Many event venues are an ideal spot for both the ceremony and the reception. If you decide to utilize a venue for both, one of the biggest stresses for a bride can be the switch. The switch is the transition between the ceremony, a cathedral layout, to the reception, with tables, chairs, dance floor, etc. During my time at Pratt Place Inn and Barn, I have learned a few techniques that might tame the nightmare of the switch.
1. Make sure your guests are entertained. Frustrated, bored guests are not the way to a memorable wedding, so make sure you guests have something to do during the transition period. Whether it is a cocktail hour outside on the porch or lawn games in the pasture, your guests will appreciate the entertainment. Many rental companies have caught on with this trend and can provide games such as horse shoes or baggo to use during the switch. Many brides at Pratt Place have used the Magnolia Dining Room to serve cocktails between the ceremony and reception at the barn.
2. Do as much as you can before-hand. If the venue allows, set up tables along the sides (see picture below) or other areas not used in the ceremony to cut down on prep time. Have the band or DJ set up in a corner prior to the ceremony. Make sure the caterer’s buffet tables are ready for the food. Each of these tactics will save time during the transition.
3. Delegate! You will have just said, “I do,” and the LAST thing you will want to think about is setting up tables and chairs. Weeks before the wedding, assign this job to someone else. Whether you want to arrange a deal with your coordinator or bribe your cousins, make sure there is a group of individuals assigned to this task. That way, you can use the time between the ceremony and reception to have your couple photos taken.
4. Don’t do it! Although I have never seen it with my own eyes, I have heard several brides discuss only setting up for the reception, and having their guests sit at tables during the ceremony. Not every bride will love this idea, but for those that do, it saves so much time and stress! This idea completely eliminates the switch, which some brides may find incredibly comforting.