Wedding Reception Forum

Cake and Punch Reception

My fiancé and I are having a very casual wedding with under one hundred guests. We are planning on an early afternoon cake and punch styled reception, but are unsure how exactly to go about seating.

For such a casual event, we aren't planning on getting tables to accommodate every guest in attendance, since it will not be a sit-down formal meal. We will have more than enough seating from the ceremony site only a few feet from where we plan to place a few tables, so no one will be left standing.

Has anyone else done this with this sort of reception? If so, how did it turn out with your guests?
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Re: Cake and Punch Reception

  • My fiancé and I are having a very casual wedding with under one hundred guests. We are planning on an early afternoon cake and punch styled reception, but are unsure how exactly to go about seating. For such a casual event, we aren't planning on getting tables to accommodate every guest in attendance, since it will not be a sit-down formal meal. We will have more than enough seating from the ceremony site only a few feet from where we plan to place a few tables, so no one will be left standing. Has anyone else done this with this sort of reception? If so, how did it turn out with your guests?
    I would encourage you to have plenty of tables to accommodate guests, especially if you are providing drinks and food because many people will not want to stand and eat or attempt to balance their items on their lap. Pair that with a dress, heels and purse that would be pretty difficult to do. I went to a wedding recently where everyone sat at their table while they watched the ceremony and that was perfectly fine (the heat however was not).
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    HeffalumpJen4948MesmrEweInLoveInQueens
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    My fiancé and I are having a very casual wedding with under one hundred guests. We are planning on an early afternoon cake and punch styled reception, but are unsure how exactly to go about seating.

    For such a casual event, we aren't planning on getting tables to accommodate every guest in attendance, since it will not be a sit-down formal meal. We will have more than enough seating from the ceremony site only a few feet from where we plan to place a few tables, so no one will be left standing.

    Has anyone else done this with this sort of reception? If so, how did it turn out with your guests?

    Even if your wedding is casual, having enough tables for all your guests to sit at is a must.

    It's really awkward for guests to have to stand while trying to manage purses, plates, utensils, and glasses, especially while dressed up. And for anyone who needs to sit for medical reasons, not having a seat at a table for them just won't work. And remember: not all medical situations requiring seats are visible.
  • Please have tables for all of your guests. It's a pain to balance holding food and drinks without having a place to set something down. What am I supposed to do with my glass of punch while I try to take a bite of cake with a fork? 

    Also you mention that you'll be using the chairs from the ceremony site. Who will be moving them to the reception setup? Please hire someone to do this and don't make your guests/wedding party do this.

    Finally while you don't need to have assigned seating I recommend at least assigning tables. My husband and I went to a wedding earlier this year which didn't assign tables and we didn't know anyone else so it was really awkward to find a place to sit. If you don't assign tables make sure you have extra seating so that people don't feel the need to "reserve" tables and make it so that some guests feel like there is no where to sit.
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  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited December 2015
    What are you using for plates and cups?  If you have those glass lap trays with cup holder, it would be OK, but otherwise, I think you need tables.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-ANTIQUE-GLASS-SERVING-TEA-SNACK-TRAYS-WITH-CUPS-TEARDROP-DESIGN-14-Sets-/131669914227?hash=item1ea8237273:g:18IAAOSwAKxWUm~v

    Churches sometimes have these.  I have about 24, myself, for parties.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    particuliersylphe
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    I would not stay at a reception that didn't have a place for me to sit down at a table and eat, even if it was just cake and punch. Balancing my plate, my glass, my fork, and my purse while dressed up in heels is not something I would care to do.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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  • You certainly don't need assigned seating for a cake and punch reception (just have more tables and chairs than your guest list so there are options and no awkward "We're a couple, but there's only one seat there and one seat across the room" situations).  But you do need tables for everyone.  It's horribly awkward and uncouth bending all the way over (from standing or seated) to pick up your punch glass from the floor where you had to put it because you actually wanted to take a bite of your cake.  It's also easier for people to accidentally kick over their drinks, trip over purses, etc. when you don't actually have a proper place for them to set them because they will end up on the floor or balanced precariously on a chair otherwise.
    MyNameIsNot
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    jacques27 said:
    You certainly don't need assigned seating for a cake and punch reception (just have more tables and chairs than your guest list so there are options and no awkward "We're a couple, but there's only one seat there and one seat across the room" situations).  But you do need tables for everyone.  It's horribly awkward and uncouth bending all the way over (from standing or seated) to pick up your punch glass from the floor where you had to put it because you actually wanted to take a bite of your cake.  It's also easier for people to accidentally kick over their drinks, trip over purses, etc. when you don't actually have a proper place for them to set them because they will end up on the floor or balanced precariously on a chair otherwise.
    I strongly disagree with the bolded.

