There seems to be an ever-raised bar for receptions. Nothing is off the table! “Opening acts,” choreographed entrances, separate kids' room entertainment, all of the above! It can become a monster and detract from the purpose of the reception – to celebrate the newlyweds. On the other hand, if everyone is on the same page (and ready to cut loose) then “go big or go home!”

While the four corners of any successful event are food, music, fun and takeaways (or “tchotchkes”) there are other elements to consider. Once you book the venue (check out get a good wedding planner on your side and give them your “dream list.”

Got colors? It's not crucial, but if you at least have your colors picked, it's a great “jumping off point.” Forgive yourself for not being a Pantone expert and recognize that after the reception, no one will remember what colors you had (especially if there's an open bar!) That being stated, it's good to pick what makes sense to you and your to-be spouse. The colors can represent something or just be pretty. Check this box and move on to....

Got preferences? A good planner can make suggestions, but don't hesitate to be candid. You have to be completely honest about your likes, dislikes, must haves and needs. Stick to them! Otherwise come party time, you'll only notice what you didn't want and didn't speak up about. A Bridezilla will find a scapegoat.

Got a theme? If a theme comes out of the brainstorm, the best planner will have all the connections to flesh out the vision. You can certainly reach out to connections you'd like to involve or network to meet new resources, but keep everyone in the loop. Bridezillas duplicating efforts is a no-no.

Got flair? When it comes to the entertainment, your planner MAY need help. If so, beware of the entertainer stereotype! It's alive and well. Get the right vendors on the phone and check their values. Companies like TAG Art ( with a good history and a reputation for transparency will seek to enhance your vision, won't be afraid to meet with you, will help you vet the ideas and can even help you make further connections, even if they're not directly involved. Ego-free is the way to be. You can be a baby Bridezilla here because creatives need clear direction (don't let them have carte blanche!)

What's the point? Don't forget this one. Are you interested in blowing off steam? Are you trying to make the right impression? Are you trying to “keep up with the Joneses?” This is another point of commitment. For example, if you take it the easy-going, not-a-big-deal direction and you really want to pull-out-all-the-stops, then you'll be frustrated. This will reinforce the theme/no theme approach.

Delegate and release! The right planner is key. However, there are also the “wanna be's” - the control-freak aunt, the success monger sister, the CEO mother-in-law. They come in all forms. If you get the sense that another chef wants to be in the soup, have the pre-emptive discussion with the planner, pick a few “important non-essentials” and delegate. Sometimes it's all a matter of sharing the power (even though it's always supposed to be YOUR way.)