Cocktail Wedding vs Sit-down

May 28, 2021

The age old battle over the best vibe for your wedding reception, cocktail vs sit-down. I always say that the answer is relative to the couple and their guests. If you are unsure which way to go then read ahead as I breakdown the pro’s and con’s as well as some ideas for both options.

A cocktail wedding is a style of service, food is usually served on trays, roaming direct to your guests. You also have the option for food stations or food trucks which are self serve but you still have cocktail style furniture.

It is recommended to have “seating” for roughly 70% of your guests, usually with a mix of furniture styles.

A sit-down wedding is an allocated seat at a table for all guests with the option of an individual plated meal or family style shared banquet.

Both have pro’s and con’s. Let’s break them down. Also if you don’t love a pro/con list we probably can’t be best friends 😉

Cocktail Wedding Pro’s

  • A party vibe
  • Not formal
  • No need to do a seating chart
  • Guests will mingle more

Cocktail Wedding Con’s

  • Guests don’t have an allocated seat they can retreat to
  • Not suited to elderly guests
  • Usually more expensive to style as you need more furniture than just tables and chairs
  • Food can be missed by guests
  • It can be hard to coordinate dietary requirements
  • Your styling won’t look as good as guest tables and chairs, if this is important to you

Pricing for your food is usually roughly the same as it’s just served differently, not necessarily less of it. If you are going down the Cocktail route I would suggest a grazing table throughout your event with rotating items. Perhaps charcuterie to start and then sample platters of the canapes being served so guests can have access to all of your menu.

Sit-down Wedding Pro’s

  • All guests have an allocated seat and don’t have to think for themselves (they love this, it’s a wedding, let’s celebrate not use brains)
  • Your space will look amazing with table styling
  • You can see everyone during your speeches
  • You can have an element of cocktail style as guests arrive so best of both
  • You know where everyone is seated so you can curate your guests experience a little more
  • Your caterers can better coordinate dietary requirements
  • Place settings are amazing. Who doesn’t love a place card and a personalised menu?!

Sit-down Wedding Con’s

  • If all of your guests are friends they usually have to wait until after dinner to mingle with people outside their table crew
  • You can’t be as versatile with your menu as you are serving limited courses
  • The party vibe won’t kick in until after formalities, unless you mix it up in which case, get it, guys!

A sit-down wedding, when planned well can usually incorporate both styles. Cocktail for arrival, sit-down for mains and formalities and then roving desserts and cocktail for dancing.

So, if you can’t tell I am partial to a sit-down reception. Nothing beats mingling with everyone during canapes and cocktails on arrival and then retreating to your seat next to your partner or friends for a lovely dinner. But I am a sucker for the details, if you prefer more low-key then a well planned cocktail party will suit you perfectly.

Rhi Smith x