Join Now   |  Log In   |  Write A Review   |  I'm a Guest   |  Are You A Vendor?
The Answers service is being moved into the WeddingWire Forums.
WeddingWire Forums is an active, social community of brides and wedding professionals that can provide answers for any questions you may have.

Everything about a cocktail reception (including timeline)....
I have a ton of questions about my cocktail reception... I've never been to a cocktail reception, so I don't really know what's standard.

First of all, our wedding is at 6:30, with a cocktail reception following (probably around 7/7:30). Is that too early to have a cocktail reception? Will people be upset there isn't a full meal? We're doing lots of hours devours and an open bar.

Second, I have centerpieces in mind, but other than that, how do I set the tables? I don't have tall tables, just 60" round ones. What do I put on the tables other than the centerpieces? Do I need a seating arrangement? Where do the napkins, plates, silver wear go for a cocktail reception?

Thirdly, what's the proper time for a cock tail reception? We are going to have dancing, cake, announcements, toasts, throwing of the bouquet and garter.

Please help me! I've only been to one wedding, so my exposure is sooo limited! Help!

Married: 10/17/2009
Posted On: Dec 15, 2008 at 5:04 PM | Vendors are allowed | Add to My Watchlist | Flag As Inappropriate

4 Answers This question is closed for answers.

Married: 09/13/2008
Reviews: 5
Dec 15, 2008 at 9:14 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
This is EXACTLY what my wedding was. The ceremony was at 6 the reception started at 6:30 & went to 11:30. We had 9 different butlered hors deorves 3 stations, a mashed potato martini bar, a 5 hr open bar, a venetian table & wedding cake. The hors deorves went throughout the nigh until about 10:00 then they brought out the venetian table. EVERYONE said the food was awesome, they were stuffed & it was the most fun they ever had at a wedding. Everyone literally danced ALL night. I did do table seating arrangements but it was a small number 65 people. I used giant martini glasses w/ a fighting fish swimming around for centerpieces & mini martini glasses w/ super shiny jordan almonds for favors. The venue did set the tables with silverware, plates, glasses etc. Not a single person was upset that there wasn't a "full" meal, everyone said it was so much better than dried out chicken that you usually get. Have a blast sounds like you already have it under control! Any question ask me!

Married: 10/24/2009
Dec 15, 2008 at 7:01 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
well when I think of cocktail hour I think of the time between the ceremony and reception, but if this is what your reception is going to be, then the time you have is totally fine, the best best is to talk to your D.J and photographer, if they have been to enough weddings and have the experience they can help A LOT, my photographer helped me out a lot with just little things I had never thought of. My friend had a reception with just hours devours and it was fantastic, left more time to dance,and have fun. I wouldn't worry about a seating chart,I don't even want to deal with it....too much stress for me. I searched google for how the events should go and a lot of people said that working with the D.J is the best bet, they can help out a lot and give you lots of help. I would have a table for plates, silverwear and so forth since it it is not sit down and then you dont have to worry about setting up. Just do something simple for centerpieces, you can never go wrong with candles!
Dec 15, 2008 at 10:37 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
If you want the true cocktail Chic feel. as the venue to swap out half the 60 inch tables and bring in some fun Lounge seating and Belly Bar tall tables. many party rental places are stocking this hot trendy look.
The cost is not too high and the look is amazing.
We did a wedding reception where we brought in white leather couches and low sleek cocktail tables. we added low japanese trays with green orchids and dozens of votives. On the low tables, and sleek pillar vases with orchids and floating candles on the traditional rounds.

Tables did not have to be set with china, so we placed glass mirrors with favors on them for sparkle.

Speak to your Caterer about timing the "tastings" and make sure you have a Knock out DJ to keep the party going.
Up light the walls and add a gobo to the dance floor for more WOW!

Programs at the door can help guests know what to expect. And the right theme drinks and a great cake will round out the fun.

Married: 09/12/2009
Reviews: 6
Dec 16, 2008 at 10:17 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
If your doing a cocktail reception and not just a cocktail hour then I would just go about it like a regular reception... like other people have said definitely talk to your DJ about the order of events (ie, bouquet toss, cake cutting etc.) and set up a time line to keep everything running smoothly... I don't think you need to set up tables like you would at a formal sit down dinner but you can always do cute fun things on different size and shaped tables so people can choose where they want to sit... You can still do centerpieces at the different tables... and set up the plates forks etc at a main table people can take them from and go on to the different places were appetizers will be set up... good luck

Vow of Conduct