Wedding Reception Forum

Reception Arrangement Problems

It's my first time posting so please forgive any unknown faux pas. 

I've used the search bar a bit and have come to realize that maybe my initial idea of a standing-style cocktail reception isn't going to work like I thought. It's not a cocktail reception because there's no alcohol, but we are going to serve cake and punch and possibly finger foods. I don't want the reception to be very long. Or rather, FH and I will be leaving as soon as possible and I don't care if the guests stay and enjoy themselves or drop in and jet. (When I go to receptions, I'm usually a drop-in-and-go type person, myself.) I don't care about the garter or bouquet tosses, I mostly just want to be able to see everyone, have a first dance, have guests sign our book (or whatever alternative we find to an actual book) MAYBE do a cake cutting, and then do a send off. Short and sweet. 

Money is not the problem, but the reception venue is very significant to us so we really really want to get married there even though our numbers are pushing it. We are inviting around 220, I think that with seated round tables our venue could hold 160-180.

I've already cut the guest list down significantly.

It is acceptable to have a cocktail reception and have tall bar-height tables, plus a few tables + chairs plus LOTS of chairs around the room? There will be enough room for everyone to have a chair or a standing table to eat on -- but not necessarily both. 

If I nix the finger foods, would just serving cake and punch do it? The venue is more important to us than the food, the cost of renting more bar-height tables, or anything else. 

Or do I just need to give up my dream of having the reception at the place that has meant so much to us for the past 7 years? :(
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Re: Reception Arrangement Problems

  • Have enough chairs for every person attending, no one should be left with no option but to stand at a wedding. Have your cake and punch reception at non mealtime in the afternoon and you should be fine. If money isn't the problem, keep the finger food. Your guests will thank you for it.

    Why do you need to have such a large guest list when it doesn't really sound like you are even that keen on having a 'traditional' wedding? From what you are saying I cant fathom why you wouldn't just elope and have something much more intimate. There is no guest list of over 200 that cannot be cut.
                 
    InLoveInQueens
  • What time of day are you getting married? A cake and punch reception is fine, but not at a meal time. If you are getting married at a meal time, you must provide a meal. You must also provide a chair or place for every bum.

    Your reception is a thank you to your guests for coming to see you get married.
  • There would be enough chairs for everyone, just not necessarily at a table. Sorry if that wasn't clear. Anyone and everyone who wants to sit down would have plenty of places to choose from. 

    I do care about the guests. My ideal wedding would be 50-60 people in this venue, but my FH and I both have large families that have already required us to nix a few friends. I would choose the friends who have supported us over the more distant relatives, but that would cause problems with parents (who are involved and helping pay for the wedding). 

    I don't care about a lot of the traditions and I don't mean to sound like I don't care about the guests when I say it will be short and sweet - I have just been to one too many drawn out weddings and know that people mostly (especially in my circles) don't want to be there for hours and hours. 

    Definitely planning on staying away from mealtimes, just wondering about the lack of tables (not a lack of chairs ...).
  • It sounds like your venue is booked already. Have you sent out invitations yet? If not, then try to revise your guest list down to 180 at least. Even if you are not wanting to have a long reception, people will want to sit. In that large guest list there are likely senior guests, guests with health concerns, pregnant women, families with babies/ little kids, or, heck, even just guests like me who will wear heels to look nice, but my feet will be dying. Make sure you can accommodate a place for every single person to rest their rears.

    Do you have any guests traveling to the wedding? I personally would feel a bit let down if I had made a trip to come to the wedding and had to stand around for only a couple hours without any food, drink a ton of punch awkwardly as I watch you do a first dance, and then go home. 
                        


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    [Deleted User]cowgirl8238
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    There would be enough chairs for everyone, just not necessarily at a table. Sorry if that wasn't clear. Anyone and everyone who wants to sit down would have plenty of places to choose from. 

    I do care about the guests. My ideal wedding would be 50-60 people in this venue, but my FH and I both have large families that have already required us to nix a few friends. I would choose the friends who have supported us over the more distant relatives, but that would cause problems with parents (who are involved and helping pay for the wedding). 

    I don't care about a lot of the traditions and I don't mean to sound like I don't care about the guests when I say it will be short and sweet - I have just been to one too many drawn out weddings and know that people mostly (especially in my circles) don't want to be there for hours and hours. 

    Definitely planning on staying away from mealtimes, just wondering about the lack of tables (not a lack of chairs ...).
    Are the majority of your guests local people?  It is absolutely appropriate to host a cake and punch reception as long as it is held during a non meal time.  However, depending on the time of your ceremony, if guests need to travel any long distance, I would encourage you to have some appetizers as well. 

