Appetizers and Dessert Only Reception

posted 4 months ago in Reception
Post # 2
Member
387 posts
Helper bee

 the1runningwife :  I have never been to a wedding like this, but I have seen other posts like this on the Weddingbee. You will usually get these 2 responses:

1. Make sure you have enough food for everyone. Even though the reception is a little later than a typical dinner, people might still be hungry. Dont think that people will just have 2-3 appitizers, as that wont be enough.

2. A lot of weddings like this are “cocktail style” meaning there is not a specific seat for everyone. Make sure you have at least 1+ seats per person if you are expecting them to walk around and mingle. 

 

Post # 3
Member
1101 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2019

I don’t feel that this works in your situation. Your wedding is very much at a meal time and I would be expecting a meal. You would need to provide enough apps to actually fill people, which is usually more expensive than just doing a dinner. Also, as PP said, people still need to be able to sit. There’s nothing worse than managing your good, drink, purse all with sore feet

Post # 4
Member
8747 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

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the1runningwife :  I had a wedding like this, but as PP said we had more than enough food for everyone to fill up at a meal time. It was just served in smaller bites with more variety than a plate of meat/starch/veggie. 

As for seating it’s really a know your crowd situation. We didn’t have exactly 1 seat per person BUT (1) the vast majority of our guest list was under 40 and in good health (2) we paid a lot of money for an amazing band that kept people dancing so they didn’t really want to sit (3) our friends aren’t jerks – if they saw Great Uncle So and So looking for a seat they’d jump up and give them theirs and (4) all of our friends/family are SUPER outgoing chatty people that don’t feel like they need to have a “spot”.  I never saw all the seats filled and it was really cool to see how everyone mingled outside of their “groups”. My best friends parents were chatting with my cousins, my softball team was hanging out with my husband’s college friends, my high school buddy was chatting with my husband’s former nanny, etc etc. 

So yes I think this style of wedding has the potential to be awesome – mine certainly was! but if you have very reserved, traditional guests it might not go over well. 

ETA! Keep the food rolling all night. We had a few stations when people arrived, then waiter-passed food started shortly after. Then there was cake/coffee. A little while later we had late-night drunky junk food passed around. Especially for your VIPs that might be busy earlier in the reception the late food is key. My Maid/Matron of Honor said she was so nervous for her speech she barely ate any of the early food and around 9pm (and a few cocktails in) realized she was starving. A few minutes later sliders and fries arrived and she loaded up and was good for the rest of the night! Also people need a place to set their drinks while eating. In addition to seated tables we also had high tops for people who wanted to move around more.

Post # 5
Member
4672 posts
Honey bee

Your wedding is during dinner time. You need to feed your guests a hot meal or move the time earlier if you really want an appetizer only reception like between 3 & 4pm or something. If you are doing appetizers only because you think it will be more cost effective. You need to double check again as sometimes, appetizers end up costing more money & effort instead of a regular meal.  

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the1runningwife :  

Post # 6
Member
7389 posts
Busy Beekeeper

Start your ceremony later and I think its ok. Like an 8pm ceremony, gives people time to eat before hand. 

Plus if youre planning an open bar you want people to have food in their tummy. Appy and dessert only during a meal time when people are hungry and drinking lots of alcohol is a bad idea. 

Post # 7
Member
760 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

Maybe I’m just a prematurely old lady, but if I got an invitation for a wedding that didn’t start until 6:30 and a reception that didn’t start until 7:30 or later, I’d definitely eat beforehand!

I think it just depends on the amount of food. If you have a ton but it’s appetizer/small plate style, that’s fine. If you’re trying to get off with just a few passed appetizers, maybe downgrade the bar and add more. 

Post # 8
Member
971 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2020

On top of your reception being at dinnertime, some of your vendor contracts may require that they be fed a “hot” meal.

If I were at a reception that started at 7, esp one that had a gap after the ceremony, I’d be disappointed to only get fed cold appetizers. Esp in fall weather. I’d keep waiting for dinner then leave early.

