Are you planning a cocktail wedding with formalities? There are a few tips to keep your wedding aligned with the less formal and casual approach that is a cocktail wedding.

In most cases cocktail weddings have the ceremony and reception in the same location, this is in keeping with the notion that a cocktail wedding is less formal. Most couples prefer their guests to have less time downtime between the ceremony and reception as well as not having to travel to different locations.

Images: Ridhwaan Moolla

When the ceremony and reception are in the same location generally the ceremony is later in the day so the celebrations can flow continuously.

The trick to including formalities but keeping the casual vibe is to keep the schedule tight and to always think about your guest experience. Remember your guests are standing for a long time so make sure there are plenty of different seating opportunities so guests can sit and stand freely as well as lots of food in constant circulation and of course an epic feature bar!

Our recommendation is to put all the formalities at the front end of the reception, so they are done and dusted quickly, and you can your guests can mingle more and get to the dance floor.

Images: Aimee Jones

Here’s a run-sheet of a typical cocktail wedding, showing you can still have formalities!

4.30 pm – Ceremony

5.00 pm – End of Ceremony, celebrant announces order of service to the guests as part of the housekeeping. (You can also have an order of service sign at the reception, so guests know what is happening & when)

5.00 pm – Couple to walk towards the reception area for congratulations.

5.00pm – Bar open

5.30 pm – Canapé service to commence

5.30pm to 6.00pm – Family Photos

*Depending on when the sunset hour is will determine when the Bridal Party leaves the reception for photos.

6.00 to 7.15pm – Bridal Party Photos / Couple Photos.

*An important note – when your ceremony and reception are in the same space leaving for two hours for photographs is a long time! And your guests notice, they are there for you and they can get bored quickly, so keep your time away for photos as short as possible.

7.15 pm – MC to ask all guests to fill glasses and be ready for the bridal party return. (Bridal Party to eat some food before entering reception).

7.30 pm – Bridal party returns to the reception (food service to stop).

7.35 pm – MC to announce speeches

*The biggest tip is to keep speeches short! 3-5 mins per person when at a cocktail wedding.

7.35pm to 7.40pm – 1st Speech (Parents)

7.40pm to 7.45pm – 2nd Speech (Parents)

7.45pm to 7.50pm – 3rd Speech (Best Man)

7.50 pm to 7.55 pm – 4th Speech (Maid of Honour)

7.55pm to 8.00pm – Couple’s Speech

8.00pm to 8.05pm – Cake Cutting

8.05pm to 8.10pm – First Dance

8.10 pm onwards – Continual food service, mingling, dancing!

Images: Aimee Jones

Our last note… Your attire can still be formal, even at a cocktail wedding!

Ms Floral Says: These tips are a must-read for anyone planning a cocktail wedding but still want some structure to their proceedings! Thank you for sharing, DUO!

About DUO events Creative Studio: DUO is a full service planning, design, floral and production studio; they create and execute one-off event designs. Their events are more than a gathering they are an exceptional experience. Every detail is bespoke and every element considered suiting your vision. DUO are distinctive, flexible, considerate and meticulous and these principles drive the quality of their work.

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The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

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There’s a sense of certainty in the air, and these two radiate serenity. Sure of starting their new chapter and wrapped in the arms of each other — Emma and James celebrated their big day before the eyes of their friends and family, and in front of the most beautiful backdrop at Seclusions in the Blue Mountains.

As the two walk down the aisle, hand in hand and into their future, there’s an effortless elegance that surrounds them. Cool, calm, collected and cheerful. From the first date to the first dance as husband and wife, these two have come a long way but one thing is for certain — the best is yet to come.

Lovereel’s videography team was there to capture the hugs and kisses, the smiles and solemn wishes. Creating a memory on film to rewind forever.

Ms Floral Says: What a gorgeous day and stunning part of the world to get married in. Lovereel, you have captured this love story oh-so perfectly.

About Lovereel: With various wedding film options to choose from and all the raw footage at your fingertips, Lovereel offer an affordable yet highly professional wedding videography experience.

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The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!


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Image: Shevan J Photography / Designer: d’Italia

Dear bride-to-be,

Whether you’re on the hunt for a ready-made gown or you’re considering the custom-made process, it’s always important to go in with an open mind. Have you ever had one idea in your mind that you just couldn’t let go and when you struggled to find that exact concept or design, you began to feel extremely disheartened and deflated? If this is you, you’re definitely not alone. Finding a gown can come with pressure and expectation and as a designer who works alongside those seeking their dream outfit every day, I see this first hand.

Before you begin your shopping it’s always important to remain open and broad with your design ideas. Don’t jump to conclusions too early on as this will only restrict your options further when you begin trying on some gowns or searching for the perfect lace for your custom wedding dress. This may mean, withholding some of your ideas from your family and friends for the time being. As difficult as this may seem, it’s very common for people to feel pressured and influenced by their nearest and dearest. With lots of different opinions, comes lots of confusion. Remember to stay true to yourself, your wedding theme, your personality and what makes you happy.

Image: Shevan J Photography / Designer: d’Italia

Trying on a variety of gowns to see which one you feel most comfortable in and which one reflects you and your ‘vibe’ is the best way to narrow down your ideas. Being open-minded throughout this process may be more beneficial than you think. In fact, it’s very common for brides to try on a dress or explore a unique lace that they never thought would suit them, only discover how very perfect it is for them. Being open-minded can lead you to so many unique and different avenues, that can help you to finding your dream gown and fabric.

For those who decide to opt for the custom-made route, we completely understand how daunting and overwhelming this can be. After all, it’s very likely that you may not have ever had a piece as extravagant as a wedding gown, custom created before. The custom process will often begin with a trial run in which your dressmaker will create your mock-up design usually from a calico (cotton-like) fabric. For brides who struggle to visualise or have never been through this process before, it’s very common to feel a tad overwhelmed during this stage. Our best advice is to trust in your dressmaker and her/his abilities to be able to bring your vision to life. Custom creating a bespoke gown takes a lot of time and is achieved through a step by step process. Don’t be disheartened if your gown doesn’t look exactly like your design initially. If you continue to persevere alongside your dressmaker you’ll begin to see your beautiful design evolve into an incredibly gorgeous masterpiece.

Image: Shevan J Photography / Designer: d’Italia

Along with this, it’s completely normal to want to change certain elements and features on your gown. Don’t be too hard on yourself if something doesn’t quite look like what you expected. It’s very common for brides to go through the custom process and discover that certain elements that they initially thought would look amazing, don’t quite suit you or your vision. Being open-minded throughout the creation stage can come in handy for sure. It will allow you to be creative, change and modify certain elements and tweak it into the very unique gown that you get to call yours. Most importantly, having a gown custom created for you is super exciting so don’t forget to have fun with it. Trust in your dressmaker, remain open-minded and we are confident you will have the best and most memorable experience. But most of all, If you do all of that, you’ll get to walk away with your dream custom gown.

Ms Floral Says: Great advice as always! It’s always good to keep an open mind throughout the entire process of planning a wedding too!

About d’Italia: Bridal couture and custom made wedding dresses are a specialty of d’Italia. Whether you are looking for a vintage wedding dress stores in Melbourne, a lace wedding dress or any style at all – you are assured the exact bridal style you want, with custom-built corsetry to fit you perfectly, at a fraction of the cost of bridal-boutique gowns.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!