Post # 1
Hi! My fiance and I are getting married May 28th and we are so torn on how to do our seating arrangements. The one thing we do know is that we will not have assigned seats because this is a cocktail/buffet style reception. We definitely won’t have seats for all of our 250 guests, but we cannot decide on what size tables and what percentage. The venue comes with 30 cocktail tables that each seat 5. We also have an outdoor patio area that we would have to put some of those cocktail tables at. Any additional 60″ table or highboy costs $$. I do want my guests on the dance floor, but I also want to make sure they are comfortable and there isnt a sea of tables. The original idea was to do 25 cocktail tables inside (the rest of the 5 outside), adding 4 60″ (seat 10each) reserved tables and 2 high boys seating 165 people — That would be 66% percent of our guest count…On the flip side we could do 19 60″ tables inside seating 190 and 12 cocktail tables outside seating 48, but it would add $$ to our budget…Do you all have any advice?
Post # 2
Unfortunately, when it comes to seating, there’s never any acceptable option other than to provide chairs for everyone. I can’t imagine filling my plate up at a buffet and having nowhere to sit since there wasn’t a chair for me, and awkwardly trying to eat with a fork and knife while standing up and holding a plate (with no drink of course, since I have no free hand to hold it with). Same goes for a heavy hors d’oeuvres situation. Not to mention the fact that everyone who wore heels will not be happy with you by the end of the night. If you can’t come up with chairs for 250 guests, cut the guest list.
Post # 3
Thank you so much! I definitely want everyone to feel comfortable, but in New Orleans it is just customary to have more of a cocktail style reception where some people are dancing while some people are eating – not everyone eats at the same time, but I totally see what you are saying!
Post # 4
No advice, but following this thread because I want to throw my husband a graduation party with mixed seating like this. Good luck!!
Post # 5
Awesome! Good luck to you too!
Post # 6
You absoutely do not need seats for everyone. The whole point of a cocktail reception is to have your guests mingle. I’ve been to several cocktail wedding receptions and none have had seats for everyone. In fact, the last one didn’t have tables and chairs at all – there were window seats, that was it. No other seats. And I didn’t even realize that until months later.
We are having a cocktail reception for 100 – we are having 6 tables with chairs, 6 high tops and the venue comes with benches that seat 40 I think. And I guarantee there will never be a time when all seats are occupied.
Have you spoken to your caterer? That’s who suggested the tables and seating we are going to have.
Post # 7
You absolutely DO need a seat for every butt. Forcing people to “mingle” by not having enough seats is shitty hosting. You will notice that the only people saying it’s acceptable to not have enough seats, are other people who are planning (or have done) the same thing. Nobody wants to be a nomad for 6 hours, with no spot to leave their purse or jacket or drink.
Post # 8
We are not having our reception in an empty room. There are chairs and tables and places for people to sit, if they choose. No one is being forced to do anything. There are places to put coats and purses and drinks and plates. And YES the people who are not suggesting seating for everyone are the people who are planning or have done the same thing – becuase we know what we are talking about. If you’ve never been to or hosted a cocktail reception, then why are you commeting on this thread?
OP – when you do wedding realted things that are not traditional, like a cocktail reception, you get a LOT of push back from people who don’t know what they are talking about. Stick to what you want to do and the recommendations of your caterer. The weddings I’ve been to that have had cocktail receptions are absoultely the most fun.
Post # 9
We went to a NOLA reception like this at Pat O’s on the river and it was miserable. Standing in heels FOREVER because there is insufficient seating followed by the second line parade… It was no fun. And it was hot and humid, so outdoor “seating” really wasn’t very helpful.
Id vote for as much seating as you have guests.
Post # 10
Woo hoo for a fellow NOLA May bride! I’m doing assigned tables and it is freaking out my New Orleans guests. My family is more traditional and FI’s is native New Orleans. They think it is so weird that I’m assigning tables, hah. I’m a fan of assigned seating, but having been to a lot of New Orleans weddings… I get it. Receptions are far shorter, there isn’t a “cocktail hour” and no big plates. And we all know the NOLA crowd is going to stay closer to the bar than their seat anyway ;-). I feel like IMO, the bigger tables are better for seated meals. The cocktails and high boys exude the vibe of “hey go mingle!” High boys are cheap (like 8 bucks) so you can always throw in a couple extra. My main pet peeve with the lack of seating here is trying to eat off my plate while holding a drink. The highboys (or any table really) help to eliminate a lot of that frustration.
Post # 11
While I understand the idea of “cocktail reception”, you need a chair for everyone. I was at a wedding that was cocktail style with about 50 chair for 120 people. It was magic because 45 minutes into the wedding there were enough seats because half the guests left because sitting on the floor to eat sucks. Have a chair for everyone.
Post # 12
I’ve been to many fancy cocktail parties and I still agree with Daisy_Mae:
. Limited seating actually makes me LESS likely to mingle, because I stake out my seat and/or table immediately and only move if one of my friends is guarding our spots. It’s annoying to have to stand in heels the whole time and not have a place to put your purse. When I’ve been to receptions with enough seating, I don’t have a problem moving around to different spots.
Post # 13
Hi – so I’m one of those that hasn’t planned or will be having a cocktail style reception but I have attended two that were amazing and no, there were not seats for everyone. I would say about 65% of ppl could sit and eat while the rest mingled, stood at high tops to eat/drink smaller plates or danced. There were a few couches/benches about at both events. The tables for diners were never full – it is not intended that everyone eat at the same time. I ate when I wanted, found an open chair to sit and repeated this cycle with mingling/dancing in between. It was great! I would add though that this only works if your food stays out for while to ensure everyone can graze at their own pace. The older guests were the only ones that camped out on a couch for the night and there was certainly enough seats for them to do so.
I would make sure that your invitation is clear that it is a cocktail style reception or maybe include a few words on an insert/website. Ladies will opt for more comfortable shoes, as did I, for the event if they are concerned about standing in heels. They can also be a guest who chooses to stake out a spot all night. This is just like having an outside wedding and it being chilly- inform your guests of what to expect and they should dress appropriately for the setup.
Post # 14
I guess I’m missing something. Of all the cocktail receoptions I’ve been to, I’ve never not found a spot to put my bag. I’ve never not been able to sit when I wanted to (even at the wedding that did not provide any talbes and chairs). Not every guest is going to sit at the exact same time – that is true even for a plated dinner. My feet hurt when I wear heels to a plated dinner reception, because I usually don’t sit for long and like to walk around and dance. It’s not like no one can ever sit at a cocktail reception. Guests will be able to sit if they choose. It’s not like anyone is suggesting one chair and some kind of hunger games situation.
Post # 15
arquelle: We usually keep our bags under the tables. I understand not every guest is going to sit at the same time, but I like knowing that I definitely can sit or at least put my plate and/or drink on a table without trying to squeeze in with a bunch of randos. I know others will feel differently, I personally prefer having a seat available for each guest (or at least enough tables for people to stand and rest their plates). It’s super awkward trying to eat standing up while holding a drink, which I have had to do at cocktail style events.