Trending – Cocktail Receptions

By: Emily Sullivan, Emily Sullivan Events

If you are yearning to turn the typical dinner reception into a unique and more active experience, try your hand at creating the perfect cocktail reception for your next event. With an emphasis on an energetic atmosphere and guest interaction, cocktail receptions are the perfect solution when clients are looking for something fun and new.

Long popular in New Orleans for all occasions, cocktail receptions put the focus on food and entertainment over tradition and formality. Before you get too far into the planning, however, there are some important things to know.

Seating Style Matters

The one absolute in cocktail reception seating is that you can abolish the idea of a sea of formal 60” rounds neatly spaced and symmetrically arranged with eight perfect Chivaris to complete the look. Cocktail receptions are about movement and dynamics. Consider including a variety of table types, such as hi-boys with barstools, low rounds with intimate seating for two or four guests, or lounge furniture in place of all of the above. You can even offer very little seating; just keep in mind the needs of older guests and those with physical limitations. Guest comfort should always be paramount no matter what style of event you choose.

Menus to Match the Mood

One key to a successful cocktail reception is choosing a service style that fits the atmosphere, yet satisfies guest expectations. Passed hors d’oeuvres are traditional, yet appreciated, especially as guests arrive. They eliminate the waiting factor and help avoid lines. However, chef-manned stations also work beautifully at cocktail receptions and add an element of interaction. The key is to provide enough stations, distributed throughout the event space so guests never have to leave a great conversation or entertainment experience to seek out an equally awesome food encounter.

When constructing a cocktail reception menu, think of how you can incorporate the event style or theme into your food presentation. Theme stations regionally, focus on an exciting ingredient, or feature an expert who can provide insight and education to guests along with delectable flavors. Beverage stations are perfect opportunities for engagement as well. A sommelier, for example, might offer a wine tasting experience, while showtenders can wow crowds with extra style.

The Entertainment Factor

Be as creative with your entertainment as you are with your dining presentation. Plan an evening of ever-changing performers, from strolling musicians to humorists or illusionists, to awe-inspiring acts like fire-eaters and belly dancers. These are all great complements to a live band or DJ who can gradually transition the crowd from grazing and conversation to a true dance party.

Cocktail receptions are suitable for all occasions. They are relaxed in spirit, yet they can be formal in nature. Think outside of the box when you plan your next event. Try a cocktail reception approach – you may never go back!

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.