Cocktail vs. Sit-Down Weddings

Some Things to Consider

Deciding to tie the knot is one of the most exciting moments for couples. However, before you can walk down the aisle and say the fateful yes, there are plenty of decisions to make, starting with selecting your wedding reception.

While cocktail and seated receptions have their advantages, the question is: Which one is the right fit for your big day?

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Below, five things to keep in mind when choosing between a cocktail and sit-down wedding.


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First of all, you want to decide on the overall vibe you’re looking to create. In other words, you need to determine whether you want a wedding reception that’s formal and traditional or a reception that’s on the more casual, informal, and laid-back side.

The sit-down reception is all about creating a traditional wedding flow while including classic elements such as cake cutting, first dance, and speeches. Cocktail receptions, on the other hand, do not come with the same level of structure. They’re more relaxed, and therefore, more flexible, although you can definitely include some traditional elements and retain the same wedding flow.

Seating and Equipment

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This is another area where these two styles differ. As the name itself suggests, a sit-down wedding will require a significant amount of seating and equipment. Aside from the traditional elements such as the tables, chairs, and other wedding furniture, you’ll also need plates, glassware, napkins, and cutlery.

A cocktail wedding, on the other hand, requires fewer seats. While some experts recommend having enough seating for one-third of your guests, others suggest that there should be enough seats for 50-70% of your wedding guests. Make sure to vary the seating options, including everything from regular seats to bar stools, couches, and armchairs. If you choose this option, you’ll also need service bars, bar tables, and catering equipment, while also leaving enough space for your guests to leave their coats, jackets, and handbags.


When choosing between a cocktail and a sit-down reception, you’ll also need to consider the wedding venue. You want to pay special attention to flooring, size, and shape of the venue while also factoring in your guest list. Cocktail receptions can be a great choice when you need to fit in a larger number of guests in a tighter space while still creating a relaxed, laid-back vibe.

The style of the venue is another element to consider. A luxuriously designed venue can elevate your wedding reception and enhance your guests’ experience, so make sure it’s stunning.

For couples looking to get hitched in Australia, this could mean selecting anything from a spectacular country estate to an opulent venue reminiscent of the roaring 1920s. When it comes to ensuring an idyllic wedding destination in the NSW capital, choosing a venue is a step in the right direction for couples who want a functional yet regal design. One thing is for certain – your wedding location makes all the difference, so choose wisely.


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This is another crucial element to consider. Other than ensuring that there’s enough food to go around, you want to consider the type of food that’s being served. The meals served at a typical sit-down reception will generally follow a menu that’s been carefully constructed beforehand. Although such meals tend to be quite formal, you can make them less traditional and give them a modern spin by serving large, shared platters of food, thus creating a more intimate vibe and having your guests chatting and sharing a laugh over a meal.

As for cocktail receptions where the main aim is to get the guests mingling and capture spontaneous big day memories, the approach to food is pretty much relaxed and casual. Oftentimes, there will be grazing tables, picnics, and gourmet barbecues, while canapé services are considered cocktail weddings must-haves.



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When it comes to the costs of each type of wedding reception, it’s easy to assume that cocktail weddings are more wallet-friendly compared to their sit-down counterparts (mostly in terms of furniture requirements). While this may be true in some instances, it’s not always the case as the costs are influenced by a range of factors, most notably the number of guests invited.

While your budget is definitely something to keep in mind, you shouldn’t let the price be the deciding factor when choosing your wedding reception. Instead, think about what you want, and listen to your intuition when making the final decision.

Wrapping up

Your big day is about making your visions come to life while ensuring that your guests are having as much fun as you are. Regardless of the type of reception you go with, remember that your guests are there for you, celebrating your and your partner’s love as you enter the new stage of life.