(Closed) Anyone NOT having a sit down reception??

posted 7 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
Member
97 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@MissHighHeel:

We are doing a cocktail and hor’ d’s reception only. Eliminating the need for everyone to sit all at once. No sit down dinner = less sitting. We are leaning toward having enough seating for 50-75% of our guest and then having cocktail tables for those who are going to be standing. One thing to keep in mind is some people are going to want to sit, especially elderly and children. So you may want to provide some seating, even if limited. We are also keeping our reception fairly short. I went to a wedding on Saturday where the reception lasted 6 hours…I’d die if I didn’t have a seat during that time. But our reception will only be 2-3hours and as long as everyone doesn’t decide they need to plop down all at once…we should have places for individuals to sit and rest for a few as they need/want too. 

Hope that helps!

Post # 5
Member
3866 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

we’re not having a formal “sit down” dinner, but people will be able to grab plates of food (buffet style) and sit where they want.  

Our kids will be sitting with us (we are NOT sharing our kids! our parents can just deal :P) and the wedding party can sit wherever/however they want, but there will be seats available for them at our table if they want.  (I think).

After that, they can stand, mingle, wander around all they want.  They can also dance, should they so desire…

We’re hoping it’ll be more ‘party’ than ‘wedding’…. if that makes sense?

Post # 6
Member
46 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: January 2011

We just had our wedding on June 4th, and it went so well.  It was harder to plan in the beginning when we decided to break away from the traditional format, but in the long run I think you’ll be grateful that you don’t have to worry about escort cards, seating arrangements, what happens if someone shows up with a guest you didn’t know about, etc.

Our reception was indoors and ended up quite nice although we stuck to a pretty tight budget.  We had a caterer with waiters to pass around more substanial hors d’oeuvres and set up tables with simple finger foods (fruit, veggies, hummus and pita) in case anyone was starving and just wanted to fix a plate for themselves or a child to snack on without having to wait for the more substantial passed stuff.  We ended up ordering WAYY too much food because I was paranoid about people going hungry, but it coudl’ve been even cheaper than it was.  For our cake, we asked our favorite bakery to make the most delicious cake in town (in our opinion!) just in a bigger version, which ended up making for a pretty display and a memorable cake without breaking the bank.

The pros of the format were that everyone got to mingle and all our friends from different states got to meet each other organically (very cool to see your fb light up with all your people friending each other afterward!) and it was easy for us to see all our guests too instead of spending a good portion of the reception eating at a head (or sweethearts) table.  We also just sort of called everything as we saw it — there was no ridid schedule.  We kicked off the reception a little earlier than we’d planned on since people started getting there early and the caterers were totally flexible and on top of that, but it meant that people started getting full/restless a little earlier than we’d expected, so when the party started to feel like it needed a pick-me-up, we asked the caterer to cut the cake.  When it started to level out again, I threw the bouquet. It was a really fun party and came to sort of a natural conclusion, which brings me to the cons to watch out for:

People seem to feel less obligated to hang around for the whole reception if you don’t have a clear itinerary like you do in a more standard wedding reception.  This was fine for us because most of our guests were family from out of town (who weren’t going anywhere!) but it did make me freak out for a moment when we were only 30 minutes in and realized that some people had left already.  I would rather not hold people hostage who think they have somewhere better to be (more cake for the rest of us!) but i mention it since it was something I hadn’t expected/thought of.  And the flip side of the “getting to spend more time with guests” coin is that you spend less time alone with your new husband at the reception than you would by default if you were sitting down for a meal together.  That was fine for us since it was super important to us to make the most of our time with the people who went so out of way to celebrate with us, but the downside was that I spent a LOT of time running around looking for my husband and/or mom in key moments because we were always in different corners talking to different people.  I’m sure our poor photographer was tearing her hair out, ha ha.  I think if we were to do it all over again, I’d keep everything exactly the same except for that.  It would have been a little nicer to be able to float around visiting with everyone as a couple…since that’s sort of the point of the party.  In an outdoor format that may work better for you (not having separate rooms to get lost in), but I figured it was worth mentioning in case it helps πŸ™‚

I would definitely make sure that some seating is available for older people or people who just are getting tired, which it sounds like you’ve thought of, but I think you’ll be really happy with the format.  I would guess that 50% of our guests told us it was the best wedding they had ever been to.  Not to our credit, we just provided the alcohol and let people hang over and sample yummy foods.  We’re not a big dancing crowd and it was an afternoon reception so a DJ felt like a little much.  We just had chill music, food, alcohol, and our happy selves πŸ™‚  I think if you start with the basics, you’ll find that the party works out just fine no matter how much you decide to micromanage it from there or just let it happen like my deadbeat bride self did, ha ha.

