Post # 1
My FI and I are going to have a cocktail style reception. We are having an evening ceremony/reception in a loft downtown. We are viewing it as an extended cocktail hour with dancing. We are not formal people…and we want our wedding to be a celebration, a cocktail party! We are having food stations/heavy h’ds and the stations will be set up throughout the venue (not at a single location like most buffets). We will not have placecards or escort cards or assigned seating.
My question is about the seating. The venue we chose is encouraging us not to have a "seat" for every guest. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this, but then I decided that when I go to a cocktail party at a friends they do not have a place for everyone to sit and there is normally food and drinks being served. I think it will be fine because we are placing seating around and throughout our venue and it will vary: we will have about 10 traditional round banquet tables with chairs, various lounge furniture, and about 10 bistro tables (3 with 2 bistro height chairs ea.). So there will be different options for people to sit/perch/set drinks if they want/need to. We will also have the courtyard open (which will have a bar and about 24 seats).
We are hoping this setup (strategically located food stations, varied seating options, late start) will lend itself toward more of a party feel. We plan on getting the activities started as soon as the reception begins and space it out periodically.
However, I have been reading many boards where people seem to be appalled at the mention of there not being a seat for every guest. Our venue is assuring us that they have done many receptions this way and it is always well-recieved.
I am not a traditional bride, but I would like to hear what you open-minded bees think about our reception (seating in particular).
Post # 3
If you don’t have a seat for everyone, be prepared for those people to leave early. I’ve been to cocktail type parties for other events, most of which did not have enough seating for each person and it was extremely awkward. Most women are going to be heels the entire time. Even those who aren’t still have to juggle a plate, a drink, a purse, a camera, and somehow have a free hand on top of that to eat or drink with, which is not humanly possible. Even with just chairs, people have to juggle plates on their laps and set their drink and other stuff on the floor and pray that their drink doesn’t get knocked over which there is no way to prevent. I’ve even been to some where the only plates they had were heavy dinner plates which you really don’t want to hold after 5 mins because they are heavy and most glasses don’t fit upright on them so that you have a free hand to eat with if you are stuck standing. I’ve seen tons of people leave earlier than the event lasts because of that poor planning. If I were having a cocktail reception, seats and tables for each person attending would be non-negotiable and it wouldn’t matter what the staff suggested otherwise.
Post # 4
We are also doing a Cocktail Reception and I was worried about not having a seat for everyone. I spoke with my BIL who is a caterer and he said if you have seating for at least half of the group, you should be fine. We will have a few tables without chairs, in addition to the ones with chairs, to give people a place to put down their plates/glasses, but we also want to encourage a certain "flow" to the room and not have people stake out a chair and not move!
With that said, I am sure there will be a few early departures since we aren’t doing a sit-down meal and we aren’t focused so much on dancing, but I also know the bulk of our friends will be standing around chatting with each other so much that they won’t miss the chairs!
Post # 5
I think Ember is discounting using cocktail tables:
I’m having a cocktail reception too and my venue/caterer suggested the same thing, so we’re renting these.
They say you only want seats for 75% of your guests and after seeing an expensive dance floor being rented at a wedding where no one danced, just stayed glued to their seat i understand why! It’s not dinner, it’s cocktail hour–you’ll have little plates and you shouldn’t be cutting anything with a knife and fork unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Post # 6
We are having a cocktail reception and have decided not to have enough seats for everyone… the main reason is because the dance floor will be ready to go from the start.
I think people are forgetting that typically with dinner, tables are set on top of the dance floor and then removed for the dancing to begin… and then there are never enough seats for everyone the entire night…
We want that fun feel right from the start – we have lounge areas set up, cocktail tables and big large round tables as well. There will be enough seating for about 50% of our guests – and besides that, there are other areas for them to go (i.e. the patio) for more seating, if desired. We aren’t worried about it, the hors d’oeuvres will not need a fork and knife, so most people won’t feel the need to sit (except for with dessert).
