Being a wedding planner in 2016 has shown me one thing over and over again.. it’s your wedding and you can do WHATEVER you want. Skip the white dress! Have pie instead of cake, and who cares if you use an iPod instead of a DJ? It’s your day! One of the hottest trends that I’ve seen especially, is the transition from having a formal seated dinner reception to an appetizer heavy, casual cocktail reception instead. There are a few different reasons I’ve found for this trend – read on to see if it’s something that might be a good fit for your big day!

One of the main reasons I find people like to go the casual route is because they do not want to be on display for any more time than is absolutely necessary at their wedding. Yes, there is probably a ceremony that you need to stand in front of people for (you can even keep that private if you want). After that though, without a seated dinner, you’re pretty much in the clear! You can still throw an amazing party with plenty of food, drink and dancing but spend your time working the crowd at your leisure and not having to worry about having all eyes on your as you put food in your face. You eat those potatoes girl!

Another reason I see people opt for longer cocktail receptions is not out of choice, but out of necessity either due to venue restrictions, guest list size, or both. Since another major trend happening these days is non-traditional venues, there are many couples out there who need to make sacrifices to have their entire guest list fit in their location of choice. I am working with a couple this summer who’s venue is a beautiful art museum that can only seat 75 people at once for dinner but their guest list is 200. Instead of cutting the guest list or giving up their location, they are adding more cocktail tables and casual seating, and still able to invite everyone they want comfortably. Many venues will typically even offer a cheaper price if you’re not doing a full dinner setup, so if you think you might be interested it’s definitely worth asking!

The only downfall I tend to see with casual receptions is that it is much harder to gain your guests full attention for things such as speeches by VIPs or anything else that you actually DO want them to see. When everyone is seated for dinner they’re quieter and typically all faced one direction expecting to need to pay attention to a few things. When they’re spaced all around just chatting and not sure when things are happening, you need to try a little harder to get a message across. Still doable, just harder.

So which one is right? That’s for you to decide! Sound off in the comments with why you made your decision, or if what you’ve liked or haven’t liked about different styles. Remember, it’s 2016 and you can do ANYTHING you want at your wedding .. just make sure to enjoy it!