Wedding Planning For Dummies
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Planning a wedding involves hundreds of decisions, from calculating how much liquor to buy to figuring out how much space and how many servers you need for your reception.

You also want to be prepared for any kind of emergency that happens on your wedding day. Fortunately, many new websites and smartphone apps can help you with all aspects of your wedding planning, especially your budget.

How much space do you need for your wedding?

Figuring out how much space you need for wedding events isn’t easy, especially for the reception site, which has to accommodate tables, chairs, bars, open cocktail space, the dance floor, and so on.

Here’s a chart that tells you how many square feet you need for various wedding events.

Space Recommended square feet per person
Ceremony 8
Cocktails (pre-meal) 8
Cocktails with dance floor 10
Cocktails with hors d’oeuvres stations 12–13
Seated and served meal with dance floor 13–15
Dance floor 3 (for a dancing crowd)

How many servers do you need for the reception?

The number of servers included in your wedding reception contract will vary depending on the venue, its service standards, and the event’s degree of formality.

This table lists the suitable amounts of staff for different types of wedding receptions:

Type of Service Recommended Number of Servers
Formal, multi-course meal 1 to 2 waiters per 10 to 12 guests
Simple menu or buffet 1 waiter per 25 guests
Pre-dinner cocktails 1 bartender per 50 to 75 guests, combined with wine passed by

How much liquor to buy

If you’re hosting your wedding in an off-premise facility or your rehearsal dinner at home, you need to know how much liquor to buy. The following table gives the standard amounts needed for a simple bar.

Note: Amounts are for 100 guests with a four-hour open bar, including cocktail hour. For ice, figure on 1-1/2 pounds per person; 2-1/2 pounds per person if also chilling bottles.

Alcohol Amount
Campari 1 liter
Gin 5 liters
Rum 2 liters
Scotch 4 liters
Tequila 1 liter
Vermouth (dry) 2 750-ml bottles
Vermouth (sweet) 2 750-ml bottles
Vodka 6 liters
Whisky (blended) 1–2 liters
Beer and Wine Amount
Beer 2 or 3 cases
Champagne during cocktails 1-1/2 cases
Wine (white) during cocktails 1-1/2 cases
Wine (red) during cocktails 6 bottles
Mixers Amount
Club soda 9 liters
Cola 14 liters
Diet cola 12 liters
Ginger ale 7 liters
Juices (cranberry, orange, grapefruit) 8 quarts each
Lemon-lime soda 7 liters
Diet lemon-lime 7 liters
Tonic 1 case

Round tablecloth sizes for your reception

Change the look of your entire wedding reception simply by choosing a floor-length tablecloth. But what size tablecloth will cover those nasty, industrial-looking legs of a typically round banquet table?

Here’s a guide to tablecloth lengths for various-sized round tables:

Table diameter Floor-length cloth
60 inches 120 inches
54 inches 114 inches
48 inches 108 inches
36 inches 96 inches

Bridal emergency kit checklist

You want to make sure you’re prepared for any kind of issue that might arise on your wedding day. Consider packing a satchel or gym bag with some or all of the following items:

  • Aspirin, antacid, and any other meds you need

  • Hand wipes

  • Ballet slippers for dancing

  • Blow-dryer

  • Brush, comb, and hair spray

  • Clear nail polish, nail glue, and emery board

  • Contact lenses and solution

  • Earring backs

  • Extra copies of wedding-day and transportation schedule

  • Eyedrops

  • Makeup

  • Masking tape (for ripped hems) and double-stick tape

  • Pins (bobby, hair in blonde and black, safety, and straight)

  • Sewing kit complete with thread in white, black, and bridesmaids’ dress colors; have needles threaded and ready to go

  • Smelling salts

  • Stick stain remover

  • Stockings (two pairs)

  • Straws (for a quick drink without messing up lipstick)

  • Studs, cuff links, and bow ties

  • Tampons and sanitary napkins

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, and breath mints

  • Tweezers and crochet hook (to get at button hooks and other teeny places)

  • White chalk (a savior for lipstick on a wedding dress or shirt collar)

Wedding planning websites and apps

There are many websites and apps that can make the wedding-planning process infinitely less painful (although apps can’t replace a real, live, hands-on wedding planner, thank goodness!). Below are just a few suggestions to give you an idea of what’s out there. But do an internet search to find what suits you best.

  • WeddingHappy: An app preloaded with tasks you’ll need to complete, alerts to deadlines, and the ability to share with family and friends.
  • Paperless Post: Use this site to send beautiful, electronic save-the-dates and e-invitations.

  • Social Tables: This site makes creating your seating chart a snap!

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Marcy Blum (New York, NY), is the co-author of previous editions and a world-renowned event planner who has orchestrated lavish functions for Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Billy Joel and Katie Lee, the Rockefeller family, and Regis and Joy Philbin. Blum is recognized by such publications as New York magazine, who named Marcy their first (and only) "Best Wedding Planner." She frequently contributes her expertise in food, entertaining and decorating as a writer for InStyle Weddings, Town & Country, and?Modern Bride. Blum is often featured and called upon as an industry leader for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, People, and Brides, and has hosted segments on?The Today Show, Good Morning America, Live! With Regis and Kelly, Dateline and Top Chef.

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