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  • Writer's pictureTroy

How to Plan a Cocktail Wedding

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

Cocktail weddings are perfect for those who have decided to plan a micro wedding, although, you can still have 200 guests for a cocktail wedding. What I personally love about cocktail weddings is that you can incorporate a theme just like a traditional wedding. You'll still have have your bars, you'll still have food, and you'll still have entertainment. Think about grandma checking her watch all night wondering when it'll be all over. It happens at all weddings, maybe not grandma, but with other guests.

I've created this guide to help you plan a cocktail wedding, or decide on whether to have one or not. Let's dive right into it!


Incorporating a theme into your wedding can encapsulate the personality of the newly wed couple or perhaps you just want to throw a bad ass party!? Whatever the case can be, have fun with it. The themes are endless! Speakeasy, secret garden (perfect for outdoor spaces), beachy/tiki, classic chic, country, etc. I feel most people are attracted to themed events and look forward to it more. Having a cocktail wedding is something different, and new, that most people have not been a part of.


Design and order your invites just like any other traditional wedding. However, be sure to let your guests know that it is a cocktail wedding with light fare. Notate the duration of your cocktail reception. I recommend it to be around 3-4 hours at most. Also, let your guests know of the dress code and any other requirements.


There will be more venue spaces available to you since most guests will be mingling and dancing and seated space for every guest is not necessary. Space can be outdoors in the open air, lake side, outdoors under a tent, inside a wine cellar, a small barn, a restaurant event space, etc. Remember, you won't need as much space as you would if you were to seat everyone. Venues usually have two counts: seated and standing. You'll want to make sure your guest count fits in between those two numbers. Don't forget about the space for the dance floor.


Think about the decor just like any other traditional wedding. You won't need extravagant centerpieces, linen napkin rentals, table runners, table numbers, seating arrangements, and meal selections! That takes a lot off your plate! Smaller centerpieces/decor can be used to decorate high top tables, lounging areas, and specialty tables (dessert table, memory tables, the bars, etc.)


Since this is a cocktail wedding, you will not need to provide seating for everyone since at the same time. However, you will still need to provide seating. You can provide seating in the form of lounge areas. You will also need to supply ample high top tables. The number of lounge areas and high top tables will depend on your guest count. Off the top of my head, I would recommend 1 lounge area and 3 high top tables to every 25-35 guests. But, this all depends on your space. Shoot us an e-mail with more details of your guests count and space and we can make a more educated recommendation for you.


No expensive plated meals! Woo hoo! Save those dollar bills!! Cocktail weddings can provide guests food options by offering butlered hors'dourves and stationed hors'dourves (light & heavy). I recommend to go beyond the just light fare and to offer heavy hors'dourves options (remember, this is a COCKTAIL wedding). Heavy options can include: mac & cheese bar, slider/taco station, pizza/flatbread, etc. Light fare can include: fruit and cheese boards, shrimp cocktail station, etc. Although the food is considered "appetizers", you don't want to send guests home hungry. Ask you caterer if they have crowd pleasing bread/carb options. Chunks of bread are great for hot dips, fondues, etc. Pita chips are also a great option! Don't forget about the dessert table! I recommend offering individual portions of desserts instead of a 3 tier wedding cake. Couples can cut a ceremonial cake (small cake) for the sake of the cake cutting tradition.


This is where you can go above and beyond if you want. It is, in fact, a cocktail wedding. You can have servers butler flutes of champagne or signature drinks, offer frozen drinks (for summer weddings), splurge a little more on top shelf liquor since you'll be saving from all of that food money.


Just because it's a cocktail wedding doesn't mean you can't entertain! Of course you can --and you can get to the dancing quicker than a traditional wedding!


The timeline for a cocktail wedding is pretty much the same as a traditional, expect it's faster. Since food will be in the form of food stations guests can come and go as they please throughout the night so you won't have to wait until everyone is does eating to start the dancing --in fact, you'll be surprised how many guests will dance before the grab a bite to eat!

I hope this guide has helped you with your cocktail wedding planning journey. We are here to assist you in any way. We offer day of coordination services in the Central Pennsylvania area, however, if you are outside this area, we offer remote/virtual wedding coordination for only $250.

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