Anyhow…good luck with your planning!!  I know we’re not supposed to plug our personal blogs and stuff here, but send me a message if you want to see pictures to get a better idea of how ours went πŸ™‚

Post # 7
Member
3222 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

We’re doing a cocktail reception instead of a full sit-down too. 

Basically, we have 150 people invited, and plan on having benches with pillows scattered everywhere, and about 10 cocktail tables set up intermittently. It will have a nice lounge feel to it. 

What we’re doing for food, is having finger foods only, so people don’t have a fork. When there’s a fork, people are going to want to sit down. I want people mingling and dancing and having a good time, so no stemware=no sitting.

It’s going to be all about dancing eating and drinking. Fiance and I just don’t want a formal sit-down dinner…just SO not us πŸ™‚

@mkpw: thank you for this recap! I love hearing success stories from others that have done this and enjoyed it!

Post # 8
Member
729 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

We aren’t. It is not a traditional thing to have a sit down dinner where I am from. We traditionally have buffets without enough seating for everyone. There is normally dancing and eating going on at the same time so not everyone is eating at the same time. It always works out that there are open seats and people standing and mingling.

Post # 10
Member
3049 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 1991

@MissHighHeel: Just some advice from a guest who goes to a lot of weddings where there is not enough seating. The wedding is still fun! But I always wish that I could sit down somewhere. My feet start hurting real badly, and combine that with the heat during the summer and I begin to get anxious. People will still have fun, don’t get me wrong! But they may end up leaving earlier than expected because it’s just too tiring to not have a seat.

I like the idea of them bringing their ceremony chairs and sitting around the already set up tables. Will everyone have a chair for the ceremony? If so, then I don’t think it’s a problem to not have tons of tables. Anyone can eat without a table, but it’s A LOT easier if they at least have a chair.

Post # 12
Member
3222 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

@MissHighHeel: the benches are from our rental company, so I would ask your local rentals if they offer furniture! Here’s what ours look like:

bench, cocktail table, end table:

Post # 14
Member
3049 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 1991

@MissHighHeel: Good to know! I think it will work out fine. Leave out a few tables to the left. Put plates whereever the food will be, and you’re good to go! πŸ™‚

Post # 15
Member
46 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: January 2011

@MissHighHeel I sent you a private message (not sure if you got it) but if we hadn’t helped pay for peoples’ hotel rooms, our wedding would’ve been under $7k, granted, for fewer guests.  Catering was our biggest expense at about $3k…but that covered the bartender (though not the alcohol), the waitstaff, cake cutting, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, etc, in addition to the food.

Our final costs broke down to something like this (we only had 85 people in the end but we pre paid for enough for 100 + everyone working our wedding):

Catering: $3000 – and we WAY overdid it

Alcohol: $1000 – for local beers, wine, champagne/mimosas – and we have SO MUCH left over

Cake: $250 – ordered three large cakes from our favorite bakery intead of a traditional wedding cake

Acrylic stands for cake: $30 on ebay

Music: $40 (we bought cds and put them on an ipod we already owned to pump through our venue)

Flowers: free (to us — my wonderful aunt ordered a bunch from freshroses.com and arranged them in ivy bowls for tables and a few bigger vases for focal points)

Photographer: is a friend; we’ve got our own bartering agreement worked out πŸ™‚

That’s all for the reception — not counting the ceremony and reception spaces (since it sounds like you have that worked out), everything (including officiant, musician, wardrobe, wireless amplification system so guests could hear us, etc) came to well under $5k, so I think you can probably find it in your budget to pay for the caterer to take care of the food.  Our venue was AWESOME and did permit non-caterer food to be brought in, so we were thinking of self-catering a lot of it (at least the tabled foods — we have a Costco membership!), but the event coordinator at the venue urged us to at least ask what it would cost the caterer to do what we were planning on doing.  It was really good advice…it turned out to not be much more at all to just delegate the tabled food to them once we already had an established contract, and it saved us all that last minute shopping/assembling/etc.  Just a thought!  

 

Post # 16
Member
34 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I am so glad you posted this!!! We’re just having a dessert reception, and I’m such a visual person it’s driving me crazy that I can’t picture how it’s going to look! While we are having some seating, we’re not having seating for everyone. It’s completely up to you how much seating you want to have, but my caterer told me this the other day and it sounded like helpful advice…

If you have seating for 50% of the guests or more, the guests won’t visually be able to tell there’s not enough seats for everyone so they will immediately go for a chair. IF, however, you have seating for less than 50%, they will be able to see that there isn’t enough seating so they will be more likely to mingle! I hope this helps! And if anyone has pictures of a reception like this, I would greatly appreciate seeing them! 

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