting of the cake by the bride and groom. Following this, desert is served and the bride and groom walk from table to table speaking with guests and handing out the groom's cake.

After desert is finished, the Master of Ceremony announces the first waltz by the new couple.

During the reception, the MC also announces when it's time to throw the bouquet and the garter at a time prearranged by the bride and groom. You will also announce any special dances or other activities that have been planned for the evening. For example, many couples now have a "bride's last dance" (with all the single men in a circle) and the groom has a "groom's last dance" with all the single women in a circle.

At the end of the evening, when the bride and groom are ready to leave, the Master of Ceremony announces this to the guests so they can make their good-byes and give their good wishes to the bridal couple. 


The Wedding Meal


Sit down, buffet, food stations or cocktail reception 
Price per person (adult, child, entertainers, etc.) 
Start and end times for each phase of the affair


Be candid and up front with the caterer about your budget parameters. 
Ask about any "guaranteed number" of guests. 
Discuss details regarding guests who are no-shows. 
Are the entertainers, photographers, etc. in the head count?
Where do they eat? 
Discuss per person and reduced fee children's charges.
[Under what age is a guest considered a child?] 
Are taxes, gratuities, service fees and hotel taxes included in the price?

Is there a maître d'? Is the maître d' tip included? 

Are parking attendants included? 

Are guests expected to tip (at the bar, for example)?

[Try to find a caterer who doesn't include gratuities 
in the per person price. This allows you to tip as you feel appropriate.] 

Are the taxes included on food and liquor? 

What about unexpected guests who show up? 

Is valet parking included? If not, ask for vendors' names.

Is there a coat room? Attendant? Is the price included? 

Are there any other/additional fees not included in the quote or proposal?

Check to see that your caterer is certified and ask about insurance coverage. 
What is the payment schedule?

How much of a deposit is required? 

Are there overtime charges and, if so, what are they?

[Assign a friend to let you know when you're a half hour to "closing," 
before overtime charges start to accrue.] 

Are there bar charges (i.e., bartender)? 

What is the cancellation fee and, if so, how much? 

Is the price fixed or subject to change?


Does the caterer offer an opportunity for food tasting?
[Make arrangements to attend a food tasting, so you can actually sample the caterer's food.] 

Does the caterer use only fresh food and produce? 

Will any of the food be previously frozen?

Discuss any special recipes and/or restrictions 
you or your guests may have, with regard to food.

Does the price include the wedding cake? 

Is a vegetarian or a vegan option available, if needed? 

Hors d'oeuvres 
(hot, cold, stationary, served, how many & what kind) 

Carving stations 

Children's table 

Beverages (soft drinks, punch, liquor)


French service (guests served individually from platters), 
American service (guests served from filled plates brought from kitchen), 
buffet (guests serve themselves), 
family-style service 



Salad and/or vegetable platter 

Will there be a choice of entrees? 

What about menu substitutions? 

What side dishes will be served? 

Assorted relishes 

Bread, rolls, condiments, dressings 

Beverages (at the table, open bar, by consumption at-the-bar, rolling, juice bar) 


Viennese table 
After dinner drinks 
Wedding cake (Included in the price? 
Additional cake cutting fee?

Number of servers and bartenders 
Ratio of servers to guests [1 server for every 8-10 guests is the standard] 
How many servers will be required per each number of guests, and at what cost? 
Dress code

What rooms will be used? 
Is the caterer familiar with the kitchen facilities and the reception room you have chosen? 
[Food preparation is much easier in a familiar location.] 
What items, if any, will the caterer provide?
[e.g., chairs, tables, flatware, dishes, glasses, linens] 
Ask to see photos

Discuss coordination of colors.

Tableware and Linens

Does price include table linens, napkins, dishes, and glassware?

Ask to see samples, and, if you're consider rental, at an additional price! 
Tables, chairs, etc. 
Utensils & dishes 
Paper goods 
Party goods & religious items 
(e.g., matches, skullcaps, guest towels in restrooms, place cards, table numbers, candles, etc.)

Can the caterer recommend other professionals in wedding-related services?
Are there any discounts for packages? 
[Professionals who have worked together before 
will be more familiar with one another's quirks.]

Discuss particulars about any leftovers. Who will get them? 
As your caterer to prepare a "Take-away Basket" for you to much on after the wedding.


How Much And How Many You Need

If you are expecting to take on a large part of planning your wedding, 
then these guidelines will serve you well. 
If you'll be leaving the work to professionals, 
then these tips will make you a more educated consumer. 

