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Reception Ideas

Receiving Line and Photos - or Table Visits?

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Re: Receiving Line and Photos - or Table Visits?

  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited August 2016
    As I have said, there is no such thing as a cocktail reception.  The type of reception should depend on the time of day you are having it, and it should follow your ceremony without a significant gap.

    1. Morning ceremony is followed by a brunch reception, or a luncheon reception.  This is a full meal.
    2. Afternoon ceremony is followed by a tea reception.  Apps and tea sandwiches are very appropriate along with cake.  Coffee and tea are usually served for those guests who don't want to drink this early in the day.  This is what the OP is doing.  Except for alcohol in the afternoon, this is the most traditional kind of reception.
    3. Evening ceremony is followed by a dinner reception. Obviously, a full meal.

    There can be a cocktail hour before any reception.  If your wedding is alcohol free, this may be a "social hour".  Cocktails (mixed drinks) wine or beer can be served at any reception but it is completely optional.
    What would be very improper would be to call something a "cocktail reception", starting at 6:00PM and leave the guests on their own for their dinner.  Of course, the OP isn't doing this, so it is fine.  This is one good reason why you shouldn't call your reception a "cocktail reception".  It sounds like there will be no food!
    The thing about rules - and I am not going by the old school rules here - is that the guests know what to expect without an explanation.  Things have relaxed.  Thirty years ago, cocktails would not be served before 5:00PM, and they still are not in some circles.  Today, it is no big deal as long as you provide an alternative to your guests.

    By the way, I have continued to research "cocktail wedding receptions" and there is a lot of controversy about them.  Some sources say they are improper; some sources think they are a good idea.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited August 2016
    CMGragain said:
    Actually, they are not called "cake and punch receptions", either!  Tea reception is the proper term, because afternoon is tea time, and hors d'oeuvres are often served with tea, coffee, punch, mimosas, etc.  I guess I should be more consistent.  Of course, you aren't supposed to put what kind of reception you are having on the invitation.  Just "Reception to follow."
    I am happy that OP is having her reception in the afternoon.  Nothing wrong with it.
    I get what you are saying, and I respect the history of it, but time marches on in this instance.

    It actually is acceptable and preferable for your guests to indicate "Cake and Punch reception to follow" or "Cocktail reception to follow" if you are not going to be serving a full meal.  It gives guests a heads up that they may need to eat prior to the wedding, and allows them to manage their time accordingly.

    We discussed ad nauseum in another thread why having that line on the invitations is important rather than just assuming your guests will know what's going on based on the time alone;  In many of our circles- TK users-  we actually do serve full meals during our receptions, regardless of the time of day, and so for us, showing up to a 2:00pm reception we'd be surprised to learn we were not going to be having a full meal. . . and we'd be hungry and possibly annoyed too.

    Brunch, cake and punch, cocktail receptions- they just aren't a thing in my circles; I've never been to any of those types of weddings, so in my mind I'm expecting a full meal when I go to a wedding.  If that's not going to happen, I'd really like to know beforehand so I can make appropriate arrangements for myself.

    Notice above how I said I had a cocktail style reception- I didn't, actually.  I had a cocktail hour followed by food stations- so a full meal.  I thought cocktail style reception had more to do with the style of the food served and the seating arrangements, and not that it was apps only.
    No, sorry.  It is about the food and drinks that are served...and if you must, it would be "Tea reception to follow".  I had one at my own wedding, but alcohol was forbidden in the church, so no cocktails or champagne punch,  Daughter had a brunch reception with carved roast beef, salmon, sausages, eggs benedict, etc.  Definitely a full meal!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited August 2016
    I'm having great fun!  I didn't know this stuff!

    When used to refer to any generic alcoholic mixed drink, cocktail may mean any beverage that contains three or more ingredients if at least one of those ingredients is alcohol.

    When a mixed drink contains only a distilled spirit and a mixer, such as soda or fruit juice, it is a highball; many of the International Bartenders Association Official Cocktails are highballs. When a cocktail contains only a distilled spirit and a liqueur, it is a duo and when it adds a mixer, it is a trio. Additional ingredients may be sugar, honey, milk, cream, and various herbs.[1]

    I think I need a drink!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited August 2016
    banana468 said:

    In some aspects of etiquette I'll agree that we stick to the rules because breaking them is offensive.   I find it hard to believe that it's offensive to eat finger foods for more than an hour or to drink cocktails before 5.
    This is my thinking on the whole thing. Etiquette rules are established as a way to treat guests well and not offend anyone. There are rules of tradition (such as what is tea time, what is cocktail time), but these are not synonymous with etiquette.

    I fail to see how it is rude to serve a full meal at a not meal time. I fail to see how it is rude to have a tea reception or cocktail reception for 3 hours (or more- guest are free to leave when they like). I fail to see how it is rude to serve apps at a non meal time, whether it's "tea time" or not.

