Everyone loves a cocktail party
A cocktail party style wedding reception can be very elegant, and enjoyable. Some people opt to have this type of reception as opposed to a sit-down dinner, if it's to be an evening reception. As lovely as a well organised dinner can be, the guests can sometimes get a bit lazy, sitting to eat, drink and listen to speeches for about two hours. If there is dancing, then by the time the music starts, the guests themselves are lethargic.
With a cocktail reception, as the guests arrive, they are presented with a welcome drink. The tray should have a combination of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Usually the guests are very thirsty having left their homes hours earlier. As they enter the hall, they mix and mingle with people they know and even if they don't know anyone, because of the casual environment, it is easy to smile and greet someone.
Cater for high heels and older guests
For the ladies, especially the more mature ones, chairs are appreciated. Even the younger ones in their very high heels, welcome a seat for a while. A few cocktail height tables for resting glasses will be very useful. It is good idea to have servers passing trays with different drinks, as well as taking specific orders if the desired drink in not on the tray. As the guests relax a bit, they will find their way to the bar and order their own drinks.
When to Start Serving
Within the first 30 minutes of arriving at the reception, the hors d'oeuvres should be passed around. It is very important to be mindful of the comfort of your guests and they must be served food especially if alcohol is being served.
When there is no dinner being served there should be an average of 20 pieces of food per person. You should have about 12 varieties of hors d'oeuvres.
When selecting your hors d'oeuvres it is important to include some filling ones. For example, small wraps, filled with chicken and vegetables, mini quiche, rolls with roast beef, samosas or mini rotis — the choices are endless. You can select good tasting, satisfying and inexpensive items. It is nice to include a few sweets such as mini cheese-cakes, éclairs or trifle cups.
Decorative food stations and tables
The bulk of the food items can be laid out on tables or romantically placed in decorated stations. Here you can be creative. You can decorate with plants, dried grass, paper lanterns, balloons and anything that is festive and that will enhance the wedding theme. You can also have servers passing around.
I find that when guests serve themselves at a station, they take the equivalent of a meal so they tend to eat less later on, as opposed to having someone serve an item every 15-30 minutes. It is also a better arrangement so that no one is left waiting and hoping that a server passes by. During all this casual eating and drinking, the formal part of the wedding can continue without the dreaded 'dying for a drink' feeling. Everyone moves around easily and no one is stuck at a table with people they don't know. The dancing begins, and a great time is had by all!
Mala Webber is the founder of IsleDo a wedding planning resource for couples planning a Caribbean wedding. For help with your ideas & planning send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.