1. Calculate How Large a Tent you will need for a garden wedding with an outdoor reception. 

Allow 12 square feet for each person in your outdoor space and/or in your tent. 
This calculation will allow space between the tables. 
If, for example, you are having 100 guests, 
you will need a tent measuring 30 feet by 40 feet. 
You will need to leave additional space in the tent so 
the caterer can set up serving and/or buffet tables. 
Figure at least one buffet table for each group of seventy-five guests. 

2. Calculate How Many Drinks Will You Need

The average cocktail party lasts three hours. 
Allow three drinks per person, more, depending on your guests' drinking habits. 
A buffet or sit-down dinner is usually about four hours long. 
Figure three to four drinks per person. 
For a wedding that is planned for "all evening," 
about five or six hours, figure on four drinks per guest. 

3. Calculate How Many Servings of Alcoholic Beverages 


you can get and how many bottles you need for a wedding reception.
Start by a best guess as to what kind of liquor your guests will prefer. 
Are they more likely to prefer wine, hard liquor or beer? 
How many do you estimate are non-drinkers?

Then follow these guidelines to calculate:

The average bottle of wine (26 oz./750 ml) yields 5 Servings. 
The average bottle of champagne will yield 6 flute glasses. 
A case of champagne will yield 72 Servings. 
A 26 oz. (750 ml) bottle of spirits yields 17 Servings of 1 ½ oz. (45 ml) each. 
A 40 oz. (1.14 L) bottle of spirits yields 25 Servings. 
You will need three bottles of mix for every bottle of spirits. 
Try to further refine your guesstimate. 
Do you know that more of your guests prefer red wine over white, or 
that most of your older guests will prefer rye or vodka?

Whatever your total comes to, add extra bottles. 
Most liquor distributors will take back unopened.

Beers and Cheers . . . 
With a domestic-brand beer, a half-barrel keg contains 15.5 gallons, while the 
quarter-barrel contains 7.75 gallons. 
If you are using a 10-ounce cup, this totals to about 200 cups of beer 
for a half-barrel, 
while the quarter-barrel contains about 100 cups. 
(Imported beer kegs are sized differently, with a 
half-barrel containing 10.7 gallons.
 You'll also find that domestic taps may not fit an imported keg.) 

To set up a bar for a cocktail party . . .

Allow at least 11 lbs. (5 kg.) of ice cubes per every ten adults. 

Have bottles of soda water, 
ginger ale, 
lemon-lime soft drinks, 
tonic water, 
bitter lemon, 
tomato juice, 
clamato juice or vegetable cocktail, 
orange juice, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, 
and a variety of diet soft drinks,
 carbonated and non-carbonated waters 
for mixes and refreshments for non-drinkers.

For cocktail mixes you will need 
Worcester sauce, 
Tabasco sauce, 
salt, pepper, 
celery sticks, and 
maraschino cherries. 
For fancy cocktails, 
refer to a cocktail recipe book for a complete list of ingredients. 

For garnishes, 
you will need olives,
 cocktail onions, 
sliced oranges, 
sliced lemons and limes. 

You'll also need to have on hand the tools of the trade: 

ice cubes storage (e.g., ice bucket, cooler chest)
bottle opener 
can opener 
ice tongs 
shot glasses for measuring 
small sharp knife and cutting board 
long-handled spoon for mixing drinks 
cocktail napkins, toothpicks or cocktail picks, and straws 
For serving fancy cocktails, you will also need: a cocktail shaker.

3. Calculate the Kind and Amount of Glassware You'll Need

For a wedding reception, you will be safe with three kinds of glasses: 
a multi-purpose wine glass, 
a tall tumbler 
glass for all mixed drinks, 
and flutes for champagne. 
You should have at least one of each glass per guest, 
plus a few extras to spare. 
Make sure to add extras of tumblers for "heavy" drinkers 
and for guests who drink 
non-alcoholic beverage after drinking alcoholic beverages.

For a cocktail party, have on all the above, plus fancy cocktail glasses. 
You may wish to provide one "specialty" cocktail, such as 
a margaritas or martinis. 
This simplifies your hosting tasks. 
But, should you wish to offer a 
complete range of cocktails, 
you will do well to hire a professional bartender. 

