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How To Rock Your Cocktail Party Reception

You and your fiancé have weighed all your options and have decided to embrace a cocktail reception for your wedding reception! Awesome! Some of the best parties we’ve been to have embraced the more informal cocktail style reception! So without further ado, here’s a list of tips and tricks to bring the fun and rock your cocktail party celebration!

1. The food is a really big part of a cocktail style wedding – it truly is one of the main features – even more so than during a sit down dinner, and as such there are many opportunities in the hors d’oeuvres, food bars, desserts, and late night stations to have fun or maybe even theme the entire menu to your (and your fiancé’s) family heritage or traditions or your personalities.

2. Keep the food coming all evening! Seriously! People will be dancing and enjoying cocktails and will burn off all of those hor d’oeuvres fairly quickly. And, you never want your guests to leave because they’re hungry, and too many cocktails with too little food isn’t a recipe for fun, it’s a recipe for an early night!

3. Even Though you’re having a cocktail party style reception, it’s best to still include some cozy seating nooks or areas and even a small collection of tables and chairs. Your older guests, or guests with young children will appreciate a place to sit and talk while they have a bite to each. You seriously don’t want your guests to leave so that they can sit down and take a rest, so give them the opportunity to do that and your party, so they’re ready to get back to partying!

4. If you want to have a great party, make sure your venue isn’t too big and cavernous! Ideally you want to hit that sweet spot where your reception doesn’t feel crowded, but still feels intimate. And, the same goes for your dance floor! People tend to feel a little shyer and slower to warm up if the dance floor is too big or the guestlist isn’t big enough to fill it! Also, if you hire a DJ, they will often need to bring more equipment to fill that large space, which could affect your bottom line as well as increasing set-up time. 

5. Since you’re unlikely to have as many formal wedding reception elements in a cocktail style reception, you may need to tweak the wedding timeline. Sometimes shorter is sweeter when it comes to cocktail receptions. Guests will be coming ready to party and if they arrive at 6pm oftentimes a 6 hour cocktail reception can be too much without some of the more time consuming elements of a traditional reception. After all, you want our guests to come, mingle, celebrate, enjoy and party, but it’s always best to end the party on a high note, leaving the guests wanting just a little more. It’s kind of like having out of town guests… the best visits are the ones you wish were just a little longer, the worst are ones that go on too long.

You are, of course, welcome to take or leave our advice, and do what works best for you, but these are some of the elements of the most successful cocktail style receptions we’ve been a part of!

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