    People "reserve" seats just as much at other types of receptions as they do for seated meals, and it's just as unpleasant to have to walk around looking for available seats at cake and punch receptions as at full-meal or cocktail receptions.  More so, in fact, because you're carrying a cup, plate of food, utensils, and beverages while dressed up, perhaps along with a handbag, at these types of receptions.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    jacques27 said:


    Jen4948 said:


    jacques27 said:

    You certainly don't need assigned seating for a cake and punch reception (just have more tables and chairs than your guest list so there are options and no awkward "We're a couple, but there's only one seat there and one seat across the room" situations).  But you do need tables for everyone.  It's horribly awkward and uncouth bending all the way over (from standing or seated) to pick up your punch glass from the floor where you had to put it because you actually wanted to take a bite of your cake.  It's also easier for people to accidentally kick over their drinks, trip over purses, etc. when you don't actually have a proper place for them to set them because they will end up on the floor or balanced precariously on a chair otherwise.

    I strongly disagree with the bolded.

    People "reserve" seats just as much at other types of receptions as they do for seated meals, and it's just as unpleasant to have to walk around looking for available seats at cake and punch receptions as at full-meal or cocktail receptions.  More so, in fact, because you're carrying a cup, plate of food, utensils, and beverages while dressed up, perhaps along with a handbag, at these types of receptions.

    You've never been to a church luncheon?  Or a booster club pancake breakfast?  Or high school band spaghetti dinner?  Or VFW fish fry? 

    Lots of organizations manage to throw events without assigned seating and people live to tell the tale.  And most of those events are complete strangers, not a wedding where every person has a connection to at least one other person, if not more (even if it's just the bride or groom).  If this were a formal dinner, sure.  But cake and punch?  You can't manage to eat cake and punch at an informal reception without someone telling you where to sit?  I don't know, maybe I just don't associate with many socially awkward assholes - everyone I know is pretty friendly and willing to make room at tables or welcome people to their tables, even my shy friends.


    Whether I've been to those types of occasions or other "informal" occasions is irrelevant.

    And the fact that you have been able to attend cake and punch receptions without assigned tables without having to deal with assholes who reserve seats and prevent others from sitting down who need to sit is not everyone's experience; nor does it cancel out the need for it not to come up. The best way to prevent it is to assign tables - regardless of what is done at church luncheons or other occasions - which are not wedding receptions.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    lyndausvi said:
    I've never attended a cake and punch wedding.   I've only attended weddings with full meals and assigned tables.     

    That said, I would think it's odd to have assigned seats at a cake and punch wedding.  
    It may seem odd, but I think guests are just as likely to need to know that they have a place to sit without having to walk around to look for one at a cake and punch reception as any other type of reception. 

    I was at a cake and punch wedding once where they did assign tables.
  • particuliersylpheparticuliersylphe My heart belongs to Baltimore. member
    100 Comments 100 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    CMGragain said:
    What are you using for plates and cups?  If you have those glass lap trays with cup holder, it would be OK, but otherwise, I think you need tables.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-ANTIQUE-GLASS-SERVING-TEA-SNACK-TRAYS-WITH-CUPS-TEARDROP-DESIGN-14-Sets-/131669914227?hash=item1ea8237273:g:18IAAOSwAKxWUm~v

    Churches sometimes have these.  I have about 24, myself, for parties.
    I want these for the simple reason that I collect 50's dishes and glassware. I have never seen these before and I LOVE them!
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  • I think y'all are being cray here. You don't need seating for every guest, or tables, or assigned seating for cake and punch. The whole point is that it's informal and short. If after an hour your feet hurt, you just leave!
    holyguacamole79KnottieTaylorBostonLilly12
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    I think y'all are being cray here. You don't need seating for every guest, or tables, or assigned seating for cake and punch. The whole point is that it's informal and short. If after an hour your feet hurt, you just leave!

    If the purpose of a wedding reception, regardless of how it is, is to thank guests for attending the ceremony, how exactly is not providing enough seating, along with the bolded message, consistent with that purpose?

