Cocktail-style reception. Do we tell guests beforehand?

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
660 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

@Groominator:  you could write on the card, “Cocktail reception with heavy hors d’ouvres to follow.”

and that’s my favorite kind of wedding reception!

Post # 4
2788 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Definitely warn them. You’re better off with too much food over too little.

Post # 5
70 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

You should definitely let them know; “Cocktail hour to follow the ceremony, including substantial hors d’oeuvres” or “Catered cocktail hr to follow..”

Post # 6
3217 posts
Sugar bee

The way to let guests know that a full meal will not be served is by having the reception at a non meal time.  After 7:00 guests will have eaten beforehand, and will not be expecting a full meal.

If you are hosting over a traditional meal time, then you must provide enough to be a meal, even if that is in bite sized pieces, and no need to warn people.

Post # 8
11379 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2012

@Groominator:  what time is the ceremony and when does that end?  is there going to be a gap?  hopefully guests don’t go and eat a full meal and not be hungry when they get to your reception.  i personally would still expect to be fed at a 7pm reception.

i think “catered cocktail reception” would suffice.

Post # 9
10219 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Etiquette Snob here… lol

Having more info on the circumstances would be useful.

But in the meantime…

Traditional Etiquette states you don’t have to explain much to your Guests… “It’s Your Party, you host it as you see fit”

BUT it is fairly acceptable now to put “Adult Reception to Follow” on Invites, and if you are running over a meal hour, and there is no often-seen RSVP Reception Cards people are going to wonder

In which case I think the words… “Catered Cocktail Reception to Follow” would be acceptable

It at least gives the Guests a clue as to what to expect.

“Catered” implies that there will perhaps be passed hors d’ouevres (hot and cold, heavier than lighter)

Hope this helps,


Post # 11
2992 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

We are stating that light refreshments will be served after the wedding on the invitations so no one is disappointed thinking they would be getting a meal.

Post # 13
2884 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

@Groominator:  so there is enough food for a meal and the only issue is no table seating? then you dont need to say anything. plenty of weddings dont have escort cards/table numbers. if youre unsure pass it by word of mouth that theres a lot fo food



Post # 16
1981 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

@Groominator:  I would give them a heads up- I went to a wedding a couple weekends ago that had “hot and heavy hors d’oeurves.”  And the bride and the groom and the caterer thought there would be PLENTY of food and no one would go hungry.  They had tray-passed and a buffet with food stations… and they ran out of food!  I think I only had bread and cheese, chips, and pizzas from the buffet until cake was served and I was STARVING.  I guess my main question to you is- what is the down side of letting people know?  Also, if you have a wedding website, that would be a good place to explain what food will be available.  Good luck!

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