Wediquette Wednesday: Is it ever inappropriate to have a cocktail reception?

Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’s a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. This week, we’re talking cocktail receptions.


Question: My wedding is next summer and thankfully, we have the church and venue booked and almost everything planned out. The only thing left to do is firm up the cocktail reception. We’ve waffled on it, because while we’ve lived here in New Orleans for several years, our respective families are all coming in from the Midwest. It wasn’t a tradition either of us grew up with, so we weren’t sure if it was something we should incorporate into the wedding day celebrations. Our families are light drinkers, but not what we’d call partiers. If we do it, the location will be at the reception venue, but outside the doors in the courtyard. So, I guess my question is, is it ever inappropriate to have a cocktail reception?

Answer: Cocktail receptions are becoming more and more common outside of New Orleans, so chances are your family has likely encountered one. Either way, it’s a great opportunity to introduce people to the celebratory culture of the Big Easy. If drinking alcohol is against the religious or cultural beliefs of either of your families or if it is prohibited at the venue (for example, at a Baptist church), then it’s off of the table. In your case, I see no reason not to do, for example, simple champagne and, or champagne cocktails in the courtyard with a few light bites, such as fresh shrimp and oysters for a little local flavor and perhaps quiet background music. Practically speaking, the cocktail reception is an elegant way to keep antsy guests occupied while you and your new spouse finish up post-wedding photos and have a little alone time over dinner before the reception kicks off. Be sure however to keep the duration to a minimum, so that your guests aren’t overserved before the real party even starts.


Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email


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