A restaurant reception…the no-stress, small guest way to celebrate your wedding day

Not every bride wants a big reception after their wedding. The thing is….brides aren’t told today that it is totally okay to feel this way. It’s your wedding. You can do what you want. Long gone are the traditional wedding ideals. Today’s wedding culture allows you to pull off almost anything. Weddings are exhausting enough to have to deal with greeting guests, having a receiving line, and not actually eating any of the freaking food you just paid for. For my own wedding we are actually having a few local food trucks cater it  (shout out to The Humble Pig http://www.thehumblepig.com/index.html and Pho nomenal Dumpling truck   http://www.phonomenaldumplings.com/  ). However, if I had decided to have a restaurant wedding then I know a few digs in the Raleigh area that we could have definitely used. Keep in mind that when I say small I am talking like 40 people or less. Anything larger and things just get kinda crazy for the wait staff. You want to keep things as stress free as possible, for your sake and the venue’s. Why choose a restaurant reception over a traditional one? Here’s a few good reasons :

  • Small wedding. Restaurant receptions are perfect for the couple having a small gathering who want to enjoy their day. No stressing about catering details or who is going to sit at what table. No set up or take down, no cleaning up, no deciding what will happen to the table toppers your aunt spent months making. You show up, you eat, and you leave. That’s it. No hauling tons of wedding stuff back home with you that you will never use again. Who needs 45 white wedding lanterns anyhow???? (btw for you brides reading this that have purchased said 45 white lanterns…..recycle them by painting them black and lining your sidewalk or driveway with them for Halloween)


  • They are cheaper. Some reception venues charge you for just the space while expecting you to handle all of the catering and decor. This can become very expensive, very quickly. Every little thing adds up. The florals for the tables, the type of linens needed, the croutons on every salad. Save yourself a lot of money and a lot of trouble by having the restaurant handle these things for you. Most will already have linens available and some even have fresh flowers or candles already placed that you can utilize. Your guests will also appreciate the different options that are available to them on the menu. I am gluten free and vegetarian. Do you think it’s easy for me to eat at weddings? Nope. People with different food allergies have a really hard time eating anywhere. I’m sure dear Uncle Sal will appreciate the fact that there is something on the menu other than chicken or fish if he has been vegetarian for the past 30 years. They say variety is the spice of life! Also true at wedding receptions.


  • Unique concept. If you have out of town guests then a little local fare might be right up your alley. I always tell DF to put some south in his mouth! He’s from up north but has grown to love the southern food culture we have here in NC. We have some amazing places to eat here in the Triangle and most of them use only local ingredients (support your local businesses people!). You know how when you travel to a new place you like to get a taste of the locale? It should be no different with weddings. Find a place that you both love as a couple and book your reception there. A small locally owned restaurant will almost never say no to new customers!


You’ve decided that this sounds like exactly what you want to do. Now where can you book such an event? Think locally of course! I’ll tell you now that I am not a fan of chain restaurants so everyone that made the list is locally owned. These are places that I frequent quite often who will be more than happy to help you with a small dinner party for your wedding guests. All of these places have excellent food and even more amazing customer service. These are my tops picks in order………

  •  Levant Bistro, Raleigh NC. Starting off at #1 on the list is Levant BistroI know I have mentioned them before in a previous blog post but let me tell you…..if you want the best mediterranean food that you have ever eaten in your life then this place is for you.levant I nearly cried the first time we ate there because it was simply that good. And being a foodie, it is super hard to impress me. Not only is their food organic, but the entire restaurant is gluten free. That’s right….everything on the menu. As I was told by one waitress….”If it isn’t gluten free then it doesn’t walk through that door”.  For those sceptics who think that gluten free food is tasteless and bland, just eat here one time and it will completely change your mind. The menu, as well as the wine list, is exquisite.  The atmosphere is modern and clean but very cozy and inviting. Anita and her staff do an excellent job of providing not only top notch service but also amazing eats. They can accommodate private dinner parties up to 40 and close the restaurant to the public for private events. I cannot stress enough how much of an amazing experience this little bistro is. Total game changer and probably the best kept culinary secret in Raleigh. Check out their menu and site here…….http://freshlevant.com/.


  •  The Pit, Raleigh NC. The #2 place on the list is The Pit. Almost everyone in the entire south has heard of The Pit and their epic barbecue. Their menu is surprisingly southern and extremely diverse. Even as a gluten free vegetarian I can ThePit-frontstill eat here with my fiance. They have a large selection of side dishes that are super yummy (the mashed potatoes are simply to die for) and several meat options to chose from if pork just isn’t your thing. They provide a full service bar and have two space options that can contain your guests…the front room that seats about 50 and the larger side room that can accommodate closer to 70. There is a food and drink minimum that has to be met in order to utilize either space but it is set at a reasonable amount that should easily be obtainable.  Check out their eats and site here……http://www.thepit-raleigh.com/


  • Second Empire, Raleigh NC. Choice #3 for an elegant dinner party would definitely be Second Empire. This restaurant is one of the finest culinary dining experiences in the Triangle. Everything from the food, the service, the location, and the staff is top notch and second to none. Second Empire RestaurantThe restaurant itself is located in a renovated historic home, the Dodd-Hinsdale house, in downtown Raleigh close to the Capital. There are several spaces within Second Empire that can be used for a small reception…the Atrium, the Pine room, 2 Main dining rooms- West and East, or the Tavern which house both the Capitol room and the Raleigh room. The staff will set any bride’s mind at ease with their extraordinary customer service and planning knowledge. If a classic dinner is the reception you crave, Second Empire is the obvious choice. Find more information on their site and make sure to click the weddings tab……http://www.second-empire.com/


  • Mia Francesca Trattoria, Raleigh, NC. My #4 pick for a small reception is the Italian stylings of Mia Francesca. Located in the heart of North Hills, this elegant gem has an amazing atmosphere as well as to die for Italian food. Put it this way….my fiance said the chicken parm is as good as you can get it in Little Italy. Mia_F_2Being Italian, he knows the food of his people and gives this restaurant very high marks for authenticity. They were also able to accommodate my food allergies and specially prepared a dish just for me that was excellent. They carry a large wine selection as well as a full service bar. The best part of this venue is the special events space upstairs. While being private and secluded it still overlooks the entire restaurant so that you and your guests don’t feel secluded. Lots of wood floors and elegant decor make this an impressive choice for your guests. Their full menu promises to have something for everybody that attends. View more information here……. http://miafrancescaraleigh.com/


  • Cantina 18, Raleigh NC. My #5 and final pick (for now) is Cantina 18, located in the heart of Cameron Village in downtown Raleigh. Owned by the 18 restaurant group,cantina 18 this wonderful little gem offers up some of the tastiest Mexican fusion dishes this side of the border. This spot offer two different space options, a private event space upstairs that seats 30 and the downstairs portion of the restaurant that accommodates 150. There is a full service bar on both levels and I highly recommend anything off of their drink menu (can we say Sangria???). Jason the owner works very  hard to ensure only the freshest, local ingredients are used in their dishes. Check out their full menu and pics of the event spaces here….. http://www.18restaurantgroup.com/cantina-18-raleigh/


If you are looking for a little less stress on your wedding day then I ask you to consider these local vendors for your small reception. What can be better than enjoying great food and great company and then going home with no clean up???

If you have any local restaurants that fit the bill for small wedding receptions, please let me know so that I can give them the appropriate shout out! Buy and shop local 🙂

Cheers!  Gigi




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