5 Practical Tips for Styling a Cocktail Wedding Reception!

5 Practical Tips for Styling a Cocktail Wedding Reception!

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Planning a cocktail wedding? We love the relaxed vibes of a stand-up event, but many of our couples find them trickier to style than a traditional seated reception.

So, what kind of furniture works best for a cocktail wedding? How do you figure out the right quantities? And what about making sure everything works together on the day?

Read on as we answer all of these questions (and more!) with our top tips for styling a cocktail wedding reception below.

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Image by The Latest

1. Consider Your Venue

When it comes to furniture selections, be inspired by your wedding venue and let this guide you. You’ll want to choose furniture that complements the existing “vibe” of your location and makes sense for the space. Read our top tips for choosing your wedding venue here!

Think about the kind of colours, textures, scenery and styling elements already present at the venue, and use this as a starting point. Getting hitched at a coastal venue? Crisp whites, pale timbers, natural linens and rattan will be your friend. Hosting an outdoor wedding? Achieve those perfect garden party vibes with linen lounges, picnic rugs and umbrellas. Whether your location is rustic, bohemian or contemporary, use your furniture to work WITH your venue design, rather than against it.

Along with the aesthetics of your venue, pay attention to the functional side of things, too. The size and shape of your venue should also influence your furniture selections. Think about the foot traffic on the day and the “flow” you want to create.

For example: lounge packages tend to work better in the corner of a room rather than smack-bang in the middle, round bar tables (as opposed to square or rectangular) are ideal for narrow balconies, and scattered ottomans work perfectly to fill any awkward spaces. Again – focus on working with the venue, not against it!

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Image by Shane Shepherd

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Image by Shane Shepherd

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Image by Shane Shepherd

2. Supply Enough Seats

The next step will be figuring out how much furniture you need to hire according to your guest numbers. Remember, not all of your guests will be sitting down at any one time, but you still want to supply enough seats to keep everyone comfortable.

So, what’s the sweet spot? In our experience, we recommend providing enough “seats” for between 50 – 70% of your guests (50% at an absolute minimum). These “seats” can be in the form of lounges, stools, ottomans, picnic rugs, bench seats, dining chairs and armchairs.

Of course, you’ll want to keep the ages of your guests in mind, too. If you have a younger crowd, your quantities might lean closer to the 50% mark – but if you have lots of older family members and elderly guests, it’s a good idea to include some additional seating.

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Image by Cloud Catcher Studio

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Image by Cloud Catcher Studio

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Image by Cloud Catcher Studio

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Image by Cloud Catcher Studio

3. Mix Up Your Furniture

Now for the fun part – choosing your furniture! We find it’s best to include a good mix of different seating options such as high bars and bar stools, lounge packages, ottomans, cafe tables and dining chairs. 

Using a combination of both high and low seating is the most aesthetically pleasing and functional option. The varying heights will help to break up the space and add dimension and depth to your venue, while the different seating options will cater to both young and old guests.

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Image by Feather and Finch

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Image by Feather and Finch

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Image by Feather and Finch

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Image by Bonnie Jenkins

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Image by Bonnie Jenkins

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Image by Bonnie Jenkins

4. Keep It Cohesive

Creating a cohesive look is key for cocktail wedding styling. You want all of your furniture pieces to work harmoniously together without any jarring elements.

This doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match your furniture styles (we actually love an eclectic look!) – it simply means having some common threads that tie everything together. It’s a good idea to choose 1-2 base colours and 2-3 complementary colours to ensure a consistent look. For example: you might choose white and timber as your base colours, and build on this with pops of blush, dusty pink and burnt orange.

Similar materials and textures are another way to create a cohesive feel. For example, you could pair our Indie lounges with some scattered velvet ottomans and tie it together with some velvet cushions. Or, pair gold bar stools with other gold elements such as coffee tables or vases.

Floral arrangements are another excellent way to create a sense of cohesion throughout the space – use them on your bar tables, coffee tables, backdrops and service bars to keep things consistent.

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Image by Ivy Road Photography

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Image by Ivy Road Photography

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Image by Ivy Road Photography

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Image by Fennel and Fern Photo

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Image by Fennel and Fern Photo

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Image by Fennel and Fern Photo

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Image by Fennel and Fern Photo

5. Go Big With Your Bar

Finally, don’t forget the bar! Your bar area will be a central hub of activity, so dress it up and create a statement with it. Think: epic backdrops, neon signage, oversized florals, striped umbrellas or beautiful glassware.

If you’re hosting over 80 guests, we also recommend pushing 2 or 3 bars together to make things more practical.

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Image by Cassandra Ladru

Want some help choosing furniture for your cocktail wedding? We love putting suggestions together and bringing your vision to life! Get in touch with our team on (07) 5523 9564 to chat through your wedding plans, or send us an enquiry online here.

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