Tips for Throwing a Wedding Without a Sit-Down Dinner


While weddings are traditionally hosted with a seated dinner, there is nothing wrong with bending the rules. Many couples are choosing to forgo a classic sit-down dinner for a more inventive meal option. Planning a wedding that breaks from tradition can sometimes feel like uncharted territory, but these tips will help you plan the perfect seated dinner-free wedding reception.


No Dinner Doesn’t Mean No Food

Sure, you may not be doing a full-blown sit-down dinner, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate over some sort of food! You and your guests will likely get a bit hungry, so you’ll need to have at least some appetizers offered at your reception. This is especially important for ceremonies that end around dinner time, and also important if you’ll be serving alcohol. If you know you are opting out of a traditional sit-down dinner but don’t know what food you want to serve, here are a few ideas:


  • Brunch Reception: Maybe you want to host your wedding earlier in the day, but still want to celebrate over a sit-down meal with friends and family. That is where a brunch wedding comes in! Brunch weddings are typically cheaper than your average dinner reception, and they can be as formal or casual as you’d like. Plus, you’ll be able to meet the tastes of both the sweet and savory crowds. Work with your wedding caterer to develop a delicious and creative brunch menu.
  • Dessert Reception: A dessert reception is also a fun idea, especially if you have a sweet tooth! Since it will be in the evening, it is also a great idea for those who still like the idea of dancing the night away with friends and family. In addition to the wedding cake (if you are choosing to get one), serve some of your favorite desserts for guests to enjoy.
  • Food Truck Frenzy: A fun trend that has been popping up over the past few years is hiring food trucks to serve snacks or meals at weddings. While some couples opt to bring in a food truck later in the evening for some late-night snacks, you could make a food truck (or multiple food trucks) your main meal event! This gives guests the opportunity to choose what they want in the moment and is perfect for more laid-back couples.
  • Cocktail Party: A cocktail party reception is perfect for couples who still want a more traditional feeling celebration. This type of reception can be as casual or formal as you’d like, so it works with any style of celebration. Guests can snack on delicious appetizers to their heart’s content as they mingle and dance the night away. You can have caterers passing around hors d’oeuvre, small appetizer stations, or a mix of the two.
  • Potluck Buffet: For smaller and more casual celebrations, a potluck where guests bring their signature dishes can be perfect. Keep in mind that this does depend on the size of your guest list and where guests are coming from. For larger guest lists, a potluck can be difficult – you’ll either end up with way too much food or not enough! Also, guests coming in from out of town might have a difficult time making something. However, if you are throwing a smaller, more local celebration, a potluck buffet can be wonderful and can add a personal touch.


Keep Timing in Mind

It is important to consider your meal situation as you are scheduling your day. Obviously, something like a brunch reception will involve a ceremony that is earlier in the day. However, with a celebration that is later in the day, you’ll need to keep normal eating habits in mind so that people aren’t starving at your ceremony or reception. For example, with a dessert reception, you’ll want to give guests enough time to eat dinner before the ceremony. Alternatively, if you are doing an afternoon celebration with light appetizers, you’ll want to schedule it on the earlier side so that guests can go out for dinner afterward.


Include the Meal Situation on the Invitation

The last thing your guests want is to come to your wedding with an empty stomach, only to realize they won’t be getting a full meal. Make it very clear on your invitation what guests should expect in terms of food so that they can properly eat beforehand. Whether you are doing small appetizers, desserts, brunch, or something else, guests should know what they should (or shouldn’t) eat before the celebration.


Provide Seating and Tables for Guests

If you are forgoing a traditional sit-down meal, it can be easy to forget to offer ample seating at your reception. However, guests will still need to sit down from time to time. Consider putting seating areas around the space so that guests can kick back and relax as needed. It is also a good idea to add high-top tables to the space so that guests don’t always have to carry their smaller plates and drinks.


Service is Still Important

While you may not be doing a seated meal with a waitstaff, it is a smart idea to still have some sort of service staff. They can clear plates and cups, make sure the food is restocked, and assist guests with any questions or needs. Service staff will make sure everything is running smoothly and that all surfaces are free of clutter and trash.


If you are in the process of planning your wedding, come to the next Georgia Bridal Show near you. You will have the chance to meet with professional wedding vendors of all talents from Georgia and the Southeast who can help bring your vision to life!


Georgia wedding vendors, as well as other wedding professionals across the Southeast, can contact us about opportunities for exhibition and online marketing with Georgia Bridal Show.