(Closed) Cocktail reception questions

posted 5 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
16195 posts
Honey Beekeeper

I don’t have a ton of experience with this kind of reception, but I’m bumping this in hope that someone can help you out! πŸ™‚

Post # 5
2278 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I don’t think people will get bored, but I’m biased, as I’m doing a cocktail reception as well (3.5 hour length – in the afternoon)! I feel like with the down time, there will be lots of mingling! We do have assigned seats only to ensure that everyone has a seat should they choose to eat sitting down or sit down and chat for a bit, but the guests are free to roam the room and visit and chat with others at other tables πŸ™‚ If it may help, I’ll comment back to this after my cocktail reception (this Sunday) with an update of how things went πŸ™‚


Best of luck!


Post # 6
2278 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

As for the traditional elements (first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, speeches, cake cutting), we generally have an order for those events to occur in. I know that our dances will be back to back, and then the speeches and the cake cutting will be some time in the middle (and/or) end respectively.

We do have an MC (emcee?), who will “orchestrate” this events into our reception with the proper time for each.

I just have a feeling it will be a lot of mingling, with the tradition elements (hopefully) seamlessly entered into the mix πŸ™‚ I hope!

Hope this helped!

Post # 7
1227 posts
Bumble bee

@christoffels:  We had a cocktail reception, and here’s how our unfolded:

6:00 – our guests arrived.  We had food out and available for them, and the DJ played a mix of jazz/big band music

6:20ish – wedding party and family arrived. The DJ continued to play the same jazz music. We mingled with our guests, guests drank and chatted with each other. everyone was having fun.

8:00ish – we cut the cake, did our first dance and the dances with our mothers.  The Dj switched to dance music, and the real party started.

We left around 11pm, but the party continued on without us for another 2+ hours.

No one was bored at our reception.  Many of our friends don’t all get together that often (people have busy lives) so they enjoyed being able to catch up and visit.  everyone, including us, had a blast.  I would FAR prefer that format than spending 2 hours at a table with the same 6 or 8 people for all that time. But that is just my preference.

Post # 8
1262 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

my question is….are there going to be places for everyone to sit down?  My cousin had an appetizer reception and honestly, I thought it was great!! Everyone could help themeslves and you could get up at anytime and get your food….there were really no lines because of the way they had the food tables set up. They still had the traditional tables for everyone to sit at though….if they hadn’t had that, it would have been difficult and not very enjoyable.

I can’t really remember (she got married 2 years ago) how long the food was out for before they started dancing etc. If memory serves I think they left the food out the whole time…even during the dancing (they had one large room)…it worked out really good.

I think as long as you have seating for everyone and the food is always available…you should be fine…just my opinion though.



Post # 9
1769 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

We’re doing a cocktail reception for the same reason (dinner fits 120, CR fits 200, we’re inviting around 180).

Our ceremony is elsewhere during the day (gaps are super common where we’re from).

our reception timeline is:

615p- bridal party and parents show up

630- doors open, receiving line (just bride/groom/MOB/FOB).

630- bar opens, food is out

645/7- bridal party intros, we eat, mingle

7- cake cut, photo booth opens

730- first dance, parent dances, speeches

dance floor opens, dance music begins. Prior to this our dj will be playing soft rock and other songs we like but aren’t danceable.


Post # 10
269 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I think as long as you have enough seats for everyone to sit and some music people will stay all night.


Post # 11
11419 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

I attended one wedding like this, and the reception began a few hours after the ceremony ended to allow people to leave and go have dinner and then return to the venue for the rest of the evening’s events.

Everyone seemed to have a good time at this wedding and reception.  My husband was the officiant, and the wedding was for an extended family member, so we actually stayed at the venue until it was time for the reception, so I really didn’t have anything to do for a few hours. However, that was not the case with the majority of the guests.

I actually am scheduled to attend a cocktail reception later this year, and I anticipate that it will be lovely.

Post # 12
369 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

We’re having one on Friday, so I’ll let you know πŸ˜‰

Post # 13
104 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

Other than a DJ, what other types of entertainment would be appropriate fro a cocktail wedding?  I dont know how many of my guests are dancers. 

Post # 14
369 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

We just had ours on Friday and there were about 50 guests. We just had two open bars, finger foods, and an ice cream bar. Even though we had a dance floor and music, people spent 90% of the time catching up with each other and mingling. We also played a slideshow from over the years which looped after 30 min and people seemed to really enjoy that. If you also have a photobooth, I think it will be just fine!

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