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Top tips to consider when planning a cocktail wedding reception

It is becoming ever so popular these days with couples throwing out the rule book and opting for a cocktail wedding over your traditional sit-down meal.


Choosing between a cocktail or sit-down reception is really dependent on the atmosphere you’re wanting to pull off. If you want a laid-back party vibe where guests can mingle freely then the cocktail style is for you. For a more formal affair, the sit-down option is suitable. If you think the sit-down option is for you but don’t want the traditional formal style, why not meet in the middle with long tables and serve feasting style share platters.


Couples are choosing the relaxed vibes of up a stand-up event, but there are some things you need to take into consideration when choosing a cocktail style wedding.


Cocktail weddings are not necessarily cheaper than a sit-down affair


Here are some things you need to consider first..


How to choose the right venue? Obviously when you choose a cocktail style over a sit-down, the venue allows for a higher capacity of guests to fill the space which can be a good thing because you can invite those extra guests on your list, but this also means you have more mouths to feed, and need more cocktail furniture to fill the space, it all adds up!


Does your venue have existing cocktail furniture? If not, you are going to need to hire sufficient furniture so that at least 70% of your guests are able to be seated at any one time of the night. Think about your guests! If you have some elderly guests make sure you provide some comfortable seating, but also remember the ladies wearing heels also need a rest. Mix up your furniture settings by including some high and low seating arrangements, as well as some comfy lounge areas. Remember to tie in your furniture and décor to suit your venue or theme – your furniture hire company can help by tailoring a package to match.


Now for the catering.. There is a popular belief that cocktail style catering is cheaper than a sit-down meal, but don’t be fooled, you still need to serve sufficient food portions as you would for a sit-down meal. Choose a variety of food styles and make sure service of food is spread out during the reception to keep guests entertained. You may want to consider scattered food stations around your reception area so your guests can easily access food. Get creative and provide a variety of food.


Here’s an example of what you can do…

Grazing station of antipasto/cheeses during cocktail hour whilst the bridal party gets photos, serve some light canapes once the bridal party arrives, then after your first round of speeches serve more substantial food like hot fork dishes served in bamboo boats (making it easy to eat whilst standing), combined with a live paella station that the chef is cooking right in front of your guests and to top it off, open the dessert buffet once you’ve cut the wedding cake. But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget the late-night sliders – and trust me, everyone will devour the sliders after a long night of dancing (and drinking)!


I’ve hustled up the tips for couples opting for a cocktail style wedding reception:

  1. Determine your overall wedding style – is a relaxed cocktail wedding for you?

  2. Do your homework – compare venues, compare food and beverage packages and get quotes on furniture hire so you know what you’re up for ($$$) before committing!

  3. Notify your guests it’s a cocktail style wedding so they know what to expect and can wear appropriate footwear

  4. Provide ample food and a variety! Get creative and incorporate food stations

  5. Hire sufficient furniture to make the evening comfortable for your guests and mix up your furniture settings with high and low seating, as well as comfortable lounge areas

  6. Complete your vibe with some feature areas because this is where everyone will be hanging! Keep your guests entertained with a fun photo booth, dance floor and bar!

If you need assistance finding the right venue for your cocktail style wedding, say hello! I’d be happy to assist with your wedding planning.


Hustle & Bustle Co. xx

Cocktail wedding reception at Austinvilla Estate // Image by: Stories By Ash

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