If you love the sound of a more relaxed, informal reception then opting for a cocktail style sitation is for you! When executed well, a cocktail reception can create the most awesome atmosphere for you and your guests to enjoy. Practicality is just as important as the aesthetic, if you take the following tips into consideration in your planning, then you can rest easy knowing your reception will look and feel amazing!
1. Must-have elements
Consider the elements of a party that are non-negotiable for you. These are things that really make an event for you and you couldn't picture a party without them (think practicalityhere, too). A dance floor, a bar, food trucks, lawn games, the list goes on. By knowing which elements you just have to have, it will help you picture how you want things to look and how you want everything set out. If you are unsure of your style, this list will also help to pinpoint what kind of vibe you want to achieve. Often, couples opting for a cocktail style reception are after a chilled out atmosphere as opposed to something more formal.
2. Floor planning
Once you've pinpointed the elements that are must-have's for you, you need to think about how you want things set out. Do you want an outdoor dance floor, or would prefer it inside a tipi or marquee? Do you want a bar inside your tent, or would you prefer a caravan bar set up next to the tent? Do you want your Dj or band undercover, or outside under the twinkly lights?
3. Adequate Seating
It is so important to have enough seating for your guests. We like to go by a 70/30 rule. At least 70% of your guests should be able to be seated at one time, while the rest are on the dance floor or standing up and mingling. Give your guests the option. The worst is when your feet are killing you from dancing all nigth and all of the seats are taken!
4. Allow for variety
Ensure you have a variety of seating options spread throughout the space. We like to encorporate a variety of high bars and stools, relaxed lounges, rugs and cushions, and even a few tables and chairs. It's crucial to consider the age range of your guests - think about what they would feel more comfortable sitting in. Would your grandparents prefer to sit at a traditional table and chair as opposed to a high stool? Usually yes. So make sure you have accomodated for this.
5. Indoor-outdoor flow
If you are having a tipi or marquee, make sure to allow for plenty of furniture spread through both the indoor and outdoor spaces. By utilising both the interior and exterior spaces with furniture and lighting, this ensures for a seamless and inclusive feel no matter where you find yourself mingling at the reception! We like to pop some high bars and stools on the inside of edge of the tipi or marquee so they are just inside undercover, it means both areas will be connected and feel like one large seamless space.
This where you can creative and really create that moody atmosphere! We love using plenty of festoon lights draped from nearby trees, or hung in a zig zag formation from the tipi out to some bamboo poles or trees and back again. Ligthing is one of our favourite elements to play with in our cocktail reception setups. Just check out some of the photos below to see what we mean!