How to organise a wedding venue or reception

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How to organise a wedding venue or reception yourself?

Choosing to organise a wedding venue or reception yourself is a great way to save money on your wedding day. If you have the time to get all this organised, arrange delivery & pick up of all equipment, the food, the staff, the plates & cutlery, the linen, and everything else, and you are unsure on what is needed. Then read on below.

This article is for those who have already found a venue or location
and are free to organise everything.
If you would like to speak to someone at Shared Affair at the end of reading this article, find our contact details via our website.

Step 1 – Work out your budget!

Everyone has a top level budget they want to spend, so start with that.

 Step 2 – Get a list of what you need

Here, we have made a list of what you need to organise

The Big Items
If you have a venue, you probably won’t need the following. If you have an empty space, Marquees and TeePees are are available from Shared Affair as well as many hire companies around the areas you’re looking in, along with generators and come in a range of sizes. Shared Affair Catering & Events are able to organise this as part of their extensive catering packages and options or you are able to take on this yourself and contact roughly 10 hire companies in the area.

Marquee . Lights . Flooring . Walls (Clear or not) . Kitchen Area . Generators . Toilets . Bars . Dancefloor

Seating Everyone.
You will need to decide if your wedding is  stand up cocktail style, live food stations or a sit down event. For a cocktail style event, we suggest some bar tables and stools + a few tables and chairs with linens. You should plan to organise

Tables and seats. Bar Tables and Stools, Table Linen . Chairs . Knifes . Forks . Spoons . Dessert Spoons . Plates . Entrée Plates . Dessert Plates . Napkins.

Feeding Everyone
You will need to organise a catering company to serve your guests their meals. Catering companies will need to know what facilities are available in order to supply you with an quote. Certain venues have limited kitchen spaces available and some have large spaces – so make sure to discuss this with the venue prior.
This needs to be considered when consulting with your catering company.

Staff will be needed.
Our recommendations for a successful event, is 1 wait staff per 20 guests for the food if you are serving either canapes or a sit down shared style menu, and 1 bar staff per 40 guests for the drinks service.

A sufficient size garbage bin or area will also need to be arranged for rubbish

The Cake
Decide how you want the cake or dessert to be cut and served and inform your catering company of what you wish to do.

Serving Drinks at the Bar
You will need to setup a bar area for guests to come and grab drinks throughout the event. The following equipment for each bar setup will be needed. Some venues have a bar area already, in which you will need to ask the caterer or the bar tenders to setup the bar before the event starts.

Table/Bar . Table Cloth . Eskies or Buckets . Ice . Bottle openers . Napkins . Straws (Optional) . Recycling bins .

Glassware at the Bar
Keep in mind wash facilities when ordering glasses.
If the venue has none or just basic wash facilities (ie. a dishwasher), then having staff hand wash glasses is a very long process and takes away from your other guests being served efficiently and getting back to the party. There nothing worse than waiting in line, especially at a wedding for a glass. If the venue has  washing machines, great although If there are no wash facilities, we recommend 3 x glass types per person. If you think about it, if someone has 4-8 glasses of wine and grab a new glass every time, the stocks run out pretty quick.
If there are wash facilities, we recommend 1 x glass type person.

Wine Glasses . Champagne Glasses . Beer Glasses (bottles are an option). Spirits Glasses . Soft Drink/ Water Glasses (Optional get bottled) . Water Jugs 

Glassware on the tables
If you want glassware on the tables, you will need to organise 1 x wine, champagne and water glass. This will usually be used throughout dinner, then not used again

Music & Audio Equipment
Keeping the guests entertained will be your next task. Hiring a musician, band or DJ is the best option. These can be found online via various websites or social sites.

The MC and speakers will also need an PA audio system to be heard. You can find many Audio Visual Supplies in your local area online. This will allow both the speakers and the musicians to link into the system.

Step 3 – Decorations & Styling

Get on Pintrest! Start saving pictures to a Pintrest Board. Once you have an idea of what you want, you can then go out and find them. You will need to decorate:

The Tables . The Marquee . Dance / Garden Area / Outdoor Area

Write a list of all the things you need per table or area, then source them.

Fairy Lights . Candles . Mason Jars . Flowers . Dance Area . Smoking Area . Table Signs . Numbers . Seating Plans . Wishing Well . Amenities . Lights . Wine Barrels . Bar Tables . Linen . Outdoor Seating .

Step 4 – The Setup

One the day of or the night before, you will need to get all your friends and family together and have a fun time setting up for the big day. This varies on time taken, depending on how much you have to setup, so be sure to be safe than sorry here.

Step 5 – Partytime!!!

Self Explanatory.

Step 6 – The Cleanup

After the night has finished, the hangover kicks in and the dreaded clean up begins. Drag!

