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Cocktail-Hors D'oevure Wedding Receptions Can Be Fun & $ave You Money! Here's How To Make Them a Success!

Updated on June 3, 2018
Deborah McCoy profile image

Deborah McCoy is president of the American Academy of Wedding Professionals and is the author of bridal-reference books.


Cocktail-Hors d'oeuvre Receptions Require Savvy Hosts for Success

If you want to save money hosting a wedding reception, the cocktail-hors d’oeuvre reception may be the answer to your prayers. But there are definite pitfalls that you must be aware of. Follow this easy, step-by step guide to host a successful cocktail-hors d’oeuvre reception.

WARNING: Catering properties, hotels and clubs, etc. are not too receptive when it comes to cocktail-hors d’oeuvre receptions. Their profit margin is cut considerably versus what they’d make if they catered an all-inclusive dinner reception, for example.

Keep the hors d'oeuvres flowing to keep guests happy!
Keep the hors d'oeuvres flowing to keep guests happy! | Source

Bucking the System = Success!

* Catering managers will tell clients who want cocktail-hors d'oeuvre receptions that they should not have seating for all, since the idea of the cocktail-hors d’oeuvre reception is to keep people up and mingling. Hogwash! What are guests supposed to do for four hours, balance food and drinks while standing against a wall? Or what if they want to dance and celebrate?

* A cocktail-hors d'oeuvre reception has no cocktail hour. This means the bride and groom must have their photos taken before the wedding. Don't poo-poo this idea yet! Do the pictures this way: The bride, her family and bridal party will have their photos taken before the ceremony and the groom will do the same. Once the wedding ends, they will pool together for a few minutes for joint familiy and “together” shots--and then it's off to the reception!

* Here's the key to success: Keep the hors-d’oeuvres varied and flowing! Have them butlered (passed) and displayed. If people are hungry, they will leave.

* End the reception with a heavy cake, like carrot or chocolate. You want your guests to leave your wedding reception feeling full and happy.

Always serve a heavy cake like carrot or chocolate!
Always serve a heavy cake like carrot or chocolate! | Source

The Right Night +The Right Season = Success & $avings!

You may need to host this type of reception on an off-night, in an off-season, since catering properties, etc. may not be receptive to the idea of a cocktail-hors d’oeuvre reception.

For example, if you live in the northeast where the majority of people get married in summer, consider a fall or spring wedding instead. And think of Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday, which is premium.

A cocktail-hors d'oeuvre reception may look a lot better to those catering properties you've got your eye on, if you approach them in the right way and if you're open to hosting your wedding in an off-season, or on an off-day!

(c) 2018, Deborah McCoy, AAWP. All rights reserved.


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