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  • Writer's pictureKeilah Stallsmith

Ideas for Dinner Party Weddings


An outdoor dinner party wedding set up

When you think of a dinner party, what comes to mind?


I think of bonding with an intimate group over good food, drinks, and conversation. It feels more elevated than your typical meal, with perhaps some music, flowers, and nice dishes to set the ambiance. A dinner party wedding brings the style, tone, and intentions of a dinner party- and combines them with the joyful, connected, and heartfelt celebration that is a wedding.


If you think a dinner party wedding is for you, this blog will walk you through some fun ideas for creating something fun, something chic, and something uniquely you.


First… what is a dinner party wedding?


Most weddings actually involve a dinner party of some sort, with a full meal involving multiple courses.


For the dinner party wedding, you want to center the meal as your main reception festivity. You might skip most wedding “staples”, creating a more focused experience. The dancing, speeches, photo booth, and sparkler exit is omitted in favor of a longer meal time, higher quality food and beverage, and elevating your ambiance with music and decor.


Of course, a dinner party wedding is what you want it to be! Your guests might spend most of their time in their seats with a cocktail in hand and another delicious course on its way. There might be an incredible view, a live violinist, or a mixologist to explain cocktail pairings between courses. You might describe the environment as elevated, romantic, intimate, and/or chic. It can also be low-key, fun, and/or adventurous. It all depends on you, your people, and what you love about dinner parties.



Locations


A guest giving a speech at a restaurant reception
photo: Katie B Photography

The location for your wedding will set the entire tone for the day, from the size of your guest list, to your budget, to your ambiance. It will determine the formality of the day, the service style, and your timeline. It’s a big decision!


One of my favorite locations for dinner party weddings are actually restaurants. Specifically, restaurants with private rooms. Not only is the food phenomenal and freshly prepared on-site, but the ambiance/service options are robust while the cost is often much lower than a traditional venue. Restaurants come equipped with so many of the things you will need like parking, restrooms, plates, and garbage disposal. Restaurants are great options for couples who want to do less planning with more services. Alternatively, hotels often offer the same services on-site, and you can host out of town guests for more convenience.


Dinner party weddings can also take place on rooftops, in greenhouses, or on private decks. If you go with a location like this, you’ll get to customize everything about your celebration in a more private setting. You’ll get a lot more flexibility with the types of locations you can consider, as well as private chefs. A private venue vs a restaurant also gives you the opportunity to have your ceremony at the same place. Unique locations and venues are great options for couples who want to bring more personalization to their celebration.


Think about the way you want your wedding to feel. Take some time to hone in on your ideal aesthetic, time of day, feel, and priorities. Hone in on what makes a dinner party wedding feel special to you, and the types of locations you want to explore will become clear.



Food & Drink



A colorful fall table scape
photo: Cindy Yeh Photography


When thinking of a dinner party wedding, the food is the focus. Remember: a menu tells a story. You want to immerse your guests in the experience of great food in an elevated environment. Starting with an excellent caterer or chef is the first step! Create a menu that takes your guests on a cohesive journey, including apps, drinks, and dessert.


One fun ways to elevate the experience food is with a personalized table scape. Artful dishes, fresh flowers, and menu cards can personalize the environment and help it feel like you. A florist and candlelight will also compliment any design. You can set the tone for whatever your celebration entails, from an authentic South African cuisine experience, to an artful fine dining experience in a historic building.


Service also plays a big difference in the experience of food. At my favorite dinner experiences, the chef makes an appearance between courses to offer insight to the concept/preparation/presentation of the dish. A mixologist might do the same for drink pairings. You can stretch out your dinner to a 3-4 hour, European-style lingering meal.


Cake or dessert shouldn’t be left out of the mix. Depending on where you are, a pretty cake in the corner of the room can serve as a fun way to build anticipation for dessert.


Favors should also, of course, be food-centered, reminding your guests of the special meal they shared.


Fun & Entertainment



A happy bride and groom serve their guest wine
photo: Chelsea Dawn Weddings


Since the food is the main feature at a dinner party wedding, you want to keep the entertainment aspect light. Still, just a few of the right elements can make for an unforgettable celebration. Remember to emphasize the food, guest connection, and an immersive environment.


To start, nothing elevates a gathering like live music. A mellow sound works particularly well for dinner party weddings. A soloist or duo, like an acoustic guitarist or singer, for example, creates an immersive background sound tying everything together.


Highlighting the connection between guests is another fun idea. Conversation decks can go at the center of each table, or perhaps personalized trivia cards at each place setting, breaking the ice and helping guests settle in.


If your dinner party is taking place in a unique place, a tour, demonstration, or free time to explore might also be a great thing to include. You can also encourage guests to linger in place with some lounge furniture and a timeline that extends past dessert.


As for traditional wedding staples, speeches, champagne toast, and cutting the cake all fit the vibe. You can even do a cocktail hour if you need some time between the ceremony and meal.


A dinner party wedding works best with the most service and choreography around the meal, with plenty of breathing room everywhere else. What you add should deepen the experience of sharing a table with loved ones.



Conclusion



Newlyweds kiss beneath string lights at a dinner table
photo: Cindy Yeh Photography


A dinner party wedding is a really cool way for couples to celebrate their way. With an emphasis on food, connection, and elevated moments, your guest will be treated to a unique and heartfelt experience. It allows you to create a focused occasion with the details that matter most.


Want to dive a little deeper? A wedding planner is great for dinner party weddings! We can help you scout out locations, create a menu, coordinate with vendors, and create something special without the stress. For full service wedding planning and design, check out our services. Dinner parties are some of our favorites.


If you feel good about planning your dinner party wedding, but want some tips and tricks to point you in the right direction, check out Simple Socials. You’ll get personalized recommendations for all of our favorite locations, caterers, photographers, and even timeline ideas and best practices to support your journey.


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