Last week I attended the WIN (Western Industrial Nevada) Lecture Series Dinner with guest speaker Billy Beane. I was fortunate enough to also receive tickets for the pre-event cocktail reception and it made me think what it took to organize this pre-event.
Who Is Invited?
This can very on the type of event. For the WIN dinner it was an exclusive guest list for the board members and guests of board members or if you had purchased a premier table at the event. The main reason it was so exclusive was because all those who attended the cocktail reception were allowed to take a picture with Billy Beane here is my picture below courtesy of the WIN photographer. For other types of events though this portion of the night can be open to whoever is attending the actual event.
Cocktails and Appetizers
There are a couple ways you can serve drinks and appetizers during the cocktail reception.
The waiters can carry drinks or appetizers through the crowd to make it easier for people get drinks without having to wait in a line for the bar. These waiters however carry a much smaller selection than a bar would. They will typically carry a red wine and a white wine. However, some waiters do also carry champagne as well. Other waiters can carry small appetizers for some ideas on what ideas to use for those appetizers check out my earlier post Appetizer Do’s and Don’ts.
In addition or in replace of the waiters some receptions have actual cocktail bars with bar tenders to make a wider variety of drinks than what the waiters can carry on their trays. Bars are a great option when the audience is bigger and when you are not sure if people want something more than just a small wine selection. However, bars can get tricky with upfront costs. Certain venues may have a bar list that you can choose from where it limits the types of alcohol that are served at the bar with an associated price. Another option is to have the wine be complementary but if the guests would like something else they can purchase what the please at the bar.
This is can be very easy or tricky. Some events will have the reception in the same room as the main event especially if anyone is allowed to attend. However, with events like the WIN dinner is was in a smaller room across the hall from the main event so it allowed for exclusivity to those who were invited to the cocktail reception. The only critique I had of the cocktail reception at the WIN dinner was because the room was smaller it got quick toasty once there were a lot of people in the room.
To summarize pre-event cocktail receptions can be a great enhancement to your event especially if it allows guests to interact with the key note speaker of the night. Also providing drinks during this time is a great way to get people networking with one another. Please comment on any experiences you have had at pre-event cocktail receptions.