Your Ultimate Wedding Reception Checklist

Photo: Elizabeth Messina Photography

Read our detailed list of everything you need for your party. Then, download our corresponding PDF to use as you plan your event.

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Elizabeth Messina Photography

A lot goes into a wedding reception—and we mean a lot. In fact, you might not realize how much you actually need. Of course, there are the obvious things, like seating and food. But when broken down, even those broad categories can be made up of tons of different elements. On top of that, there are less obvious things that are just as important to consider. Have you thought about power sources for lights, for example? What about restroom signs?

Before you start to panic, we're here to help. We've put together a detailed wedding reception checklist of everything you could possibly include. We've truly covered all the bases, including popular décor items, suggested menu additions, and entertainment must-haves. But achieving your desired aesthetic, serving the right fare, and hosting your band or DJ are just part of it. You also have to consider things like guest comfort, which we've addressed.

All and all, we've spotlighted everything you might need to throw a party that'll make everyone, especially you, very happy. So, whether your wedding reception venue is totally bare bones or it's fully outfitted, we highly recommend checking out this list. While it's unlikely that you'll need all the items mentioned, it's best to know your options!

After you browse, we recommending downloading the PDF of our printable wedding reception checklist. That way, you can stay organized by actually checking things off! Another piece of advice? Rent or borrow as much as you can—there's no need to buy most of this stuff.

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Tables For

cassandra ben wedding california tables
Amy & Stuart Photography
  • Dining
  • Buffet
  • Wedding cake display
  • Dessert display
  • Bar/drinks station
  • Guest book
  • Gifts
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Other Furnishings

wedding lounge
Meg Smith
  • Chairs
  • Sofas
  • Rugs
  • Tent
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For the Meal

vicky james mexico table placesetting water view
Jodi & Kurt Photography
  • Hors d'oeuvres
  • Appetizer
  • Entrée(s)
  • Side dishes
  • Dessert
  • Bread and butter
  • Dishes
  • Chargers
  • Flatware
  • Glassware
  • Serving dishes and bowls
  • Serving tools
  • Punch bowl and ladle
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Sugar bowls and creamers
  • Pitchers
  • Butter dishes
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For the Bar

stephanie nikolaus wedding bar
Peaches & Mint by Pia Clodi
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Liquor
  • Mixers (club soda, tonic, ginger ale)
  • Nonalcoholic drinks
  • Water
  • Lemon and lime slices
  • Ice
  • Glassware
  • Cocktail napkins
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Table Accessories

wedding table number
Katherine O’Brien Photography
  • Table number holders
  • Vases
  • Food warmers for buffet table
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For the Wedding Cake

hamida charlie charleson wedding drip cake
Gayle Brooker
  • Cake
  • Cake stand
  • Knife
  • Cake topper
  • Plates
  • Forks
  • Napkins
  • Coffee and tea
  • Coffeemaker
  • Tea maker
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tashina huy colorful wedding couple kiss
Jenn Emerling
  • Flowers or nonfloral centerpieces (for dining tables, guest-book table, ladies' room)
  • Candles (for dining tables, windowsills, etc.)
  • Greenery, lanterns for entryway
  • Garlands, fabric for bride's and groom's chairs
  • Other reception decor
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Printed Materials

kiersten ruairi wedding menus
Anna Delores Photography
  • Table (escort) cards or seating chart
  • Table numbers
  • Place cards
  • Menus
  • Guest book
  • Favor tags
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wedding sign
Marissa Maharaj
  • Reception entrance
  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Bar
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kiersten ruairi wedding dj booth
Anna Delores Photography
  • Stage for DJ or band
  • Adequate power source for band
  • Dance floor
  • Photo booth
  • Photo-booth props
  • Sparklers (for outdoor parties)
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porsha terry wedding jamaica reception tables lights night
Jillian Mitchell Photography
  • Luminaria (paper lanterns) for outdoor walkway
  • Small white lights on trees, cake table
  • Candelabra for dining tables
  • Candles
  • Amber bulbs to replace white ones
  • Tent lighting
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For Outdoor Comfort

Brandon Lata Photography
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellant
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For Female Guests

brittany alex wedding pashminas in boat
Sarah Ingram
  • Flip-flops or flats (for dancing)
  • Ladies' restroom beauty basket
  • Wraps like pashminas (for outdoor evening receptions)
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For Toasting

emily adhir wedding toast
Brandon Kidd Photography
  • Special toasting flutes
  • Mic
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For Young Guests

bessie john wedding kids
Jose Villa
  • Toys, puzzles, coloring books, crayons
  • Special meal
  • Plastic cups
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kaitlin dan wedding favors caramels
KT Merry
  • Coat rack
  • Garbage bags
  • Favors
  • Garter, if throwing
  • Tips (in envelopes)
  • Power strips
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