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Planning a cocktail-style wedding reception read these fabulous tips?

Are you planning a cocktail-style wedding reception and not really sure where to start, or what you need to hire? Charmaine, expert event planner from Ferguson Valley Events, shares her tips...

Allow enough seating for approx half of your guest list. You don't want guests sitting around like boiled potatoes all night, but then again there's nothing worse than being on your feet for eight hours, especially if they're clad in high heels! This means organising a mix of seating options.

First, we suggest some wine barrels/bar tables for people to stand around, and some bar stools for these don't go amiss either. Have some lounges or couches for the aunties to get together for a chinwag, and some beanbags, cushions and blankets for the kids. And then for your older guests, trust us when we say that they really just like to sit down in a seat with a back, at a table. Having smaller cafe style tables is much more sociable than a couple of massive 10-seater round tables.

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You can also consider having a bridal table set up so that your bridal party has somewhere to sit during speeches. You can also add a couple more tables close by to this and have seats on them reserved for close family. Often it's hard for us young uns to convince our parents and grandparents that cocktail weddings can be good! This way you can bring a little of that more traditional aspect into the evening.

Suggested list for 100 guest cocktail-style wedding:
• 5 wine barrels or bar tables, 10 bar stools
• 5 cafe-size tables (each seating 6 people), with 30 'normal' chairs (Gladiator chairs, Tiffany chairs, wooden Bentwood or cross-back chairs are good options)
• Lounge furniture to seat 10-12 guests
• Blankets and cushions for the kids
• Trestle tables and chairs for bridal table and/or family tables.

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You will also need to consider hiring linen (depending on what tables you hire). Tablecloths are not a great idea for outdoor weddings – they will get blown away, and dusty, especially in an Australian summer – so if you're planning an outdoor wedding try and steer towards tables that don't require cloths.

Lighting is another consideration. Make sure toilets are well signposted, and well lit, as well as the reception area. Less lighting is best over the dancefloor otherwise many will be overcome with shyness – people like to dance in the dark. Do you need to hire a dancefloor? And find out if the DJ requires a table and chair.

You will need separate tables for your cake, for your guestbook, for your gift table/wishing well, and for a tea/coffee station if you're having one (you may need to add hiring an urn and tea/coffee cups to the list, along with cake plates and forks depending on what your caterer/venue offers).

Consider having a table set aside for 'spare' food, with some extra napkins and condiments. Your caterer may also require a couple of tables to plate up – you'll need to check with them. Rubbish bins – have these easily accessible for napkins, skewers, prawn tails, lamb cutlet bones and the like!

The bar: a very important aspect for most weddings! If you're having a self-serve bar, you will need someone to restock during the night. Consider hiring a coolroom, or even a fridge, rather than fluffing around with ice and eskies. You may also need to hire glassware. If you're having a staffed bar, you will need a table/bar table/bar for them to stand behind and serve drinks on, and it's also a good idea to give the bar staff an extra table behind the bar to mix drinks on, to put dirty glasses on, and so on. Also ask questions of yourself like "who is going to collect dirty glasses during the night" "who is going to wash glasses" and so on.

If looking at this list your starting to think you would like someone to arrange all of this for you or need items to hire please speak to me Charmaine from Ferguson Valley Events.

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