Certain hired equipment will needed to be secured overnight or picked up the night of the wedding. Most hire companies will be able to pick up the hired equipment the night of, usually at an extra fee. If you can lock the equipment up, usually it’s cheaper to deliver and pick up on Monday – Friday

1. Clean up the tables decorations, rubbish and throw anything away you don’t want.
2. Pack down the bar
3. Pack down the tables & chairs
4. Put all the hired equipment together (such as plates, glasses, linen, tables, etc.)
5. Organise for the kitchen to be cleaned
6. Organise for the venue to be cleaned
7. Make sure all hired equipment is picked up.


We hope this article helps with the setup of your special day. If you would like any help in managing your wedding, please give Shared Affair a call on (02) 8089 2555

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Alison Lee
Alison Lee
31. October, 2022.
Delicious food and lovely staff. Everyone commented on how good they were for our celebration. Would definitely recommend and use A Shared Affair again.
Kathy Lipari
Kathy Lipari
22. August, 2022.
A Shared Affair is truly an exceptional catering company. Nikki is an absolute delight to work with and she ensured everything was organised to the nth degree at my recent birthday party. The food was exceptional, the venue (styled by A Shared Affair ) looked amazing. All our guests commented on how delicious every dish was. So many choices of canapés and live food stations, and if you want a sit down dinner they can do that too. Seriously fabulous.
Phoebe Rennie
Phoebe Rennie
26. July, 2022.
Thank you to Nikki and the team at Shared Affair for catering our wedding in late April 2022 at the Manly Yacht Club. We were initially drawn to Shared Affair as we wanted the opposite of traditional alternate-drop wedding food. We wanted our guests to go home happy, full and talking about the wedding for years to come! The food on the evening was all fantastic, starting with a grazing table post ceremony, then small canapés, followed by larger boxes (sliders, pasta and fish & chips) and finishing the evening with our cannoli ‘cake’. A few tips for those looking to cater a cocktail style wedding in the near future. 1 - Task your photographer with getting pics of your grazing table, cos by the time you get back from photos, it will be gone! 2 - Get more arancini balls than you think you need! Those bad boys will go fast and 1 per person is never enough. 3 - People will mistake your cannoli cake for a sweet snack, so make sure your signage is adequate! Shared Affair also provided the bar staff for the night, who were fantastic! Remembering our drinks, ensuring everyone was having a great time while keeping up with the waters, and dancing along with the music. Thanks again to the Shared Affair team for helping to make our wedding exactly what we wanted!
Sayan Ray
Sayan Ray
20. July, 2022.
Nikki and the team at Shared Affair were super helpful and really delivered on a great birthday party. The team guided us with the menu and drinks which was great as I organised the event in Sydney from Melbourne. I highly recommend them for any event!
Jon Cole
Jon Cole
12. May, 2022.
Great food and service on our wedding day. Nikki and her staff turned up early and had everything running like clockwork. All our guest commented on how good the food was, especially the deserts. we just had a canape menu but the quailty was there. Only thing I could fault was their lack of communication in leed up to the wedding. I put this down to them being very busy post covid. Overall happy with having Shared Affair cater our wedding.
Margaret Wilkinson
Margaret Wilkinson
12. April, 2022.
I recently had a party for 30 people and chose Shared Affair to cater for it. The food was very tasty and varied. I ordered eight pieces per person. This was more than adequate and enjoyed by all. The service was excellent and Michael even substituted a few meat pieces in one dish for a vegetarian option to satisfy my vegetarian cousin! I highly recommend Shared Affair.
Emilie Lawson
Emilie Lawson
7. April, 2022.
Worked with the Shared Affair team for corporate event catering and it was fantastic. Very seamless, the team are very professional and the pop-up food stations were an excellent choice for our event.
Harry Kreicers
Harry Kreicers
28. March, 2022.
We used Shared Affair for our wedding reception and could not have been happier. They were incredibly flexible when we needed to move dates around due to Covid. When we finally were able to have our event, the food was delicious, the waiters were friendly and professional, and the portions were enormous! We ended up freezing all the left overs and have been enjoying them ever since. Very happy with our experience with Shared Affair
James Martin
James Martin
20. March, 2022.
Shared affair provided part of the catering for our wedding day. This included 5 x choices of canapes, 2 x choices of salad and a doughnut tower cake. Everything on the day was amazing and our guests complimented on how tasty the food was. We also can confirm that the doughnut tower cake was an excellent/relaxed option (instead of a cake) and we would do it again. We did have a few issues with confirming what we ordered/what we were being provided on the day. This was due to their being two points of contact. In the end it was sorted, but would have been good to deal with one person for the entire process. Recommend shared affair, the food was amazing and our desert was scrumptious.
Claudia Elias
Claudia Elias
6. March, 2022.
Thank you so very much making my 50th fabulous. Never had so much compliments about the food, we opted for the canapes and they were delicious, actually even more than delicious! You made my event even more memorable, and I didn't need to do anything but choose the food options and surrender my kitchen. Your staff was very professional. I will definitely be using your company again. Thanks again!

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