Cocktail wedding receptions are all the rage, they are classy and upscale, yet cost considerably less than traditional wedding receptions while giving guests the traditional after-the-ceremony “party” feel. Cocktail receptions create a relaxed and social atmosphere, so you will want to plan your cocktail party with socializing in mind. Here are some great tips to have a fabulous cocktail wedding reception.
Select a location which is large enough in space for the amount of guests you plan on having attend. A space too small will frustrate guests looking to mingle. A small space will also make it difficult for wait staff to pass around hors d’oeuvres and drinks. A small space packed with people will also make the location too warm. However, a large space with too few guests, will look sparse and empty, and will make you feel as if half your guests didn’t show up.
A cocktail party is best held between the hours of 4 pm and 7 pm, any earlier your guests may not be hungry, and later, they will be expecting a full meal. A cocktail reception usually lasts between two and three hours, because cocktails and finger food tend to take less time that a full sit down dinner.
Usually, decorations are kept to a minimum, as the location is unique enough to set the mood and tone. If you decide to have some tables and chairs set up, a few candles on each table will add to the mood. Bud vases with single stem flowers will also add to the glamour of the evening. Think simple. Consider purchasing imprinted cocktail napkins with your names and wedding date for a special touch. At the bar area, you may also want to incorporate an ice sculpture.
If you are planning on having a signature drink, plan your menu around your drinks. As a rule of thumb, a two hour reception should have at least six different hors d’oeuvres, a three hour party, at least nine. Of course, you can always offer more than the suggested amounts. You could also have food stations placed around the room, so that guests can easily walk up and select food rather than waiting for wait staff to come their way.
When selecting the menu, look for foods that vary in flavor, in color and in shape/style. You do not want your guests to pass up something because they thought it was an item they already tasted. Also be sure to provide cocktail forks – some food are just too difficult to eat with your fingers.
You may want to consider having a signature drink or drinks – made just for your wedding. Keep in mind that a cocktail reception is centered around cocktails – you should not limit your bar as guests will expect all typical drinks to be available. This includes wine, beer, mixed drinks and hard liquor. This is one area that may be more expensive than a typical wedding reception (Although your overall cost will be less).
If your room is large, consider more than one bar area. Make sure the bar areas are set up so that long lines do not form. Whether you have more than one bar area or many bartenders available, make it so that your guests do not have to wait for their drinks.
Music should be light and encourage socializing. You do not want music which will ruin the social atmosphere of the setting. You could hire a band, a DJ or some classical musicians to walk around the room and play.
Preparing Your Guests – Your Invitations
Make sure you inform your guests on your invitations that a cocktail reception is to follow. This will give your guests an idea of proper attire while letting them know there will not be a full course meal.