Pittsburgh Wedding Reception Options
Cocktail receprtion vs Traditional Dinner Reception

Brides today have dozens of decisions that they need to make about their wedding day. One of the biggest decisions is whether to have a cocktail style reception or a traditional dinner reception. They might want more of a casual event but could be facing parents or grandparents who would prefer a traditional sit-down dinner. This is why we've created a list of pros and cons for wedding reception options so you can choose which style works best for your big day! Continue reading to learn more about Pittsburgh wedding reception options.

Wedding Reception Options: Cocktail Reception

Cocktail Receptions tend to have a more casual and relaxed atmosphere. Guests can mingle amongst themselves and generally feel more social when walking around the reception space since they aren't tied to one table and one group of people


Smaller Venue or Larger Guest Count

When hosting a cocktail reception, more people are up and moving around, which allows for more people in the event space. If you have a large guest list, considering a cocktail reception will allow you to have room for all of your guests since they won't all be seated at once. This would also allow you to choose a smaller venue since you can fit more people in a smaller space.

No Extensive Seating Chart

One of the hardest things about planning a wedding is figuring out the seating chart. You have to make sure everyone has a place to sit, every table has the right number of seats, and figure out the social dynamics of who is going to be comfortable sitting with whom. By hosting a cocktail style reception, you don't have to stress about a seating chart. Guests will be able to sit and mingle with whomever they'd like.

Cut Costs

Cocktail style receptions can be a great way to cut costs. Seated dinners typically run more expensive than cocktail style receptions because each person is getting a plated meal. With cocktail receptions, you can choose to have hors d'oeuvres or late-night bites for your guests, rather than hosting a dinner, which will ultimately cost less than a traditional dinner.

Be More Creative with Food and Presentation

With no seated dinner, couples can be more creative with what food they offer at their reception. Some brides have opted to bring in food trucks for their guests or set up snack stations around the venue. This gives your guests more options and variety while also keeping your ambiance more casual and relaxed.


First Timers Might Be Confused

Some guests might not have attended a cocktail style wedding before and that's ok! If you do decide to opt for a cocktail style reception, make sure to be clear on invitations or your wedding website about the style of wedding you're having so your guests won't be confused.

Not Always Cheaper

Yes, cocktail receptions do help eliminate the costs of seated dinners and escort cards, but you might also decide to add more lounge seating areas to your space to continue with that casual vibe, which could increase your rental bill. People also might be inclined to drink more since there isn't a sit-down dinner and they are up and mingling, so be prepared for a slightly higher alcohol bill as well.

More Difficult Viewing of Special Events for Guests

Since people won't be seated, some guests may have trouble seeing special events like speeches and the first dance. They may try to move their way forward or could have trouble seeing between others standing in the area. Consider where those special events are going to take place during your reception so your guests will be able to see everything they want to.

Wedding Reception Options: Dinner Reception

Dinner Receptions are the more traditional route for couples who like to stick with tradition. They give a more formal feel since everyone has a specific seat and will give your wedding a more elegant and classy ambiance.


Easier Rounds for the Bride and Groom

Most couples like to make their rounds to each table at their wedding to make sure they say hello and thank you to each of their guests. With a dinner reception, this is easier to do for the couple since guests aren't necessarily up and mingling with others. They are more likely to be seated at their table and therefore, it is easier for the bride and groom to mingle with every guest.

Furniture and Layout can be Easier and More Organized

When planning the layout of your reception, having a seated dinner could be slightly easier than a cocktail style reception. You'll know the number of tables you need to have and you won't have to worry about where to put lounge areas or food stations. Seated dinners can also appear neater and more organized to your guests. They'll know exactly where they need to be and where to go once dinner begins.

Food Arrives at the Same Time

Seated dinners also ensure that everyone at the table receives food at the same time. If you're trying to plan special events throughout your reception such as first dance, speeches, cake cutting, etc., you'll know exactly when your guests are going to be eating so you can plan accordingly.


Seating Chart

Hosting a seated dinner does require you to create a seating chart for your guests. This could take more time and effort since you'll have to figure out who is sitting where and deal with the stress that might go into that process. You may also have to spend more for escort cards so your guests know exactly where they're sitting.

Less Guests or Larger Venue

Couples may be forced to cut their guest list with a seated dinner reception. With everyone having a seat, the venue capacity could be smaller causing couples to make tough decisions about who to invite or about where they intend to host their reception. They may need to choose a larger venue than originally planned because of the amount of guests they'd like to have at their wedding.

Requires More Servers

Because each guest will be served individually, seated dinners will most likely require more servers, which could increase your catering bill. Consider this when making decisions on your catering budget and your caterer of choice.

Food Options can be More Limited

Seated dinner receptions tend to allow guests to choose between 2 or 3 entrees of the couple's choosing. This may be more limited than what guests might be able to choose from at a cocktail style reception since they could add different stations around the venue. Whether you choose a cocktail style reception or a sit-down dinner the most important thing to remember is that the day is more about you marrying the love of your life than it is about which dinner option you choose.

If you have any questions about Pittsburgh wedding reception options, contact us today at Hello Productions. We want to help you make your wedding everything you dreamed of!