I think your idea only works if you have a short reception in between mealtimes in warmer weather. You also need to specify in your invites that you’re doing a “cake and punch” reception. 

Post # 9
Member
499 posts
Helper bee

I don’t mind just appetizers, but all cold food at dinner time  is pretty underwhelming 

Post # 10
Member
8747 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

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BuzzedBumblingBee :  
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wonderwedding :  lots of appetizers can be hot too! We had a fall wedding so one of our options was mini grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup shooters.  Late night we had sliders and fries. Everything was hot. It’s all in the execution – we had several waiters that were hustling food around straight from the kitchen and it worked out perfectly.

But it’s definitely not a cost savings – to have chefs make full meals in tiny adorable bites and waiters running around making sure it’s hot when it reaches everyone definitely isn’t cheaper than a regular buffet or even many plated meals. We did it because we liked the atmosphere more – if it’s an attempt at cost savings it will fail! 

eta – oye I’m a scatterbrain today. Just noticed that she specified the food can’t be hot! In that case yea I agreed that would be pretty terrible.

Post # 11
Member
367 posts
Helper bee

i don’t mind this idea in theory, but i think having a full open bar with only cold appetizers during dinner time sounds like a recipe for people getting really drunk by accident.

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LilliV :  OP said that they cannot bring in hot food. 

Post # 12
Member
296 posts
Helper bee

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the1runningwife :  My best friend did this. Her reception was at 7 or 7:30 pm. Except she did dessert only and an open bar. It was on the invitation, and we all ate ahead of time. They had SO many desserts…wedding cake, macaroons, brownies, cookies, etc. Nobody complained. Do what you can afford. Nobody will say anything, they’ll just eat dinner before they come. We drank, ate dessert and danced the night away. It was so fun!

Post # 13
Member
4769 posts
Honey bee

I would move your ceremony to 8:00 (maybe 7:30 at the earliest) and refer to it as a dessert reception, but still have the cold apps available so people don’t get completely sugared out or overly drunk.  But it also depends on what you mean by outside vendor cold appetizers.  Do you mean you’re going to do a Costco run and have veggies, fruit, and cheese and crackers?  Or are you going with a caterer who will create a variety of options to have enough to constitute a full meal?

Cause let’s work backwards…

6:30 start time means that your average guest is going to get there between 6:00 and 6:15.

Let’s say your average local guest has about a 15-20 minute drive, not including parking and making their way inside the venue, so we’ll call it 25-30 minutes to get there.  So now we’re leaving home at about 5:30 – 5:45. 

It would probably take me an hour to shower, get dressed, do hair and make-up and I’m kind of a minimalist on the hair thing and I don’t share a bathroom with anyone so I know it would take others longer.  So at the very least I”m starting to get ready for your wedding by no later than 4:30 if not earlier, which means I would have had to eat dinner at like 4:00, which is pretty darn early, or just wolf down a sandwich or some cereal while getting ready which makes cold apps pretty unappealing. 

If you’re dead set on the 6:30 start time, then I would give up the notion of outside vendors and just use their own so you can have hot options (and plenty of them), too.

 

ETA:  You also have the option of moving it earlier and do mid-afternoon (2 or 2:30 start time) so that people are out of there by about 6pm and can go out to dinner or head home for dinner.

Post # 14
Member
7523 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

While I wouldn’t mind an appetizer set up at that hour (as long as there is enough food), I would not be thrilled with all cold food at dinner time.

Can you push your ceremony back a bit?

Post # 15
Member
626 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I’ve been to an appetizer only cocktail style reception and it was awesome!!!!! There was a ton of food though it worked out great! but it was in off hours between lunch and dinner so it worked well. Your timeframe for ceremony might be a smudge early considering people have to get ready and drive over… which the getting ready time would probably be dinner time for most. I would suggest doing a later ceremony.

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