    Informality is not an excuse for treating guests like expendable shit and telling them, "If you don't like it, just leave" because you (generic) are too cheap or lazy to properly host them.

    Sufficient seating for everyone and making sure that guests don't have to wander around looking for places to sit are elements of Hosting 101.
    particuliersylpheInLoveInQueens
  • Jen4948 said:
    My fiancé and I are having a very casual wedding with under one hundred guests. We are planning on an early afternoon cake and punch styled reception, but are unsure how exactly to go about seating. For such a casual event, we aren't planning on getting tables to accommodate every guest in attendance, since it will not be a sit-down formal meal. We will have more than enough seating from the ceremony site only a few feet from where we plan to place a few tables, so no one will be left standing. Has anyone else done this with this sort of reception? If so, how did it turn out with your guests?
    Even if your wedding is casual, having enough tables for all your guests to sit at is a must. It's really awkward for guests to have to stand while trying to manage purses, plates, utensils, and glasses, especially while dressed up. And for anyone who needs to sit for medical reasons, not having a seat at a table for them just won't work. And remember: not all medical situations requiring seats are visible.
    THIS-I am 32, and had a stroke 6 yrs ago.  I still have limited mobility of my left hand, so it's IMPOSSIBLE for me to hold a plate of food in my left hand and a drink in my right.  If I was a guest at your wedding and didn't have a table to sit down at to place my food AND drink, to enjoy comfortably, I would feel very uncomfortable, probably embarrassed, and would definitely leave the reception early. 
    Please have tables and chairs for ALL of your guests.  I could be the SO of one of your guests, so you wouldn't be aware of my mobility issue (like a close friend of mine would).  Don't risk making any of your guests uncomfortable.
    [Deleted User]MesmrEweInLoveInQueenssparklepants41
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I think y'all are being cray here. You don't need seating for every guest, or tables, or assigned seating for cake and punch. The whole point is that it's informal and short. If after an hour your feet hurt, you just leave!
    Exactly.

    I worked weddings often.   Cake and punch receptions are like cocktail hours.  They last an hour, 2 max.  Most people are NOT sitting the entire time (even though there are seats available).   They are mostly walking around mingling and having small talk.

    I don't even think you need a seat for everyone.   For ever guest who needs a seat you will have 1-2 that are like my DH and his friends who will not sit at all for such a short event.  Or if they do, it's just for a few minutes.  Even in heels I myself rarely sit or if I do it's for a short time.   Mostly I'm standing.   I'm not the only female standing either.

    At least in my experience the amount of people who need seats do not represent the general population.   I've seen many seats go unused at these types of things.    I'm not suggesting no seats, just saying assigned seats are not necessary for this type of event.

    Full meal,  I'm all about assigned tables.










    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
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  • I would also agree that chairs and tables are a must, but assigned seating not required.

    Cake and punch is more like a cocktail reception. Guest should be able to sit and eat their piece of cake, or whatever, but the idea is that guests are moving around and mingling, not sitting in the same spot for 2 hours. 

    OP- I would hire someone to move the ceremony chairs to the reception space where you have tables already set up. 
    MesmrEwe
  • lyndausvi said:



    I think y'all are being cray here. You don't need seating for every guest, or tables, or assigned seating for cake and punch. The whole point is that it's informal and short. If after an hour your feet hurt, you just leave!

    Exactly.

    I worked weddings often.   Cake and punch receptions are like cocktail hours.  They last an hour, 2 max.  Most people are NOT sitting the entire time (even though there are seats available).   They are mostly walking around mingling and having small talk.

    I don't even think you need a seat for everyone.   For ever guest who needs a seat you will have 1-2 that are like my DH and his friends who will not sit at all for such a short event.  Or if they do, it's just for a few minutes.  Even in heels I myself rarely sit or if I do it's for a short time.   Mostly I'm standing.   I'm not the only female standing either.

    At least in my experience the amount of people who need seats do not represent the general population.   I've seen many seats go unused at these types of things.    I'm not suggesting no seats, just saying assigned seats are not necessary for this type of event.

    Full meal,  I'm all about assigned tables.







    Yup. Or, ya know, we're just treating our guests like expendible shit. Cause that's not an absolutely bat shit exaggeration.

    Last night I had 25 people in my apt. And only 5 chairs. Basically, I assaulted them.
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I've been to several cake and punch receptions, mostly in church halls. They were pretty informal, and assigned seating would have been out of place.

