Wedding Reception Forum

cocktail style reception

we have been tossing around the idea of a cocktail style reception.  i know there are a lot of opinions on this, but seating seems to be the one sticking point.  

i'd like to know from fellow forum members who have had cocktail style receptions, what percent of your guests had seats?  we were thinking 160 seats for 240 guests.  most guests are 20-30 or laid back family members.  

there will be plenty of food and stations and all, but the seating is becoming a point of discomfort.  i know there are a lot of people who don't like not having the exact number of seats, and i get that, but we are just looking for forum members who have already had cocktail receptions and were wondering how many seats you had, and how many you think you should have had.

thanks!

Re: cocktail style reception

  • You need a seat for every person. When you don't have enough seats, those who were lucky enough to get a seat first won't budge from it all night because they know that it will be gone as soon as they get up. Those who didn't get a seat will be standing around staring at everyone hoping someone gets up. Do this. Go get dressed, put on some heels. And go stand in your kitchen for 34 hours and don't sit down.
  • Agree with PPs.  You need a seat for everyone, regardless.  I'm in the same age range as the majority of your guests.  I also have back and neck issues that make standing for prolonged periods of time incredibly uncomfortable (even occassionally when I wear flats). 

    DH and I attended a wedding about three years ago that had an incredibly long cocktail "hour" with no chairs.  By the time guests were admitted to the reception room and allowed to sit, no one wanted to get back up.  The bride and groom were incredibly disappointed no one was up and dancing right away but after almost two hours standing, everyone needed a break.
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  • thank you all for your off-topic comments that did not answer my question.  i get that certain people feel that there should be a seat for every ample posterior, but we don't.  

    we're cultivating a different atmosphere; i have been to many events, in heels, where i did not have a seat the entire evening.  we are offerring 60-75% seating and a more party atmosphere than a dinner reception.

    to reiterate, i am looking for replies from people who have had cocktail style receptions.  if you have had a reception like this, please tel me how many seats vs. guests you had and if you thought you should have had more or less than that.

    thank you.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:0884c7e4-95fe-4e9f-b2d0-a61f7d77789d">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]thank you all for your off-topic comments that did not answer my question.  i get that certain people feel that there should be a seat for every ample posterior, but we don't.   we're cultivating a different atmosphere; i have been to many events, in heels, where i did not have a seat the entire evening.  we are offerring 60-75% seating and a more party atmosphere than a dinner reception. to reiterate, i am looking for replies from people who have had cocktail style receptions.  if you have had a reception like this, please tel me how many seats vs. guests you had and if you thought you should have had more or less than that. thank you.
    Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]

    <div>How are these comments off-topic?  Nevermind the fact that this is a public message board and people can post what they want, it seems you got useful comments.  Why are you only interested in the comments of brides that did this and not guests that have experienced this?  </div>
  • well since i've been told i lack common sense, mysogynistically told to go stand in the kitchen "for 34 hours", and informed that i'm treating my guests like crap, all without getting a signle reply from someone who has been to or hosted a cocktail recption, i think i've got everything i need from here.

    i was told that theknot boards were full of angry, snarky, non-constructive people, and you have all helped to prove that.

    thanks again!
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:0884c7e4-95fe-4e9f-b2d0-a61f7d77789d">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]thank you all for your off-topic comments that did not answer my question.  i get that certain people feel that there should be a seat for every ample posterior, but we don't.   we're cultivating a different atmosphere; i have been to many events, in heels, where i did not have a seat the entire evening.  we are offerring 60-75% seating and a more party atmosphere than a dinner reception. to reiterate, i am looking for replies from people who have had cocktail style receptions.  if you have had a reception like this, please tel me how many seats vs. guests you had and if you thought you should have had more or less than that. thank you.
    Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]

    Are you serious?  I went to a cocktail like reception where the bride and groom did this (groom was my nephew).  I had given birth 2 days before, and like others have posted, once someone got a seat, NO ONE was getting up because there wasn't enough seating.  So I was left standing for over an hour, just had a baby, and NO ONE would give up their seat, until the majority of the people who did not have seats LEFT and we went out to our own dinner. We had a wonderful time talking about how extremely rude the bride and groom were to not provide enough seats for their guests. 

    Go ahead and don't provide enough seating.  I can promise you your guests that you so rudely assume they want to have a "party atmosphere", make them stand, with no where to place a plate or a drink will leave extremely early, and talk about you and your FI for years to come, behind your back, telling everyone they know how they went to a wedding and the selfish and rude bride and groom didn't even have the decency to provide everyone a seat. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:952c07e7-76c3-4d57-ac31-d5b2b0bdabe5">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]well since i've been told i lack common sense, mysogynistically told to go stand in the kitchen "for 34 hours", and informed that i'm treating my guests like crap, all without getting a signle reply from someone who has been to or hosted a cocktail recption, i think i've got everything i need from here. i was told that theknot boards were full of angry, snarky, non-constructive people, and you have all helped to prove that. thanks again!
    Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]

