The wedding sharing continues! This time with a peak into our reception. We celebrated with our family and friends inside the grand 100+ year-old barn at Cambium Farms. We got so lucky with this venue. It's one of the largest barn venues in Ontario, capable of holding up to 225 guests, and is such a beautiful backdrop for a vintage wedding. Natural light pours in through the wooden slats and lights up the entire space. At night, the rafters are lit by strands of string lights and an optional chandelier or disco ball. The barn is complete with a large bar and built in dance floor - what more could you want?
After going through the process of planning out our reception myself, I've collected my thoughts and a few tips on getting the job done and doing it right:
You might have a wedding planner to help you in this process but if you're tackling the challenge yourself, here's how you can get a start on your layout. Ask the coordinator(s) at your venue for a floorplan - they should have a detailed plan with measurements of the entire space, location of permanent fixtures like bars, stages, etc, and locations of doors, windows, and bathrooms. All of these elements will play a factor in where you place tables (i.e. don't block fire exits or access to the bar!). If they don't have a copy on hand, be sure to take important measurements during one of your visits to the venue and be sure to bring a friend to hold up the end of the tape!
MIX AND MATCH
Square, long, or round tables? You don't have to choose just one! Depending on the floor plan of your reception venue, you can really optimize the spacing and number of guests by combining different types of tables. In our case, we had two long rows of tables for close family (one for each side) and the rest of our guests were distributed throughout large round tables (8-10 people per table). You'll find that 10-person round tables take up less space than 10-person square tables and the centre of the round tables won't need as much decor to fill them up.
CHART EARLY AND OFTEN
Don't wait until all the guests have replied to start planning. Once you have a general idea of your floor plan, start filling in the obvious attendees (the newlyweds, the wedding party, parents, siblings, etc.). I used a black bristol board, chalked in the tables and wrote a small post-it note for each guest - this made it much easier to move guests around throughout the process. As guests confirm, you can fill up tables and when they decline, simply throw the post-it away!
DECOR DO'S AND DON'TS
There are a few important informational items that your guests should be able to see at each table: your table numbers/names, their individual seating, and the menu (for dietary purposes). Do: keep decor clear of these pieces enough for visibility. Don't: choose centrepieces that are tall and wide - you want guests to be able to talk to each other across the table. Do: opt for place cards or choose tables for the guests and allow them to select their own place at that table. Don't: clutter up the table with too many things - your guests may have handbags or cameras that they'll need to put down somewhere. Do: add a little sparkle and light with tea light candles (make sure your venue allows candles or use battery operated ones). Don't: feel obligated to make every table look the exact same - as long as the colours and theme are consistent, you can switch up a few vessels, arrangements, and decor elements.