How to Plan a Cocktail Wedding Reception


Weddings are no longer about the stuff of church legends and wedding receptions nowadays are not always formal by standard; instead, many playful aspects are introduced into the ceremony, demonstrating the spectacular bond of the couple. With its sense of fun and festivity, it is no wonder that the cocktail party is emerging as a growing trend in wedding receptions. Not only is this type of reception more open to unique variety and casual presentation, but it is also more affordable than a traditional wedding. If you feel it is better not only for your pocketbook but also for your style as a couple to scale down the extravagance and keep things simpler, then a cocktail wedding reception may be the solution for you.

How to Plan a Cocktail Wedding Reception

If you are considering a cocktail wedding party for your big day, please read on for some helpful tips and tricks that will guide you to both success and happiness for a wonderful wedding experience.

Guest lists

You need to consider who will be attending as any other kinds of receptions. Making up your guest list will help you plan many of the steps to come, including knowing how much food and alcohol will be necessary for the reception. It’s not uncommon to have budget in mind when doing this, so make sure to keep the costs affordable for your tastes.


After your guest list is complete, you can move onto the next step, which is preparing and sending out your invitations. In your invitation, make sure to enforce clearly the fact your wedding is for a cocktail party with drinks and appetizers, not a sit down dinner. One helpful suggestion is to plan the wedding at an after dinner time, like 8 pm, as guests will be much more likely to eat dinner before attending.

Cocktail time

After you complete your invitations, you can start planning one thing many of your guests will be looking forward to, and perhaps a large expense for you: the alcohol. You want your selection of alcoholic drinks to have enough variety to appease everybody in attendance. One well-known rule is to stock your bar with at least one liter of rum, tequila, gin, and whiskey, plus six litres of vodka per one hundred guests. Don't forget to include red and white wines as well, typically both in twenty-four counts. Beer also has to be a part of the plan, and you will probably know what types of beers your guests prefer, so try to stick to what you feel will be most popular. Last, don’t forget about some basic mixers, like orange juice, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and tonic water. Soda in both regular and diet is also a necessity, and you can also utilize it for mixers.


For your cocktail wedding reception, it is best to plan for hors d’oeuvres that are easy to grab and eat, and that don’t create a mess for your guests. Most guests are going to be eating while they socialize, so they want food that is both tasty and easy to handle. If you aren’t sure of exactly what type of food this might entail, ask your caterer, and he or she can help you plan accordingly. Another thing to pay attention to is the variety to satisfy all of your guests. For instance, some guests may be vegetarian, so make sure to include a variety that is also meant to count them in the party.

Venue & décor

One of the best things about a cocktail wedding reception is that you can host one almost anywhere, and this can add some unique flavor to your wedding. Any venue you can rent out is fair game. A restaurant is a great place for those on a budget because you can package your rental with the food costs and other more efficient plan. It’s also cost effective to host one at a friend or family member’s house that has a nice yard and a roomy place to save some cash. Remember you can go easy on the decorations, but flowers are always a necessity, as they are not only traditional but lively and beautiful. Select flowers and colors you feel are special for you and your spouse.

Dress code

The nice thing about a cocktail wedding reception is that it is nontraditional, so ready? Anything goes. It’s your wedding so dress the way you want to, and ask your guests to follow suit. If you don’t feel like spending thousands on a dress and just want a simple, casual dress, go for it, and tell your guests to dress casually. What you decide to wear should guide how you ask your guests to dress, and many couples have been known to cut costs here, too.


There is nothing wrong with being even more nontraditional and just playing a preplanned playlist from your iPod — which is a great way to save money. However, if you want to take it up a notch, book a DJ or a small band of no more than three people. This concept has to do with the size of a cocktail wedding reception — chances are the venue will be smaller, and there won’t be enough space for a large, traditional band, and plus, there’s no need for it.


So, how does one organize the nontraditional cocktail wedding reception? Typically, this type of party moves along faster than the normal reception, and you will still want to share a few important moments with your guests. First, start with hors d’oeuvres about sixty minutes before first dances, and then let people enjoy themselves by eating, drinking and dancing, which will be about two hours and then move to the cake cutting. Last, finish off the party with bouquet tossing and toasting for all people here.