give strolling receptions a go

give strolling receptions a go for your wedding or special event

Not every venue is conducive to a sit-down dinner. Or you may want to invite just a few too many guests that can fit comfortably. If either is the case, you may want to consider a strolling reception for your next large event.

A strolling reception is usually done in lieu of a sit-down dinner or buffet. It’s also called a cocktail buffet or simply a heavy hors d’oeuvres reception. The menu usually consists of a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres combined with several food stations or displays.

The benefits of a strolling reception are variety, creativity and space. Instead of choosing a single menu, caterers can work with a variety of ideas and cuisines. It’s not uncommon to offer multiple styles of food through different stations, for example, an Italian station, an Asian station and a Mexican station. In terms of space, since you don’t have to provide a spot at a table for every single guest, this set up takes up less space. This also works well in venues that have plenty of space, just not a large room where everyone can sit together. It’s a popular choice in historic venues without a large ballroom.

It also encourages guests to mingle. Since there are no assigned seats, guests can chat with as many guests as they wish, as opposed to just those at their table.

Here’s what to keep in mind if you are looking to host a strolling reception:

Have enough food: Most strolling receptions are meant to replace dinner, so make sure you have enough food – you don’t want your guests to go hungry! I’d recommend a mix of passed hors d’oeuvres and several stations.

Provide seating: You don’t necessarily need to provide seating for all of your guests, but you should have chairs for at least 50% of your guests. You can also provide high top cocktail tables without chairs so guests can put their food down on a surface and eat. Of course, keep your audience in mind. If your guests are primarily older, you may want to provide a higher percentage of chairs.

Be creative: This is a great opportunity to be creative with your menu choices. I love when strolling receptions offer really inventive menu options; it’s another way to keep guests talking!

Choose a space with flow: My favorite strolling receptions are in venues with a natural flow to the space. It helps when there are places for the guests to explore, such as a historic mansion with beautiful architecture or a museum with interesting exhibits. It’s harder to pull this off in a giant ballroom. You can even make the reception progressive; have each area of the venue have a totally different type of menu and décor.

Communicate: Make sure your guests have the appropriate expectations, especially if most of your guests will be expecting a traditional plated dinner. You don’t necessarily need to spell it out on a formal invitation, but you might want to share the details on an event website and tell some guests ahead of time. But as long as you provide enough food, guests won’t go hungry.

Editors Note: This post was originally featured at Jewbilation, an online marketplace for Jewish celebrations and events. Visit Jewbilation for product and service vendors in your area.

Photo Credit: { Jubilee Lau Events }



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