    To me, a cocktail reception is a style. I expect drinks AND apps (usually something a bit heavier). Informal seating. Non-meal time. Tea reception to me is tea and sandwiches, always in the afternoon.

    At the end of the day, just feed me enough food so I'm not hungry! (I would eat breakfast or brunch food at 8PM too).
    OurWildKingdomViczaesarPrettyGirlLostRedSolo34
  • Ironring said:
    CMGragain said:
    As I have said, there is no such thing as a cocktail reception.  The type of reception should depend on the time of day you are having it, and it should follow your ceremony without a significant gap.

    3. Evening ceremony is followed by a dinner reception. Obviously, a full meal.

    Silly me, I must have dreamt all of the evening cocktail receptions that I've been to then. Or maybe I'll tell the former brides that their reception didn't actually exist and that they get a do over? 

    Fyi, there was enough food at all of them and everyone was probably hosted. This is not a matter of proper etiquette. 
    Maybe someone should tell the thousands of caterers that have "cocktail style" listed as an option. Same with venues (not just wedding), most of them list seating options and capacities for "cocktail parties/receptions". 
    SwissMsPrettyGirlLost
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers First Anniversary
    edited August 2016
    SP29 said:
    banana468 said:

    In some aspects of etiquette I'll agree that we stick to the rules because breaking them is offensive.   I find it hard to believe that it's offensive to eat finger foods for more than an hour or to drink cocktails before 5.
    This is my thinking on the whole thing. Etiquette rules are established as a way to treat guests well and not offend anyone. There are rules of tradition (such as what is tea time, what is cocktail time), but these are not synonymous with etiquette.

    I fail to see how it is rude to serve a full meal at a not meal time. I fail to see how it is rude to have a tea reception or cocktail reception for 3 hours (or more- guest are free to leave when they like). I fail to see how it is rude to serve apps at a non meal time, whether it's "tea time" or not.

    To me, a cocktail reception is a style. I expect drinks AND apps (usually something a bit heavier). Informal seating. Non-meal time. Tea reception to me is tea and sandwiches, always in the afternoon.

    At the end of the day, just feed me enough food so I'm not hungry! (I would eat breakfast or brunch food at 8PM too).
    I would eat anything (except red meat or poultry) any time!

    We were going to go the same route as @CaitFins with appetizers in the afternoon (no alcohol though) but it turned out to be cheaper for us to do more of a tea/luncheon type reception. 

    I've been to a lot of business events with cocktails and heavy appetizers in the evening (even occasionally in the afternoon) but they may not be common in many people's social circles. Maybe it's a regional thing?
  • Viczaesar said:
    CMGragain said:
    Viczaesar said:
    CMGragain said:
    MobKaz said:
    Viczaesar said:
    Ironring said:
    CMGragain said:
    I just researched cocktail parties to make sure my information was not out of date, and it isn't.
    Cocktail parties are not wedding receptions.  Wedding receptions are not cocktail parties.
    Maybe this is just a miscommunication in titles. But I've been to many (and heard about many) cocktail wedding receptions. It's exactly as described by the OP and @SP29. There's been no issues with the guests understanding what it is. 
    And there is nothing wrong with it as long as it's not at a meal time, or if it's at a meal time there's enough food to constitute a meal.
    In another thread, OP states her ceremony is at 1:30 PM.  She stated that the length of the reception was intended to end prior to the start of an expected meal time.  Works for me.  Sounds lovely.
    Great!  This is a cake and punch reception (technically a tea reception) where cocktails are being served.  It is simply a misnomer.
    No, there are not "cocktail wedding receptions", but yes, there are lots of receptions where cocktails are served.  The OP is fine with her plans!  Timing is everything!
    No, I don't think is is.  If there are cocktails and nibbles it's a cocktail reception.  There may or may not be cake, punch, or tea.  Why are you so hung up on the name?  Why do you think a cocktail reception can't be in the afternoon?
    Can luncheon be at 8:00 PM?  Can breakfast be at midnight?  Mid afternoon is tea time.
    There is no such thing as a "cocktail reception".  There is a cocktail hour that can be held before a reception.  Cocktails are mixed drinks, and they can be served at any time, but by old school rules, after 5:00 PM.  I'm not holding on to old school rules here.
    Many young people do not understand what a cocktail party actually is.  I posted a link on a good definition earlier.  Cocktails can be served at any kind of party, but that doesn't make them "cocktail parties" unless they fit the definition.  ONE HOUR.
    I attended a few when I lived in the Washington, DC area. Out here in the west, they are unknown.
    As I said, there is nothing wrong with the OP's plans, now that I know what time of day her reception is being held.
    What, no cake?
    Nope.  I reject your definition that a cocktail party can only be an hour long.  Also, please don't make sweeping generalizations about young people or "the west."  California girl born and bred here, and yes, we do have cocktail parties on the west coast.  They are far from unknown.  There would be absolutely nothing wrong with having a mid-afternoon, multi-hour cocktail reception. 
    Oh, WOW!  California is in the west?  Here in Colorado we think of it as a foreign country!  Just  kidding, really.