    Another "no one is agreeing with my stupid selfish and rude ideas so I am leaving" poster.  Stomp, stomp, stomp..........
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:952c07e7-76c3-4d57-ac31-d5b2b0bdabe5">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]well since i've been told i lack common sense, mysogynistically told to go stand in the kitchen "for 34 hours", and informed that i'm treating my guests like crap, all without getting a signle reply from someone who has been to or hosted a cocktail recption, i think i've got everything i need from here. i was told that theknot boards were full of angry, snarky, non-constructive people, and you have all helped to prove that. thanks again!
    Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]

    Climb out of your snark hole and realize that these posters who have had to stand for 3 - 4 hours, yes 34 was either a typo or a mobile glitch, are telling you no. It's a bad idea.
  • misshart00misshart00 Oklahoma member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    I had a cocktail style dessert reception. We had about 250 people and just under 300 chairs. Make your guest comfortable.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its

    If you are planning on having a 1-2 hour cocktail reception and you know your guests you can get away with 75-80% seating.    Not only have I worked such events , I've attend just as many (weddings/corporate/charity/ gallery openings, etc).   There are always empty seats even though there was not a seat for everyone.      At least in my crowd.  Yours might be different.

    Some people perfer to mill around the room.  I know I do, as most of my friends.   It's just how we socialize.  This is not just "they are laid-back".  It's based on years of attending events with them that I know how they are.      Others like (or need) to stay in one spot.  My mom' family is like that.  They walk in, get a seat and never move.  Sometimes it's out of necessity because of age and/or a medical condition. 

     That said, do not think you can have a 4 hour reception without seats for everyone.  Not going to happen.  Open houses type parties or company parites where everyone comes and goes it works.  4 hour receptions? no.   If you do not want 100% seating you need to cut your reception to 2 hours or less.

    What you can do is have a good mix of different types of seats.   High top tables so those who want to stand have a place to put stuff.   Have some large tables, small bistro tables, bench seats, sofas.   Mix it up so you can still have the cocktail feel, but people still have a place to sit.







    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. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:670e138d-f5ca-46a7-a9b3-3dc8ba70f2db">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: cocktail style reception : TK mobile doesn't recognize most special characters, so I'm guessing <strong>cmgilpin wrote 3-4 and TK took the dash out.
    </strong>Posted by StageManager14[/QUOTE]

    Yep. that's what happened.  I'm pretty sure no logically thinking person would believe I was telling them to stand up for 34 hours. 

    And as far as the standing in the kitchen thing goes, I picked kitchen, because they are the room in most homes that have similar flooring to clubs/bars/lounges.  Most kitchens have tile/hardwood/etc.  Most bars have similar flooring.  If it makes the OP feel better, go stand in the garage, on the patio, or pretty much anywhere for a few hours.

    Also, OP is MUCH more likely to get the casual, mingling cocktail style reception she is hoping for if there IS a chair for every person.  People are more likely to mingle and socialize when they know they have a home base to return to.
  • In Response to Re:cocktail style reception:[QUOTE]thank you all for your offtopic comments that did not answer my question. nbsp;i get that certain people feel that there should be a seat for every ample posterior, but we don't. nbsp;we're cultivating a different atmosphere; i have been to many events, in heels, where i did not have a seat the entire evening. nbsp;we are offerring 6075 seating and a more party atmosphere than a dinner reception.to reiterate, i am looking for replies from people who have had cocktail style receptions. nbsp;if you have had a reception like this, please tel me how many seats vs. guests you had and if you thought you should have had more or less than that.thank you. Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]

    To answer your question, I had a cocktail style wedding celebration party. Wine tasting, heavy hors d'oeuvres, etc. We had about 90 guests attend. We had 100 chairs. We also did have some tall "standing" tables, but most people preferred sitting down.
  • In Response to Re:cocktail style reception:[QUOTE]thank you all for your offtopic comments that did not answer my question. nbsp;i get that certain people feel that there should be a seat for every ample posterior, but we don't. nbsp;we're cultivating a different atmosphere; i have been to many events, in heels, where i did not have a seat the entire evening. nbsp;we are offerring 6075 seating and a more party atmosphere than a dinner reception.to reiterate, i am looking for replies from people who have had cocktail style receptions. nbsp;if you have had a reception like this, please tel me how many seats vs. guests you had and if you thought you should have had more or less than that.thank you. Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]

    To answer your question, I had a cocktail style wedding celebration party. Wine tasting, heavy hors d'oeuvres, etc. We had about 90 guests attend. We had 100 chairs. We also did have some tall "standing" tables, but most people preferred seats.
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I went to a company cocktail reception (not a wedding but rather a corporate event).  They had high-tops and very little seating.  After about 2 hours of standing in heels I was close to tears.  All I wanted was to sit down and rest my weary feet.  But since there were no chairs, the only choice I had was to sit on the toilet, take off my shoes, and prop my feet up against the bathroon stall door.  Not exactly the way people really want to spend their time at any event.