4. Calculate the Number of Hors D'oeuvres Per Guest

The number of hors d'oeuvres you will need 
is dependent upon the kinds of hors d'oeuvres you are serving, as 
well as the length of the party. 
It's always nice to provide a variety of choices. 
For a two-hour cocktail party, 
eight choices will work. 
Allow three pieces of each type for each guest. 
If the hors d'oeuvres are substantial, 
you can reduce the number per guest to two pieces of each kind. 

5. Calculate How Much Punch to Prepare

The typical punch recipe calls for 
one bottle of spirits and 
12 cups (3 liters) of mix or juice. 
That will provide thirty Servings. 
Allow one and a half Servings of punch per person.

Follow the simple rule that says that 
a little extra will keep you from getting stressed and worried. 
Do the best 
you can and then, just enjoy!


Seating Arrangements

Begin with a master list. 
Rewrite the list or reorganize it in your file or database, by category.


These are some of the categories which are typical:
bride's family, bride's friends,
groom's family, groom's friends,
bride's work colleagues and/or friends,
groom's work colleagues and/or friends,
singles', children.
Add other categories as necessary.
This master list will give you an idea of the maximum number of guests you may wish to invite.

Once you have reduced the master list to a number with which you are comfortable,
invitations can be written.
While you wait for guests to respond,
you may wish to use color-coded index cards for each category,
one for each guest within the category.
The index card method is a blessing when it comes to the actual seating arrangements.
Sit back and wait for the RSVPs.
As regrets comeback, set those cards aside and/or
eliminate and/or tag the guest appropriately in your database or word processing document.
It makes absolutely no sense to start arranging guests before all the responses are back.
To do so before that, will just result in the need to reshuffle, doing the job twice.

If you are have a serious time constraint,
you may begin when most of the cards are returned.
Set tables of eight, assuming that your caterer is putting ten at each table,
or tables of ten, if your caterer is putting twelve at each table.
Using that system, you allow yourself a one couple leeway (or two singles) at each table.
If, in the end, you are forced to leave two seats empty,
a table of eight is still full enough and it is always better to have
two tables of eight than with one table of ten and one table of six.
A half-empty table is depressing to everyone seated there.

The process starts to get difficult when
you have a guest who just doesn't fit into a pre-defined category.
The trick is to put such guests at tables with people who may be compatible
at least on some level, such as age, similar occupations, and "not-coupled" guests.
It is certainly acceptable to mix friends and relatives at a table
if they have other things in common.
The key is always to arrange people in the best way you know
that will create an atmosphere in which they are likely to enjoy themselves.

The reception will go more smoothly
if particularly serious attention is paid to seating arrangements
where divorced or separated parents are involved.
There is no percentage in seating divorced parents
(and their respective families) close to one another.
Avoiding a head table and seating parents at separate tables, best deals with the problem.

Even if you do the job the best way know how
it is likely that you will wind up with a group of twelve people
who should appropriately be seated together at a table which only holds ten.
It's best under these circumstances to split the table in half,
putting six guests at each table, and filling in the remaining
for seats with those guests who simply don't fit anywhere else.
If the tables are placed adjacent one another,
it's possible for people to converse with one another by visiting "next-door."

When using the index card system,
there is both an advantage and a disadvantage to using one card for each person
rather than one card per couple.
It's easier to keep the numbers straight with cards representing one person.
You must, however, be careful to make certain that when you move a
guest who is part of a couple, to also move the other guest.
Shuffle the index cards around until you have the best possible arrangement of tables.

Once the table arrangement is set, it's time to write out place cards.
Most wedding consultants advise using first and last names rather than titles.
This method eliminates the sensitivity issue for women who object to being addressed
as "Mrs.," as opposed to their own full name.
It also eliminates the problem with women who have maintained
a different last name than their husband's.
Those guests who will be seated with people they don't know
are given an added advantage when place cards have first and last names.
It's easier to remember both John and Mary Smith if their names are written in
that way on the place card, as opposed to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.
Table numbers or table names can be written directly on the place cards
and set out on the place card's table near the entrance to the reception room.
 Of course, it's really important for the table name or number to appear prominently
and not to be "buried" behind a floral centerpiece or set behind candles.

There are any number of variations which can be applied to the card table.
In addition to or in place of floral decorations, it has become increasingly popular
for party favours to double as place cards.
The creative couple may choose to use tiny picture frames, plastic containers
filled with streamers or confetti, or individual boxes of chocolates upon
which to put the names of their guests.
Party favour suppliers are coming up with new and novel ideas every day.
Some couples use the card table to display wedding portraits of their
parents and grandparents, adding a sense of history to the wedding celebration.