    What are you going to do if your acceptance rate exceeds the capacity limit at this venue?  I don't think "a few" tables is going to be sufficient.  If I have a chair, then that means I am juggling a plate and beverage on my lap.  That is hardly comfortable when wearing cocktail attire.
    CMGragain[Deleted User]cowgirl8238
  • It's not officially booked, I just wanted to do what I could to be able to have it there before I resort to moving it. 

    I just think that if everyone has a place to sit (but not a table to sit at) that that's good, right? With just finger foods and cake and punch? 

    We do have people traveling, mostly family who will probably be the lingerers, to stay and catch up with my future in laws. I'm happy for them to get a chance to see us and hopefully they will be more inclined to get on the dance floor than my side of the family will be. 

    If anyone has any other advice or solutions I'm all ears. Thanks for those who have responded already :smile: 
  • You want dancing at your dry cake and punch reception that will last a couple of hrs tops? I wouldn't expect any dancing at an event like that. Mingling and chatting, sure.
    Care to elaborate? I figured at least some people would dance, but I could be wrong.  :(
  • I would talk respectfully but honestly with your parents. Explain that you are very grateful for their support, and want to honor their wishes and input throughout the planning process. But you are very attached to this certain venue for x reasons, as they know. Unfortunately, it simply will not accommodate the current 220 person guest list, and even if it is possible (or even probable) that not all guests will come, you have to assume they are until you have solid RSVPs. Hence, you either need to find a new venue (which would disappoint you and your fiance) or shorten the guest list by removing some outer circles of relatives.

    Be honest, and see what your parents think. Sounds like they love you, since they want to support your wedding. If they really think it will be a big issue not inviting all extended family, then find a bigger venue. But maybe they will consider the emotional value of this venue to you, and be able to work out a compromise. 
                        


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  • edited January 2016
    Well, its not really a party atmosphere, is it?

    Eta: chatting and mingling at a cake and punch reception that lasts a couple of hrs tops is great! But really, no one is likely to get in the party mood enough to really set fire to the dancefloor.
                 
    STARMOON44InLoveInQueenspoodledoodleooo[Deleted User]
  • Am I crazy to think there is a solution to my problem? :(


    ETA: yes, taking a second look and paring down the guest list more is at the top of the list. I'm planning this wedding from the other side of the world, at least until July so it's difficult to pin down my FH or future in laws or even my own parents to have these conversations. 
  • If the proposed guest list is more than the proposed venue can hold, then the solution is to cut one of them. 

    I know it's not ideal, but I don't think putting a bunch of extra chairs in the room so it is crowded and difficult to chat and mingle is going to be ideal for guests, either. 

    The only other thing I can think of is to talk with the venue, explain your situation, and see if they have any other ideas for how to configure the room to accommodate 220 people, if they even can (fire hazard rules may say no more than 180 anyway, in which case, abide by the rules).
                        


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    InLoveInQueens


  • You want dancing at your dry cake and punch reception that will last a couple of hrs tops? I wouldn't expect any dancing at an event like that. Mingling and chatting, sure.

    Care to elaborate? I figured at least some people would dance, but I could be wrong.  :(

    A cake and punch reception is fine as people have stated above. However, most cake and punch receptions I've been to have been less than 75 people, and definitely no dancing. Also, no bouquet or garter toss.

    I agreed with PPs, use your own money and decide your own guest list.
    InLoveInQueens
  • There would be enough chairs for everyone, just not necessarily at a table. Sorry if that wasn't clear. Anyone and everyone who wants to sit down would have plenty of places to choose from. 

    I do care about the guests. My ideal wedding would be 50-60 people in this venue, but my FH and I both have large families that have already required us to nix a few friends. I would choose the friends who have supported us over the more distant relatives, but that would cause problems with parents (who are involved and helping pay for the wedding).
    If you & your FI can afford a wedding with 50-60 guests, politely decline your parents' offer and plan the sort of wedding you want.

    If you are dependent on your parents' help, explain that their desired guest list leaves you with the options of a] giving up your dream venue, b] cutting even more of your friends, or c] having a rather awkward* arrangement at the reception.

    You said you think your venue could hold 160-180 guests with round tables. Before you talk with your parents, get a hard number from your contact there so you know exactly how many people you'd need to lose. Hopefully a heartfelt discussion can work through whatever problems would be caused by cutting distant relatives so that you don't actually have to exclude any more friends.


    *Not having enough tables isn't as egregious as not having enough chairs, but as others have said it's not remotely convenient for the guests who don't nab a table in time. They'd have to juggle a purse + glass + plate + fork + napkin on their lap or at a tiny bar table. Some would spend most of the time trying not to get icing on their clothes or preparing to pounce the instant another guest gets up from a table rather than celebrating!


