• Raina

Having Your Ceremony and Reception in the Same Location

Couples love the idea of having their ceremony and reception in the same location, but perhaps your venue is not quite large enough to have a separate space for both the ceremony and reception. What most often happens in these cases is that we will set up for the ceremony, and at the ceremony's conclusion, the guests will be asked to go to a different area of the venue such as the lobby or an outdoor area. In the meantime your wedding planning team, will transform your ceremony, reconfiguring the space with tables and chairs to become an elegant reception location. The caterer will set up the food, linens will go on the tables, floral arrangements will be set out...depending on how much needs to be done, a room flip can range in duration.

For example, if you are hosting a buffet reception, then your flip can go pretty quickly, because just the buffet tables and chafing dishes need to be set up. If it's a seated dinner, then your flip may take a little bit longer, because your planning team is having to set out menu cards and fully set your tables.

A room flip truly only works well if you have a dedicated space for your guests to vacate to for a little extra mix and mingle time during the cocktail hour in between the ceremony and the reception. If not, and guests begin to seep into the room trying to take their seats during the actual room flip it can just as easily spell disaster.

Here are our Top Tips to make sure your single-venue wedding goes off without a hitch!

  1. Clearly word your invitations so guests know you’re only using one venue. You may also want the officiant or DJ to make an announcement as your ceremony comes to a close that guest must not enter the reception space until told to do so.

  2. Divide your venue into two distinct spaces, one for your ceremony and the other for your reception. In a large, undefined space, this is generally fairly easy. This way, your planning team won’t need to move as many chairs or rearrange décor delaying the opening of your reception space.

  3. If the weather permits, hold your ceremony outdoors and your reception indoors. You won’t give up space inside to keep the two pieces of your day separate. However, if you are only using one set of chairs for ceremony and reception, please ensure your guests remain outdoors for cocktail hour as well giving your planning team time to reset.

  4. When using the same space for both ceremony and reception with guests sitting at their reception tables, consider exchanging vows on an elevated platform so everyone can see.

  5. Instead of saying “I do” at the front of the room where your head table will likely be placed, consider standing in the center of the dance floor. This way, more of your guests will have a great view.

  6. If guests are seated at reception tables, rather than in rows of chairs, for your ceremony, add a few extra chairs right up front. Elderly guests will appreciate a spot where it’s easier to see and hear your vows.

  7. Make sure centerpieces and other décor items don’t block the view if guests are watching the ceremony from tables.

  8. Create an aisle with tables, rather than chairs. You’ll still enjoy the feeling of walking through your guests to the alter, without having to flip the space afterward.

  9. Keep an eye on the temperature of your space. With so many people in a single space for a long time, things can get stuffy. Air conditioning is ideal, even in spring and fall.

  10. Hire a professional planning team who is familiar with your venue and have helped other couples flip spaces between the ceremony and reception. They’ll know exactly how to arrange the space in your venue in a way that highlights your relationship and keeps your guests comfortable.

  11. Get creative with how you keep your guests occupied while your venue is flipped from ceremony to reception. You’ll likely be taking photos during this time, but don’t leave guests hanging. Cocktail hours are common; consider a more unique pastime, like a scavenger hunt, lawn games, puzzles or even a food truck. Check out our previous blog post, 10 Fun Ideas for Non-Dancing Guests for more great entertainment options.