How to Organise a Cocktail Wedding Reception

How to Organise a Cocktail Wedding Reception

If you're thinking about just doing a cocktail reception, instead of hosting a sit-down wedding meal, you are in the right place. Here are a few tips to help you to plan an event like that.

Let your guests know

First, it's so important that you let your guests know. You’ve got to tell them that there is not going to be a sit-down dinner.

People do not like being surprised when it comes to food. Plus, of course, they will get very hungry, if they have had nothing or little to eat earlier in the day.

So, tell them on the invitation that it is a cocktail reception. Make doubly sure they understand by listing the type of food that will be served. If you are only going to serve finger foods with the cocktails, it is really important you say that.

Get the timing right

Choosing the right time of day is important with a cocktail dinner style reception. For example, consider holding the ceremony around 2 pm or 3 pm. That way, you can hold the cocktails reception right after. This gives people the option to leave and get some dinner a couple of hours later. Because you are not going to be providing your guests with a full meal, your reception should not coincide with customary meal times.

You still need seating

The biggest mistake people make with this type of reception is not providing enough seating. People are still going to be eating something. So, they're all going to want to sit down. Think heels, think grandparents and you will soon see why seating is so important.

Don’t serve all of the food immediately

Spread out the food a bit. Don’t have it all served straight away. People, will want to nibble throughout the event.

Make the food accessible to all

Of course, you want to have waiters passing out appetizers. But, it is also a good idea to have three or four different stations located throughout your venue where guest can help themselves as and when, without having to queue up. It will also stop the waiters from being mobbed as they enter the reception area. People don’t mean to do it. But, it happens, which means older and younger guests, often, don’t get much of a look in.

Keep an eye on older or infirm guests

Assign, someone to spot guests who are struggling with this style of reception. That way, if an elderly relative or a nursing mother has been sitting for ages, without eating, someone will be there to get them some food and drink. This is important, because other guests will not always notice other guests who are struggling. They will tend to assume they just like sitting quietly or are not hungry. So, you cannot rely on other guests understanding the situation and stepping in to help.

Plan the timings and keep things moving

If your ceremony takes place from 7 to 7.30, you can arrange your cocktail hour from 7.30 to 8.30. You want to do the toasts and cake cutting and coffee straight after.  The last two hours can then be given over to dancing.

It is wise to put an end time for the event on the invitation. This manages your guest’s expectations and will help them to be able to make arrangements to get home.

Do you have any other suggestions for organising a wedding reception?

Whether you're planning some small and low key reception or a larger gathering or themed event to celebrate your wedding. We'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions for organising a wedding reception.

Let us know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook other ideas and suggestions you have for organising a wedding reception to celebrate your big day, by using the hashtag #bridaltastic and we'll share the best.

Let us know any other ideas and suggestions and ideas for organising a wedding reception to celebrate your big day. Post them in our comments section or share them on Instagram or Twitter by using the hashtag #bridaltastic or on our Facebook page and we'll share the best.