(Closed) When you see “Cocktail” reception on an invite what do you expect?

posted 8 years ago in Food
Post # 3
Member
5784 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2011

I wouldn’t expect a full dinner but I would expect liquor as opposed to beer/sangria.

Post # 5
Member
613 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

i had a “cocktail and hors d’oeurves” reception.  the ceremony started at 7:30 pm.  The reception started immediately after the ceremony, so like 8 pm – midnight.  DJ, lots of drinks, passed hot food and stations of cold food/dessert.  i put “cocktail and hors d’oeurves reception to immediately follow” directly on the invite.  I planned for 10-15 pieces/person + cake.  we had a full bar.  i also had a mix of tables for 10 and cocktail tables for 2. i believe i only provided enough seating for like 80% of the guests.

through word of mouth and the website, i tried to convey to all of my guests that dinner would not be served and only adults were invited.  i had a great time, younger people had a great time, but some people really didnt get it.  i had guests asking me – at 11 pm – when dinner was going to be served.  and people showed up with their kids (depsite phone calls, very clear RSVP cards, etc). so just be REALLY clear and keep in mind that some people are not going to pay attention/remember/care no matter what.

hope it turns out great!!  we had SOOOO much fun.  it was more like a party.

Post # 6
Member
4480 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: March 2010 - Calamigos Ranch

I would expect cocktails if you wrote cocktail reception, but I think sangria can count. 😉 I would say “cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception”; that ought to answer everyone’s questions.

Post # 7
Member
3125 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

Cocktail reception to me: I wear a saucy cocktail dress, heels, drink martinis and mingle and dance. I would be a little disheartened to go to a cocktail party with no.. cocktails.

Post # 8
Member
4485 posts
Honey bee

Heavy appetizers that are filling enough to make a full meal without being served on a regular dinner plate, which is 20+ pieces per person as opposed to 6 pieces per person that a plated meal equals. Also, enough tables and chairs for each guest to be able to sit down is a must.

Instead of calling it a “cocktail” reception, which to most people for whatever reason gives them the idea that they will be starved and then all your food goes to waste because everyone is stuffed before they arrive, call it “heavy hors d’oerves” reception. Make sure to have a few more options such as a carving station with rolls to make mini-sandwiches, chicken tenders with dipping sauces, coconut shrimp, eggrolls, etc. Browse the appetizers section of any catering menu online and put together a list of what you think your guests will enjoy. Salad is difficult to eat in that setting and you don’t need it. Most people won’t miss it either. If you want a veggie option, talk to your caterer and see what they are able to do.

Be aware that not everyone likes beer or wine. If that is all you can afford, then that’s what you serve. Everyone else can drink soda. Have coffee available, especially for older guests. Lemonade is also inexpensive and appealing to most people for a non-alcoholic option. The word “cocktail” originally meant that a wide variety of drinks were served, and beer and wine were not options at all. But nowadays, there is no single definition that anyone agrees on.

If you want it to last more than the standard 2-3 hrs where guests mingle the entire time, have a dj and dance the night away.

Post # 9
Member
3162 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

Second Melissabegins re: cocktails at a cocktail reception, but as far as food goes I would be expecting pretty much what you said you’d be having.

Post # 10
Member
1927 posts
Buzzing bee

I agree with the group that people will expect actual cocktails rather than just beer and wine.  Also.. if you are asking guests to arrive around 6pm.. that’s dinner time.  So you should def. try to have hot appetizers that could replace a meal.  If you are only going to have a cheese tray and a veggie tray, you should push the event back to about 8pm so people can eat dinner beforehand.

Post # 11
Member
2201 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

@FutureMrsMorgan – thanks for the info! We’re doing a cocktail & hors d oeuvres reception too – starting at 8pm with no kids. Did 80% seating work for you (I think that’s approximately what we’ll have, with high boys for standing folk to use for eating/drink placement)?

Post # 12
Member
1482 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

If I saw Cocktail Reception, I would probably encourage myself to have a sandwich before the wedding, just to be on the safe side.  No food + wine = easily tipsy Miss Root. 🙂

However, I too would be a bit dismayed to arrive to a “Cocktail Reception” that was not actually serving cocktails, I see your dilemma in that there really isn’t a cute way to say “Heavy Appetizers and Beer & Wine Reception”.  You might have family pass along via word of mouth that you will have plenty of food available and that you are serving just beer & wine.  Otherwise, you could put “heavy appetizers will be served” on your wedding website (if you have one).  I really think most people will be happy as long as you are serving alcohol, no matter what the form, especially if it is free. 

 

Post # 14
Member
4485 posts
Honey bee

Why do people think that “heavy appetizers” or “cocktail reception” means no food at all or very light food? If you are serving alcohol, you are required to serve food because people will get drunk instantly if you don’t and the venue will be held responsible for anything that does happen.

Heavy appetizers means you are being served twice or 3x the amount of food that you would be fed at a plated dinner but the presentation and serving sizes are different. Also, the food is very filling to the point that no one should go home hungry, and if they do, that is not the hosts’ fault for the guest not eating what was offered. Heavy appetizers are not finger sandwiches and fruit trays, despite what many people naturally assume. They are the choices that are found in the frozen appetizer section at Costco.

Post # 15
Member
2090 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Agree with others that I would expect cocktails (even just a selection of cocktails in addition to beer/wine).

Food-wise, I think I would expect something more than just “cheeses, veggies, chips and dip” but definately not a full meal. Maybe just a few more substantial appetizers, in addition to the cheese/veggies/chips&dip? Sliders, mac and cheese and salad would be totally fine!! Or, something similar to that. 🙂

Post # 16
Member
234 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

I agree with @LGenzIf I saw cocktail, I’d expect less food and more liquor.  Not that I’d be dissapointed at all to find more food and signature drinks, but if you asked me to write down what I’d expect at a “cocktail reception” I’d say probably full bar (or at least a few kinds of liquor), but then only a few snacks (cheese table, veggie table) and then maybe cake.  What you’re planning sounds fabulous, but I think I would call it an hors d’oeurves reception.  That would make me expect more food,  in line with the amount you’re planning, and just beer/wine.

Either way, I don’t think it’s a huge deal if you call it a cocktail reception.  People may be a little surprised, but more like like “Oh sliders! Score! hmm, thought there’d be mixed drinks… Whoa mac and cheese!” than “What?! No full bar! But the invite said cocktail!”

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