Post # 7
Yes! We are having 10 of those cocktail tables…
I love that pic, what are those sashes made out of? I was just going to rent chair sashes to tie around the cocktail table linens..but those are pretty 🙂
Post # 8
since it’s a cocktail reception, it’s not necessary to have seats for everyone.i’ve never been to a cocktail party whre there was seating for everyone. people usually rotate. and, if you want to keep them on the dance floor, don’t give them the option to sit down. i’m sure at some point those who want to leave will leave anyway and those who stay will probably find a way to rotate the seats.
i am doing a full sit down dinner in a 2 story loft. the dinner is on one floor and the cocktail hour & dancing and drinks will be on the top floor. the dinner is just a formality to us. but, the main party is going to be the dancing. we are providing seating (lounge style) for about 30-40% of guests on the top floor. if all the guests want to sit down, they can do so, but will have to go downstairs to the dining area if they don’t secure a seat upstairs.
that being said, i am going to make it very hard for them to want to go back downstairs (hehe…..shhh…our little secret). i am having the dj, photobooth, candy buffet, both bars and the cigar lounge upstairs. after dinner, there will be nothing left downstairs, but tables and chairs….lol.
i read that if you want to keep your guests on the dance floor and not feel self conscious, you should make sure the dance floor is not too big, the ceiling height is not too tall and the lights should be dimmed. the upstairs area has 45 ft’ ceilings and is one open space. i am going to have a designated area for the dancing (i won’t need a dance floor since the flooring is hard wood) and hang up paper lanters to compensate for the tall ceilings.
Post # 9
How about having a loungey area with comfy big, wide couches and different types of seating to encourage interaction between guests and also a place to relax after noshing and dancing?
That and intermixed the cocktail tables! Just mix it up and have a blast! Make it like a cozy, comfy club or retro speakeasy.
Post # 10
You will be fine. Provide an educated number of chairs based on your guestlist. Specifically, I would caution having at a minimum enough chairs for people that would never stand up for long periods of time. The elderly, pregnant women, etc. Then add from there.
Post # 11
Lol I have no idea, I google image searched it so that I would be able to show what I was talking about. It looks like a nice organza though, like you might use for chair sashes… other than that I have no clue!
Post # 12
THANK YOU guys so much. I feel so much better.
As for minumum seating my FMIL insists that her "generation" will want a table, so we had toyed with "reserving" a few round banquet tables for them…but, we weren’t quite sure how to word the reserved sign or let certain guests know that the "reserved" is for them. Any ideas?
Post # 13
We are also doing a cocktail reception and we have 8 tables w/ 10 chairs at each and several highboys for approximately 120 people. My mom is also big on "her generation" and older wanting seats, but we just figured that they would just take over the tables to begin with, so we aren’t putting up any reserved signs or anything like that. I’m sure they’ll figure it out! Perhaps she can just tell her friends & family that want tables to just put their stuff down right when they get there to "reserve" them that way!
Post # 14
i don’t think you need seating for everyone, especially if there are different areas to explore. just make sure you keep things flowing so that people aren’t waiting around for things to happen. be snappy in getting to the toasts, cake cutting, first dance, etc. once the dance floor is open there shouldn’t be any problems.
Post # 15
We’re doing a cocktail reception, too. We have two small loungey areas with ottomans and coffee tables, 12 cocktail tables with 4 seats and 4 tall "airport" tables. We’ve reserved three of the cocktail tables for older family members–but I know my friends–we have lots of parties where there is sparse seating and we have a blast. I’ve been to two events done by family/friend that were awesome like this. Ours is outside (in a shaded area), but it’s a bed and breakfast, so the inside also has seating capacity for 30–there’s a beautiful sun porch, etc. And our waiters will be walking around and setting out a seat should anyone want one who doesn’t have one.
One thing we are doing is providing flip flops for all the women to take care of the heels issue–and our reception is 3 hours.
Post # 16
As a wedding planner, I often advise clients who are having a cocktail/heavy o’d reception to have seating for 75-80% of the final guest count, ESPECIALLY if you have a good bar and entertainment. This will save money on chair rentals/decorations so you have extra funds for said bar and entertainment. Have several high-top "cocktail" tables (about one for every three to four tables with chairs) so people can gather around them and still have a place to put down their plates to eat and drink before partying and dencing.