    I think this discussion has been very enlightening, and I applaud you ladies for having a disagreement without turning nasty.  I think many of you have excellent points.
    I still like old school etiquette.  Just a few weeks ago, I was asked to design the invitation for a tea party for one of the social organizations I belong to.  Yes, old school is still with us, but you young ladies are doing your own thing, and it hurts no one.
    In the old school, people knew exactly what to expect given the time of day.  Today it is more complicated, given the newer practices.
    Thank you, everybody, for your input.  I live and learn.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    SP29ernursej
  • CMGragain said:
    Viczaesar said:
    CMGragain said:
    Viczaesar said:
    CMGragain said:
    MobKaz said:
    Viczaesar said:
    Ironring said:
    CMGragain said:
    I just researched cocktail parties to make sure my information was not out of date, and it isn't.
    Cocktail parties are not wedding receptions.  Wedding receptions are not cocktail parties.
    Maybe this is just a miscommunication in titles. But I've been to many (and heard about many) cocktail wedding receptions. It's exactly as described by the OP and @SP29. There's been no issues with the guests understanding what it is. 
    And there is nothing wrong with it as long as it's not at a meal time, or if it's at a meal time there's enough food to constitute a meal.
    In another thread, OP states her ceremony is at 1:30 PM.  She stated that the length of the reception was intended to end prior to the start of an expected meal time.  Works for me.  Sounds lovely.
    Great!  This is a cake and punch reception (technically a tea reception) where cocktails are being served.  It is simply a misnomer.
    No, there are not "cocktail wedding receptions", but yes, there are lots of receptions where cocktails are served.  The OP is fine with her plans!  Timing is everything!
    No, I don't think is is.  If there are cocktails and nibbles it's a cocktail reception.  There may or may not be cake, punch, or tea.  Why are you so hung up on the name?  Why do you think a cocktail reception can't be in the afternoon?
    Can luncheon be at 8:00 PM?  Can breakfast be at midnight?  Mid afternoon is tea time.
    There is no such thing as a "cocktail reception".  There is a cocktail hour that can be held before a reception.  Cocktails are mixed drinks, and they can be served at any time, but by old school rules, after 5:00 PM.  I'm not holding on to old school rules here.
    Many young people do not understand what a cocktail party actually is.  I posted a link on a good definition earlier.  Cocktails can be served at any kind of party, but that doesn't make them "cocktail parties" unless they fit the definition.  ONE HOUR.
    I attended a few when I lived in the Washington, DC area. Out here in the west, they are unknown.
    As I said, there is nothing wrong with the OP's plans, now that I know what time of day her reception is being held.
    What, no cake?
    Nope.  I reject your definition that a cocktail party can only be an hour long.  Also, please don't make sweeping generalizations about young people or "the west."  California girl born and bred here, and yes, we do have cocktail parties on the west coast.  They are far from unknown.  There would be absolutely nothing wrong with having a mid-afternoon, multi-hour cocktail reception. 
    Oh, WOW!  California is in the west?  Here in Colorado we think of it as a foreign country!  Just  kidding, really.

    I think this discussion has been very enlightening, and I applaud you ladies for having a disagreement without turning nasty.  I think many of you have excellent points.
    I still like old school etiquette.  Just a few weeks ago, I was asked to design the invitation for a tea party for one of the social organizations I belong to.  Yes, old school is still with us, but you young ladies are doing your own thing, and it hurts no one.
    In the old school, people knew exactly what to expect given the time of day.  Today it is more complicated, given the newer practices.
    Thank you, everybody, for your input.  I live and learn.
    Is it really new??  I grew up with Christmas dinner starting at 3 PM.    
    Knottie1474266468
  • I think people will just go with the flow and be happy to celebrate with you. no matter how long. People do weird not etiquette stuff at weddings all the time. Even if something did originally mean one hour or at a time of day - not everyone knows these rules. What is traditional for one might and clearly is really different to another. Were having the dinner of the reception before the ceremony weird for some but it works for us and thats whats important.

     I think its a good idea to explain how much food to expect for guest - should they have eaten before or expect to need to after? I went to an afternoon tea wedding that was lovely but a big group or us all went out for dinner after because we were so hungry - so best to make sure the guest are clued in. Maybe you can put in on your website if you don't want to put in on the invite.

    I think the idea to have some photos before is great and then have a small receiving line is the best idea - means you know you'll see everyone, if it cocktail you might try to go to all the tables and find that people are also moving about at the same time and you miss them.

    If the line is just you two I think it will go quick depending on your numbers. I went to a wedding recently with around 60 guest and I was at the back of the line and only waited 10 to 15 minutes I think. So it wont take up all your time. It will give the photographer time to set up and get all the people the need organised whilst you do it.
  • Initially I wanted to just do table visits, however, I’m warming up to the idea of a receiving line tbh.
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