Christine
Beginner March 2022

Is a cocktail reception alright?

Christine, on November 19, 2021 at 12:22 AM Posted in Wedding Reception 0 31
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We're trying to figure out if it's alright and cost-effective to do a cocktail reception rather than a full meal one, let's say at 2pm? Most of our guests will be driving from Arizona to Vegas which is our venue. We also wanna go to a bar with some friends after the event.

31 Comments

Latest activity by Maja, on November 25, 2021 at 7:42 AM
  • Rosie
    Rockstar February 2022
    Rosie ·
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    Mmm my sister wanted a cocktail event and here in Australia at least, it was going to cost more than a sit down meal, because it’s way more alcohol than food, which is expensive. They ended up having to do a sit down due to covid but I think they would have spent a lot more if they’d been able to go ahead with cocktail
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  • JM Sunshine
    JM Sunshine ·
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    If your venue was local, then cocktails/heavy apps are okay (although 2:00 is early for most people to have cocktails). However, if guests have to drive an hour or longer, then providing a meal is more appropriate.
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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    Oh i read an article somewhere in the net about this, too. That cocktails sometimes cost more.
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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    I thought 2pm is a good cocktail time. Oops! Hmm, my partner and i really want a laid back type of reception in a budget friendly kind. I'll probably have to look for a meal reception option.
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  • Shannon
    Dedicated July 2022
    Shannon ·
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    You have to feed people at least appetizers or they will be very drunk.
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  • Rabreena
    Devoted October 2021
    Rabreena ·
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    I think that no matter how many guests you have at your wedding, they will purposely not eat in order to eat/indulge at your wedding, so please keep in mind that you will need to provide a substantial amount of hefty appetizers in order to satisfy their hunger along with making sure people don't become drunk.
    My opinion is to go ahead and provide a meal, doesn't have to sit down/plated as this usually adds more to the cost.

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  • M
    VIP January 2019
    Maggie ·
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    It all depends on your caterer and the menu you choose whether or not a cocktail reception is cheaper than a full meal. You need to serve your guests sufficient food no matter what, and appetizers can be more expensive because it's more labor for the caterer to make a bunch of small bites than to do a plated meal or buffet.

    Your guests are traveling a not insignificant distance to (and from) your wedding, and they will be hungry. Feed them and all will be well.

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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    Thank ya'll! On point! We're thinking of doing lunch reception. As from what i can tell from the brochure and packages i received from my inquiries, day wedding ceremony & full meal reception like buffet is less expensive than dinner ones.
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  • Heather
    Expert November 2021
    Heather ·
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    Do all your guests drink though? If not then it won't be worth it. However, if you have a lot of guests coming from Arizona I'm sure they would want to eat. As a guest at other weddings I always look forward to the food. It's like top 3 for me at least lol. Especially if I plan on drinking, I will most definitely get hungry.

    My husband and I did a backyard wedding with 50 people total and we just did a taco truck for food because we LOVE Mexican food. And our guests actually loved that idea because it was so laid back and it represented who we are (since we by all means are not fancy lol). My husband and I like to drink and so did our guests that we invited. Therefore, food and drinks (especially) were important for us. We had a margarita machine, beers, wines, truly's, and hard liquor and those were a hit too!

    So, what I'm trying to get at is, evaluate who your guests are and determine food and drinks through that way Smiley smile

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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    Aaaah yeah!! Omg i should have clarified. I meant cocktail type but with appetizers/hors d'oeuvre. We actually had a backyard minimony with like 30 people nearest and closest to us here in Houston. But we like to have a wedding with more families and friends, too. The minimony we had were also just hors d'oeuvres and it was so cost effective and people liked it - but yeah there were just so few people, too. We had empanada, chicken wings, lumpia, macarons, cake, wine and beer. However, i'm not sure if that would still be an okay set-up in Vegas for a larger group of 80.
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  • Jacks
    Master November 2054
    Jacks ·
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    I would plan a lunch reception and serve a meal, and have beer, mimosas, caesars etc.

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  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
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    If I were traveling a significant distance for a wedding, I'd expect a full meal.

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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    That'a true, though. Even me! Thanks
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
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    More often than not, a cocktail reception is actually much more expensive than a full dinner. Because of the labor involved. It’s more economical to serve a full meal than to make several hundred bite size pieces. People think it’s cheaper to serve appetizers only because they are picturing cheese and meat platters or frozen appetizers from Costco that you pop in the oven. That’s not what caterers serve. If you have alcohol, regardless if it’s a meal time or not, you need enough appetizers to soak up the alcohol so you don’t have guests getting sick and drunk from empty stomachs. Cheese and cracker platters alone are not substantial enough to offset the alcohol.


    If cost is a concern, get restaurant drop off catering for a full meal. In many social circles and the food industry, 2pm is the tail end of lunch. If you have guests who are driving especially that distance, it’s courteous to offer the equivalent of a full meal. With heavy appetizers which are commonly served at cocktail receptions, you need at least 10-20 pieces per person. A standard plated meal that you will be served whether at a high end avant-garde hotel restaurant or from many wedding caterers is the equivalent of 4-6 heavy appetizers (for example: each guest gets one coconut shrimp, one slice of prime rib on Hawaiian roll, and maybe 2 chicken waffle bites). How someone can get a full meal that way is questionable, yet they say guests are never served enough food to leave not hungry with a cocktail reception, when the opposite is true more often than not.
    Vegas has a plethora of options including restaurant banquet rooms open at lunchtime of every cuisine. If you go off Strip toward where the locals eat, you will save an incredible amount of money and no one will leave hungry.
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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    Thank you for this. We're already looking at catering option and restaurant and lunch packages for a reception. I just need to sort them out.
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
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    You’re welcome. Which restaurants did you have in mind? Any certain type of food?
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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    We received brochure and menu packages from Lawry's the prime rib, Art Houz, rennaisance, masterpiece cuisine, cafe hollywood. We're waiting for the rest to respond back to us. We don't really have food preference but my partners families and friends are mostly mexican american. I don't have a guest on my side, so yeah.
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    All those are super expensive for the city and lean toward avant-garde. How committed are you to staying on Strip? If you go a few blocks to a couple miles away, there are many more options: Casa Don Juan on Main St has excellent Mexican or for steak Hitching Post on Las Vegas Blvd or Primal Steakhouse on Maryland Parkway. There are many Mexican restaurants in the city if that appeals to your group.
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  • Christine
    Beginner March 2022
    Christine ·
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    We kind of wants to stay on the strip to give the guests a really vegas feel. I'm although okay with off the strip ceremony and reception maybe lunch reception for the matter and just invite the friends for a night hang out afterwards. But thanks for the suggestion, i will look into it and inquire with them.
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
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    Check out the restaurants in the various hotels. Binions, Planet Hollywood, etc
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