Cocktail vs Seated Wedding: Pros and Cons

Seated Wedding vs Cocktail Wedding: What are the pros and cons?

Are you wondering whether to have a traditional seated style reception for your wedding, or a more informal cocktail style event? Having worked in the industry for over twenty years, we have experienced the following five pros and five cons for each wedding style to help you make your decision.

Traditional Seated Style Wedding

– A seated reception has a classic air of elegance to it, and it’s difficult to get the same vibe at a cocktail style wedding
– Guests love having their own bit of ‘real estate’ for the evening; with a chair, place name and meal setting to themselves
– It’s a more structured evening, with dedicated times for meals and formalities, which may be your preference
– A seated reception can look very elegant on a minimal budget
– A seated wedding is considered more luxurious, and a treat for guests rather than a cocktail style reception

– Seating plan politics. You will need to give everyone a set place at the table, and this can be stressful if you are having family issues
– Some couples are concerned they may not get the chance to speak to everyone they have invited at a seated event
– Some couples worry that guests will be ‘stuck to their seats’ and not get a chance to mingle and talk with everyone
– The food at a seated wedding can be a more expensive option than a cocktail style event
– Some couples feel that a seated style wedding is too formal, and does not suit their vibe

Cocktail Wedding Reception

– A less structured evening, with loosely organised times for meals and little formality, which may be your preference
– No formal food service, the canapes and platters come out during the night in waves, which allows people to chat freely and move around the room whilst eating

– A better opportunity for the bride and groom to talk to everyone they have invited
– A more laid-back celebration with guests being able to mingle, and the chance to create a real party atmosphere
– No seating plan politics!

– You will generally need to hire cocktail furniture if you want a certain vibe, and this can be expensive, especially when you factor in a midnight pack down

– In some cases (but not at Darlington Estate) there may not be enough food chosen for the guests, leading to a Maccas run after the wedding!
– Some people are so busy drinking and chatting, that they forget to eat which can be a bit of an issue when the drinks pack is flowing
– Guests will start looking for seats after a couple of hours, and once they sit, they stay there, as seats at a cocktail wedding are generally limited. This means the mingling couples envisioned becomes less and less as people’s feet become more tired.
– With most of the cocktail weddings we have experienced, the guests leave earlier than at a seated wedding.


There you have it! We hope this aids your wedding reception planning.

Think Darlington Estate for your dream wedding in the breathtaking Perth hills.


Article Author

Megan Fraser

Events & Wedding Administrative Officer