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Reception Ideas

Cocktail Reception

Hello all -


I am in them midst of planning my wedding for next year. Due to having a new job at a new location, I am trying to complete a lot of the work this summer.

We have found the perfect location! And they have been wonderful with everything, including deposits and payments.

Onto the issue.....We are having a late wedding about 6pm. I will be stating on the invitation that we are having hearty appetizers, not a full sit down meal. It's just not what we as a couple want, we want that jazzy club feel. We are having a small intimate wedding , around 60 guests, so that we will be able to have a more elegant level of food and drink.

My question is, we get one hour of free hosting for a bar and after the free hour we were going to serve sangria (two kinds, a white and red) and have a non hosted bar. I feel like this is serving both purposes well. Will this seem tacky? Most of our guests understand how expensive things can be so, I'm not worried about them.

We are also planning on having a dessert table, lots of my families recipes for pies and cakes as well. I have been looking for elegant pie pans and cake stands. Its amazing what you can find at TJMAXX!!!!

Re: Cocktail Reception

  • edited June 2012
    A couple things:

    1) heavy apps are fine if they are truly heavy apps and would equal a meal, since you are having your wedding at a meal time

    2) Host what you can afford for the WHOLE night. You could just do beer and wine all night if you want. But please don't put a time limit on the open bar. This can put your guests in a very awkward and embarrassing situation. They go to get a beer at 630 and it's free. Then at 715 they go up and are asked for money. That puts them in an awkward spot of possibly inquiring why they have to pay now, etc. Besides that, I have seen limited open bars that were publicized, and guests would literally stockpile drinks while they were free, so the B&G didn't end up saving hardly any money anyways because people would buy 4 or 5 drinks in a short period of time and then just keep them and drink them later, after the open bar was closed.

    So yes, limited open bar is not good. Host what you can afford and host it for the entirety of the evening.

    ETA: And please remember that though it is your wedding day, the reception is a thank you to your guests and as the hosts, you need to keep their comfort in mind. You mentioned a couple of times that "this is what we want to do" or "guests probably won't mind so we aren't worried about it." Your guests' feelings and comfort should be your first concern.


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  • Ditto Summer, word for word.
  • 6pm is not a late wedding.  That is dinner time.  I would have enough heavy apps to fill people up for a meal, I cannot tell if that is already what you are planning.  You should also have enough seats for every person to put their stuff down and sit.  

    I would just serve wine and beer all night, plus your sangria.  Don't have a cash bar, and I wouldn't like it if the offerings changed throughout the night.  

  • I was initially going to do appetizers with a 6pm start time for my ceremony. But when I mean appetizers, it was definitely going to be enough for a full meal. We're talking about 7 dozen of each appetizer (for 50 people) and about 12 selection of apps, plus two displays. 
    However, I changed venues therefore, the apps went out the door and I'm now having a six course meal.

    Changing venues also allowed me to have an open bar (we selected beer and wine only). Initially we were going to skip the bar because we couldn't afford it. SO glad this has changed (the old venue was $9+ for each drink, and $7 for beer). No host bars in my area are common and I've been to a few weddings that were this way, but it's not what I want to offer my guests. I suggest just hosting what you can afford, for the night.

    Imagine being at a wedding, and going to get a glass of wine as the reception is starting. You finish it and go to get another glass, and you're asked to pay for it, completely not expecting it...
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  • lgoin1lgoin1 member
    100 Comments First Anniversary
    I had to bump up my reception to 6 p.m. too due to venue constraints, and have heavy appetizers although it'll have more of a tapas feel, rather than hors d'oeuvres or appetizers, so I getcha there. But I agree with the others re: the bar.  It's a little awkward.  How about just serving sangria the entire time or just beer etc. rather than doing a one-hour hosted bar?
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  • Thank you for all your suggestions.

    The plan we are purchasing, comes with an one hour hosted cocktail time. Then they serve wine whatever we want.

    We are planing on serving enough food for it to be considered a dinner with stations. We are going to have enough cocktail tables in side and outside with more than enough chairs. We have bought a package and they are being more than accomondating to our requests. We don't want to have a stuffy sit down dinner, that's great for folks who want them but that is not us. We have been together for 10 years and this is a celebration of the time we have put in and the happiness of our future. It is a small wedding (60), family and chosen family and they realize the costs of events. We are in no way trying to put on a wedding outside our means since its just on us, and not our parents, etc. The day will be amazing and we are now even considering doing signature drinks to further keep the costs down.

    We actually choose this hotel for a variety of reasons, ceremony and reception will take place in the ballroom, they have chairs that are comfortable for all sizes and since I'm a plus size bride that was VERY important to me.  The venue is outright beautiful and will be everything that we want, since they are including the courtyard in the price, guests will have an area to go cool down after dancing.

    We are considering our guests in every aspect of this wedding, and even our wedding party. Keeping it simple with the request, wear a black dress you feel sexy in (not a hoochie), we will provide the accessories, wear a black suit, we will provide the accessories. Our families are here to celebrate with us and are excited for us. I think its interesting how someone can just assume that because I say "we", I'm not thinking of our guests.

    Again thank you for your advice.

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