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How to Replace Your Wedding Dinner with an Ongoing Cocktail Hour

Everyone's favorite part of the big day doesn't have to be just one hour long.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Joel Serrato

Cocktail hour is inarguably every guest's favorite part of a wedding. Sliders. Sushi. Bacon wrapped dates. Tiny grilled cheeses! It's a shame it has to end at all. Or does it? If you're looking for a more casual type of dining service for your reception, why not consider an extended cocktail hour to keep guests well-fed and happy throughout the night? To do it correctly, follow these tips from planner Lyndsey Hamilton, founder of Lyndsey Hamilton Events.

 

Related: Wedding Cocktail Hour Ideas

 

Think About Seating

Even if your plan is to serve cocktail hour-style food all night long, you'll still need one hallmark of a classic reception: seating. "You must provide enough seating for all guests," says Hamilton. "Although you might not want to have all guests seated at tables, there is nothing worse for guests than not finding a seat throughout dinner service and having to stand while eating!" Get creative with your seating areas, incorporating lounge furniture, smaller tables, and nontraditional seating areas to keep the casual feel intact.

 

Thirds, Anyone?

Figuring out how much food to serve for an informal dinner service is a bit of a guessing game. Instead of one serving of meat, chicken, or fish per guest, you must plan for continual grazing, Hamilton explains. "It's imperative to provide enough food. If your focus is small-plates, make sure that your caterer has allowed for guests to have several servings," the pro adds. Consult your vendors on this one, as your caterer will definitely have a good idea about how much of everything to make based on your unique food combinations and the number of guests.

 

Don't Forget the Essentials

If you're working in a venue that requires you to provide dishes and silverware, don't forget that guests go through multiple plates during a casual meal, so your rental count will be higher.