Your wedding planning checklist isn't complete if your reception isn't detailed in the plan. The planning, the budget, the arrangements, the event itself are made easier by simply having a list of things, which you can check off as completed. The key is to make planning super fun, not just a super headache.
Break your wedding planning checklist down into a timeline. Things that should be done six months to one year will comprise one category, things done in the final months, weeks and days will have their respective categories. This will provide a clear and easy to follow guideline for what needs to be done. Pick a date as far in advance as possible. The longer you have to plan the less likely you are to go insane before the big day. You'll have a better chance of getting the caterer or photographer you want. You'll be better positioned to lock down the right flowers and favors.
Have a backup plan as much as possible. Mistakes do happen and sometimes a venue may slip up on your date or a wedding vendor may flub your order. A caterer may find themselves backed up and unable to come through for you. Accidents happen and a photographer may be unable to show. Your wedding planning checklist will include plans for these types of eventualities. These things are unlikely, but they're sufficiently important that it helps to have some alternatives. You won't generally want to afford to double book another venue. But give some thought to what you would do if the reception hall became unavailable two weeks before the wedding. It's not unknown, for example, for roofs to collapse from heavy snows right before a winter wedding reception is scheduled.
Some couples do just fine with a few guests gathered at the house of a friend or relatives. Others will want that hall that accommodates 1,000. No matter the size of your wedding reception or wedding ceremony, a good plan will virtually guarantee a good result. Unless you plan to have your cousin take a few snapshots, you'll need to make arrangements for a photographer. Allocate the budget early, and make consultations with your vendors a part of your planning checklist. Ditto with the caterer, florist and other important aspects of the reception. Since weddings do sometimes get called off, some professionals may be available on short notice. Investigate and list the phone numbers of vendors you like.
Good preparation decreases stress. Part of that is having a sound plan that incorporates contingencies. That way your reception will be super, rather than just supper.