How to plan the perfect reception - Cornerstone Canmore

Your big day is the perfect chance to share your commitment and connection with your closest loved ones.


While the many details that go into planning both a wedding reception and ceremony can feel overwhelming, with a little help and foresight, putting together a wedding that embodies your personal style can be easier than you think.

At Cornerstone Weddings we’re proud to help our couples say ‘I do’ in style! We have plenty of experience creating the perfect day. If you’re celebrating a new engagement and are wondering how to get started planning your nuptials, below are some of the top wedding reception tips to keep in mind.

Remember the Big Picture

Whether you’ve had your dream wedding in mind since childhood or are new to the idea of planning a wedding, you’ve likely discovered by now that a wedding is the sum of many parts. From dresses to catering and venues for the ceremony and reception, there’s no shortage of things to keep track of! Somewhere between the “Yes” and “I do” some people start to lose sight that what matters is celebrating your commitment. No matter what your style or budget is, remember that your reception is ultimately a celebration of you and your spouse becoming a family. While there are plenty of trends and guides to follow, focus on creating an environment that reflects the joy of your union!

What Makes a Reception Special?

While your wedding ceremony is the perfect way to share your love and commitment by officially reciting vows, the reception is your chance to cut loose and celebrate! Receptions allow your guests to share your day with you in a more social setting, as well as mingling with each other over drinks, food, and entertainment. A well-planned wedding reception will leave your friends and family with fond memories for years to come, and is a great way to say “thank you” for being a part of your special day. In order to make sure your festivities go off without a hitch, there are a few core details you’ll want to consider early on.

Making The Transition From Ceremony to Reception

Regardless of whether you have separate venues for your wedding and reception, one important aspect that couples can easily overlook during the planning process is ensuring a smooth transition from ceremony to reception. Like any important event, timing and direction are crucial to success, even if your guest list is on the smaller side. Planning ahead will save you, as well as your guests, stress and ensure that everyone enjoys the day as it unfolds. Key factors to consider include:


One of the first and most important aspects of planning your reception is finding your venue. Choosing the right location ensures everyone will be comfortable and able to enjoy the festivities in style. To make sure you snag your dream spot as well as your perfect set up, you’ll want to:

Book early!

Popular spots fill up fast and can require as much as 18 months notice to secure your date. If you have a specific location in mind, make sure contacting the venue is at the top of your to-dos.

Keep Capacity and Guest Needs In Mind

Your guest list will play a large role in helping to decide whether a venue is the right fit for your reception or not. Too much space can leave the room feeling empty and gaunt, whereas too many guests in a smaller area can be uncomfortable and create a hazard. Choose a venue that gives your wedding party enough space to move with ease to avoid your guests feeling cramped.

Another key question to have in mind when selecting your venue is whether or not your guests have any accessibility needs. Elderly guests, as well as those that require a wheelchair or other devices to navigate, may need access to an elevator, or assistance navigating steep stairs etc. Address these factors with any potential venue prior to book to avoid any complications later on.

How Will Your Guests Get From The Ceremony to Reception?

If both areas are within the same complex, this may be easy, but if you’re planning two separate sites for your celebrations, it’s important to make sure this is clearly communicated. Make navigation easy for your guests by providing maps and directions, including any relevant details for parking, accessibility related information, and more. Take into account any challenges that may hinder transportation for your guests, and be sure to find suitable routes and options for everyone. Bear in mind that challenging venue changes may also complicate things for your service providers (photographers, florists, etc.) and should be taken into consideration prior to booking a site.

Food and Drink

No one likes to celebrate on an empty stomach! Weddings can be a long day for both the bride and groom as well as their guests. Avoid a grumpy wedding party by ensuring you have snacks and enough to dine on throughout the evening. General considerations for food and beverage include:

Without a proper budget in mind, food and beverage costs can easily creep up on your bottom line, especially if you plan on serving alcohol. Having a set limit will help alleviate stress and prevent you from having to pull funds from other areas of the reception.
Can You Taste Your Menu in Advance?
Avoid any surprises by discussing a food tasting, and if there is any additional charge for the service, beforehand.
Are You Providing A Caterer or Using the On-Site Team?
Every venue has different requirements with regards to outside caterers and beverages. Check with your location to make sure you’re in the loop.
Take Dietary Restrictions Into Account
While selecting a menu that is safe for a broad selection of palates and tastes may help avoid unhappy guests, it’s important to keep those who may have certain allergies and restrictions in mind as well. If you know of any particular needs, it’s best to discuss this with your caterer as soon as possible.
A Note On Alcohol
Raising a toast can be the perfect way to celebrate with your guests, but if you’re planning on serving alcohol at your reception, it’s important to take some time to consider what the best approach is. As mentioned above, alcohol can quickly increase your budget, so speaking with your venue about what their rules and services are can save you a headache in the long run.


Much like food and drinks, entertainment plays an important role in making sure your guests enjoy their evening. Set aside a reasonable amount to ensure you have sufficient funds to book your preferred type of entertainment, and consult with the venue to see what their stipulations for outside performers are. Other things to consider are:

What Kind Of Music Works Best?

While the question of live music or a DJ often comes down to personal preference, other factors like your budget and what set up best suits your venue will influence the decision as well. Remember that there are pros and cons to both options, so take some time to make an informed selection.

Reviews Are Key

Before you sign on the dotted line with any entertainment, make sure you do your homework. Look for online reviews, word of mouth, and other verification before you put your money down.

Ready to plan the Rocky Mountain reception of your dreams?

Contact Cornerstone Weddings today to learn more!