Wedding Receptions Weddings

Cocktail-Style Wedding Reception

If you are thinking about not having a formal sit-down dinner at your reception, a great alternative is to have a cocktail-style reception and serve hors d’oeuvres.

Depending on your budget, you can have bow-tied clad servers pass, lay it out buffet style, have food stations located at different points around a room, or a combination of all three which allows you to cater to a wide range of tastes, while maintaining a casual, yet relaxed atmosphere.

You should have a variety of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres from tenderloin tidbits to vegetable platters served up with a wide range of dips. Hors d’oeuvre receptions are the perfect solution if you dislike the idea of a formal dinner. They are not necessarily the cheaper solution.

If you decide to serve your guests hors d’oeuvres in lieu of dinner, then the quantities and selection of items should be greater in quantity than you would normally see at a cocktailed-style reception. Experts recommend budgeting about 15 pieces per guest to be served when appetizers are the main meal.

If you find hors d’oeuvres to be draining your budget consider a potato bar with a carving station or two with roast beef, turkey or ham.

If you really have a tight budget and your venue allows you to bring food in, call your local upscale grocery store and get pricing and delivery costs.  Assign family and friends to set up the day of the event.  College students are always looking to make a buck or two so look into posting jobs for servers on local college blogs and websites.  Offer the position to professional wait staff. Who better to do a great job.

For dessert, guests can feast on your wedding cake, wedding cupcakes or a candy bar. O

If you are not having an open bar, it is a good idea to offer guests wine, champagne or a novelty cocktail. Don’t forget your non-drinking guests. Today there are several non-alcoholic wines, beers and champagne for guests who choose not to drink. A good thing to offer those who are designated drivers.

It is important to provide seating and tables at your cocktail-style reception. With such a relaxed and informal dining setting you have many more options to choose from; you can have regular tables and chairs, high cocktail tables and stools, comfortable couches, chairs with coffee or end tables, or a combination of all three.

With a hors d’oeuvres-styled reception you will allow your guests to circulate around the room, mixing and mingling as they search out tasty treats.

Here is where you save.  The printing and paper cost of not having table numbers and name tags. Best of all – no fighting about who is sitting with who!

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  • As a manager of a wedding event venue in Birmingham, AL, I can tell you that many brides these past two years are looking for ways to make their reception affordable. If you are planning to bring in your own food make sure the caterer knows that there will be a charge if he/she does not clean up after himself. A banquet hall cannot afford to “give up” the revenue from catering and at the same time pay the cost of cleaning up the mess left in the kitchen afterward.

    Make sure this is in your contract with the caterer.

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