    Still, I would find it really rude to have insufficient seating/tables for the guests. Cake and punch are not like cocktail hour, because there are no cocktails. The vibe is different. Guests do mingle and chat, but they also sit down and enjoy ]cake. In my experience, people would sit at tables and chat, and then move around and go sit and chat next to someone else. Having limited seating would have pushed those without spots along the walls or out the door, not into mingling in the open spaces.

    Add me to the list of sufficient seating/tables, no seating assignments. 
    [Deleted User]InLoveInQueensLiatris2010
  • julieanne912julieanne912 member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited December 2015
    I think if you don't have enough seats, you should at least do some cocktail style tables where people can stand and set their plates/drinks down.  

    My BFF had a cocktail style party in a gallery space after her wedding since she had a destination wedding in Belize.  There weren't enough tables/chairs for everyone to sit down all at once (there were maybe half the amount of guests worth of chairs at tables for people to sit) and it was perfectly fine as she had seating scattered throughout the space, and lots of cocktail tables for people to land at temporarily.  
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  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2015
    To me, attending a cake & punch reception would be on a similar formality scale as attending a cake & punch reception for a baptism or graduation. You show up, get your food, mingle, and call it a day. There's no need for it to be much more than 90 minutes. 2 hours tops. You're not going to be sitting long enough to care if you know the others at the table. Assigned seats is absolutely unnecessary
    MesmrEweSTARMOON44CMGragainSP29
  • Thinking "if I were a guest" - moving my chair from feet away from the ceremony to where tables are wouldn't bother me, side-eye a hint maybe, but that really wouldn't bug me.  Trying to balance a plate of cake, drink, my purse, DS, and DD, trying to consume said items gracefully, without having a table to set it down on - I'd be PO'd and beyond side-eye.. 

    OP Assigned seating for such a casual event is over the top IMO when you're just trying to figure out "should I bother getting enough tables"...  Yes, get enough tables!

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  • KnottieTaylorKnottieTaylor member
    10 Comments Name Dropper
    edited December 2015
    Just to clarify, we are not planning on assigned seating at all.

    Just looking for advice from those who may have been short on tables and how their reception went.

    Thanks!
  • Just to clarify, we are not planning on assigned seating at all. Just looking for advice from those who may have been short on tables and how their reception went. Thanks!
    It is against etiquette to not provide a seat and a spot at a table for every guest at an event you are hosting. Failing to provide for your guests' needs that way tends to result in people leaving early and/or claiming one of the few spots and not mixing and mingling for fear of losing it.
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    MesmrEwe
  • Affordability wasn't mentioned, so it's inappropriate of you to assume this is the issue. Point blank, there is no issue.

    We're just looking for advice from those who decided it best to not seat everyone at once at formal table settings. We know our crowd. It's a small casual crowd who will mingle just fine.

    Thanks!
  • There will be a chair for every person, my post regards formal seating for everyone.

    Thanks!
  • Affordability wasn't mentioned, so it's inappropriate of you to assume this is the issue. Point blank, there is no issue. We're just looking for advice from those who decided it best to not seat everyone at once at formal table settings. We know our crowd. It's a small casual crowd who will mingle just fine. Thanks!
    If affordability isn't an issue, then there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that you shouldn't have enough tables. None. Nada. Zip. What could the reason possibly be? You enjoy watching friends and family walking around holding their meal and drinks?
    InLoveInQueensMesmrEwe
  • There will be a chair for every person, my post regards formal seating for everyone. Thanks!
    You also needs tables for all of your guests. No you don't need a seating chart for this. However the point of my post before was to say if you aren't assigning tables (which is OK) have a few extra seats and tables so that people don't feel awkward finding an open spot to mingle or get split up because people "reserved" tables. So if you have 100 guests have like 110 seats and however many extra tables those seats require. 
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    kimmiinthemittenInLoveInQueens
  • There will be a chair for every person, my post regards formal seating for everyone. Thanks!
    You also needs tables for all of your guests. No you don't need a seating chart for this. However the point of my post before was to say if you aren't assigning tables (which is OK) have a few extra seats and tables so that people don't feel awkward finding an open spot to mingle or get split up because people "reserved" tables. So if you have 100 guests have like 110 seats and however many extra tables those seats require. 
    This. Your laid back social friends are going to flit from table to table to mingle. This means you need more tables and chairs than guests, not fewer.
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    [Deleted User]MesmrEweSP29
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