    [Deleted User]
  • re: dancing

    Is this an afternoon wedding (between lunch & supper) or a nighttime wedding (after supper)? If it's the former I wouldn't be inclined to dance, but if it's the latter it'd have more of a party atmosphere I think.

  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    It's not officially booked, I just wanted to do what I could to be able to have it there before I resort to moving it. 

    I just think that if everyone has a place to sit (but not a table to sit at) that that's good, right? With just finger foods and cake and punch? 

    We do have people traveling, mostly family who will probably be the lingerers, to stay and catch up with my future in laws. I'm happy for them to get a chance to see us and hopefully they will be more inclined to get on the dance floor than my side of the family will be. 

    If anyone has any other advice or solutions I'm all ears. Thanks for those who have responded already :smile: 
    No.  Tables and chairs for everyone.



  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    You want dancing at your dry cake and punch reception that will last a couple of hrs tops? I wouldn't expect any dancing at an event like that. Mingling and chatting, sure.
    Care to elaborate? I figured at least some people would dance, but I could be wrong.  :(
    No, people are not generally going to dance at a short, afternoon, dry, cake and punch reception.  But I take it from your hope of dancing that there's a dance floor?  Can you fill it up with tables?



    STARMOON44InLoveInQueensOliveOilsMomcowgirl8238
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    There would be enough chairs for everyone, just not necessarily at a table. Sorry if that wasn't clear. Anyone and everyone who wants to sit down would have plenty of places to choose from. 

    I do care about the guests. My ideal wedding would be 50-60 people in this venue, but my FH and I both have large families that have already required us to nix a few friends. I would choose the friends who have supported us over the more distant relatives, but that would cause problems with parents (who are involved and helping pay for the wedding).
    If you & your FI can afford a wedding with 50-60 guests, politely decline your parents' offer and plan the sort of wedding you want.

    If you are dependent on your parents' help, explain that their desired guest list leaves you with the options of a] giving up your dream venue, b] cutting even more of your friends, or c] having a rather awkward* arrangement at the reception.

    You said you think your venue could hold 160-180 guests with round tables. Before you talk with your parents, get a hard number from your contact there so you know exactly how many people you'd need to lose. Hopefully a heartfelt discussion can work through whatever problems would be caused by cutting distant relatives so that you don't actually have to exclude any more friends.


    *Not having enough tables isn't as egregious as not having enough chairs, but as others have said it's not remotely convenient for the guests who don't nab a table in time. They'd have to juggle a purse + glass + plate + fork + napkin on their lap or at a tiny bar table. Some would spend most of the time trying not to get icing on their clothes or preparing to pounce the instant another guest gets up from a table rather than celebrating!

    And others would spend most of the time guarding the table/chair spots they managed to grab, since there are not enough to go around.



    InLoveInQueens[Deleted User]
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited January 2016
    It's my first time posting so please forgive any unknown faux pas. 

    I've used the search bar a bit and have come to realize that maybe my initial idea of a standing-style cocktail reception isn't going to work like I thought. It's not a cocktail reception because there's no alcohol, but we are going to serve cake and punch and possibly finger foods. I don't want the reception to be very long. Or rather, FH and I will be leaving as soon as possible and I don't care if the guests stay and enjoy themselves or drop in and jet. (When I go to receptions, I'm usually a drop-in-and-go type person, myself.) I don't care about the garter or bouquet tosses, I mostly just want to be able to see everyone, have a first dance, have guests sign our book (or whatever alternative we find to an actual book) MAYBE do a cake cutting, and then do a send off. Short and sweet. 

    Money is not the problem, but the reception venue is very significant to us so we really really want to get married there even though our numbers are pushing it. We are inviting around 220, I think that with seated round tables our venue could hold 160-180.

    I've already cut the guest list down significantly.

    It is acceptable to have a cocktail reception and have tall bar-height tables, plus a few tables + chairs plus LOTS of chairs around the room? There will be enough room for everyone to have a chair or a standing table to eat on -- but not necessarily both. 

    If I nix the finger foods, would just serving cake and punch do it? The venue is more important to us than the food, the cost of renting more bar-height tables, or anything else. 

    Or do I just need to give up my dream of having the reception at the place that has meant so much to us for the past 7 years? :(
    You have several issues about which you must make a decision.

    1.  What time is your wedding?  If it isn't mid-afternoon, cake and punch won't cut it.  You will need to serve a meal.  Several poster have asked you this, and you still haven't answered it.

    2.  How many people can the bar legally hold?  The fire marshal will have something to say about this!

    3.  There must be a chair (not a bar stool) for every person!  Older people, like me, cannot sit on those ridiculous bar height chairs.  There also needs to be plenty of tables to rest food, drink, and silverware.