    Bottom line.  Have enough seats for everyone.  Like Lynda suggested, the seating does not have to all be the same.  Provided couches and plush chairs, bar stools for high-tops and regular chairs around lower cocktail tables.  Think about clubs you have been in, since you want a more party type atmosphere, and think about hte mix of seating they provided.

  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:0884c7e4-95fe-4e9f-b2d0-a61f7d77789d">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]thank you all for your off-topic comments that did not answer my question.  i get that certain people feel that there should be a seat for every ample posterior, but we don't.   we're cultivating a different atmosphere; i have been to many events, in heels, where i did not have a seat the entire evening.  we are offerring 60-75% seating and a more party atmosphere than a dinner reception. to reiterate, i am looking for replies from people who have had cocktail style receptions.  if you have had a reception like this, please tel me how many seats vs. guests you had and if you thought you should have had more or less than that. thank you.
    Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]

    i see aboslutely no correlation between not having enough seats and whatever atmosphere you're going for. 

    i too have been to many events where i was stuck in heels with nowhere to sit. you know what? it blows. they all do. as a guest at a wedding-where someone is throwing a reception for me and the other guests-yes-you need to have a seat for every butt.

    frankly-i'm in pretty great shape. but no way would i want to teeter around in my heels, my wrap, my drink, my plate and my bag all while standing for hours. i'd go home.

    but that's me. do what you want.

     

  • SKPMSKPM member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary First Answer
    edited March 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:0e81ea44-3846-4201-a6f5-caa5d70b8944">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]Provide couches and plush chairs, bar stools for high-tops and regular chairs around lower cocktail tables.  Think about clubs you have been in, since you want a more party type atmosphere, and think about hte mix of seating they provided.
    Posted by Maggie0829[/QUOTE]

    This. When brides have open seating dinners, it is recommended to have 10% more seating than guests, since people will stick in their groups. This is a similar concept. Not only do you need enough seats for everyone, I would have extras also so people can pull up a seat to sit with their friends and still feel like they can move around the room without worrying about never finding a seat again.

    photo fancy-as-fuck.jpg
  • I've been to two "cocktail style" receptions where there were not enough chairs for every guest.  The only "atmosphere" it created was people being uncomfortable and people complaining about the lack of seating for everyone years later. 

    Aside from that, as soon as people do find seats, they plant their butts and never move the rest of the night. 

    HAVE A SEAT FOR EVERY PERSON regardless of what kind of mood you are trying to set.
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_reception-ideas_cocktail-style-reception-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:5Discussion:45847de7-0294-4b90-a4a5-a7210640bfc4Post:952c07e7-76c3-4d57-ac31-d5b2b0bdabe5">Re: cocktail style reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]well since i've been told i lack common sense, mysogynistically told to go stand in the kitchen "for 34 hours", and informed that i'm treating my guests like crap, all without getting a signle reply from someone who has been to or hosted a cocktail recption, i think i've got everything i need from here. i was told that theknot boards were full of angry, snarky, non-constructive people, and you have all helped to prove that. thanks again!
    Posted by emilyandmuzzy[/QUOTE]
    I've been to a cocktail reception.  You need a seat for every single damn butt, just like everyone else has said.  Not having enough seating is freakin' miserable.  Also, mysogynistically?  FFS.



  • Apparently OP has had enough of everyone's "rudeness".  Wups. 

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  • AJuliaNJAJuliaNJ member
    1000 Comments 250 Love Its Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited March 2013
    For what reason are you considering having less chairs than people? Can we help you figure out some other solutions?

    Most people, no matter how laid back or young they are, hate standing up to eat while balancing a wine glass. Just because they might not say something about it out of politeness doesn't mean they're not uncomfortable. Also, PPs are right that once people see there aren't enough chairs, they are going to reserve seats for the night with their jackets, purses, etc. So, while your goal might be that people will get up and mingle and different people will have the opportunity to sit throughout the night, the truth is that if you didn't get a seat initially, you probably won't for the whole night.
  • As the PPs have said, to get that party type club feel you want, you need to have enough seats.  No one is going to get up and mingle when they know they will lose their seat, period.

    I had a standard ballroom reception and everyone still mingled--it's what people do at weddings no matter what type of "atmosphere" you try and go for.  But not providing enough seating makes you look cheap. Would you invite 240 people and only provide food for 160?  The logic is the same.
  • This thread was so very helpful!  My FI and I are also having a cocktail reception with stations...He wants not enough seating for everyone and this thread truly illuminates the issue!  THANK YOU!  Too bad OP didn't come back to see the rest of the responses!
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  • I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that OP was planning to have reserved seats for her and her groom, though. Regardless of reception "type" or atmosphere, there needs to be a seat for every butt. We had tables with chairs for everyone in attendance, plus tall cocktail tables, bar stools around the (large) bar, and booths with tables in the bar area. Most of our 200ish guest list mingled and danced.
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