    Now let's look at real life.  You have chosen a venue that cannot accommodate your guest list.  This is your "dream venue".  You have planned your wedding backwards.  First,  you draw up the budget and guest list, and then you find a venue that will accommodate it.  You have pre-chosen the venue, and you are trying to shoehorn too many guests into it.
    Sorry, dear, but it is time for you to grow up.  Your guests are more important than any dream venue you might have.  No one, except you, cares about your venue.  That is 220 to one (two, if we count your FI).
    This is what your guests care about:  comfort, good food, relaxed atmosphere.
    This is what you will be offering them:  crowded room, uncomfortable seats, not enough food, stress due to overcrowding and poor planning.  Of course, you won't have to worry about the overcrowding, since at least half of your guests will leave when they experience the crowd.
    I think that if your dream venue is more important to you than your guests comfort, then you are too immature to get married.   JMHO.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    thisismynickname2
  • Thanks for all the replies. 
    I wrote the first post in a hurry on my way out the door, so it came across as a lot more careless and blase towards my guests than I intended and doesn't accurately communicate how I feel. We've considered eloping and we decided against it because we do care about our guests and want to see all our loved ones. The guest list is larger than I would like, but every time we revisit it, it feels as though we're at a stalemate. 

    I didn't address the time of day because in my head I answered the question and forgot to type it out -- obviously, if I'm serving cake and punch or appetizers it's not going to be at a mealtime. We haven't set the time in stone yet but most likely the reception will be starting at 2 or 2:30. 

    We're still a year and a month away from the date, so I'm still at the beginning of the planning process and have plenty of time to decide on another venue if this one doesn't work.
    I'm still waiting to hear back from the venue about the hard numbers - this was just my last ditch effort to try to find a way around it before resorting to some kind of change. It didn't work and that's fine. I'll start figuring something else out. 
    Most likely we'll be using this space for our rehearsal dinner, keeping the ceremony venue, and finding a new reception venue. I've known this an option, but it's Plan B so I wanted to make sure that Plan A was definitely out first. 
    CMGragain[Deleted User]cowgirl8238
  • I didn't address the time of day because in my head I answered the question and forgot to type it out -- obviously, if I'm serving cake and punch or appetizers it's not going to be at a mealtime.
    Don't worry, you addressed this in your second post. :)


    I think using the space for your rehearsal dinner is a great alternative. Depending how long dinner goes, you may wind up actually spending more time enjoying the meaningful venue this way, since you aren't planning to stay very long at your reception!

    STARMOON44

  • I think using the space for your rehearsal dinner is a great alternative. Depending how long dinner goes, you may wind up actually spending more time enjoying the meaningful venue this way, since you aren't planning to stay very long at your reception!
    This is a great point. The funny thing is, in the beginning it was my FH's desire that this be our venue, I wasn't sold but now I am. So I'm sure that we will grow to like whatever we choose just as much in the end. 
    InLoveInQueenscowgirl8238
  • Hey, OP.  I like your style.  You accept criticism very gracefully.  I've totally changed my mind about you.  Welcome to the Knot, and stick around!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    [Deleted User]
  • CMGragain said:
    Hey, OP.  I like your style.  You accept criticism very gracefully.  I've totally changed my mind about you.  Welcome to the Knot, and stick around!
    Thanks
  • I don't understand all the people recommending tables/chairs/table assignments for an event that's not serving a meal. That sounds so very, very odd to me. Why would you sit people at dinner/dining tables if your'e not giving them a meal?

    You have a venue that fits your guest list with chairs for everyone, and food/drink for everyone appropriate for the time of day. There is no problem with this. 

    Every event does not require dining tables!

  • Most likely we'll be using this space for our rehearsal dinner, keeping the ceremony venue, and finding a new reception venue. I've known this an option, but it's Plan B so I wanted to make sure that Plan A was definitely out first. 
    This is a good compromise.  Even if your venue can fit 220 people with tables into the room it is often not very comfortable.  I went to a wedding once that was near the capacity and it was horrible...they opened up the cocktail hallway to the reception space but you could tell it wasn't designed to be that way and everyone that was seated back there didn't stay very long.  The buffet was also under stocked and being one of the last tables called they had RUN OUT of food!!  Now, I'm not saying this to scare you off, just as a cautionary tale about stuffing too many people into the wrong venue. 
  • MandyMost said:
    Why would you sit people at dinner/dining tables if your'e not giving them a meal?
    She's not serving a full meal since it won't be a mealtime, but she is still providing food. See my post above demonstrating the irritating position guests would be in if they had no tables.

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