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  • East Coast Clambakes

Clambake vs. Traditional Wedding Reception: Which Is Right for You?

Updated: May 14, 2023

Planning a wedding can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are so many decisions to make, from the guest list to the dress to the venue. But one of your most significant decisions is what type of reception you want.

Should you go with a traditional sit-down dinner reception or a more relaxed clambake?

As your go-to, full-service catering partner, serving up exquisite meals for all occasions, allow us to provide you with some key factors that will assist you in choosing the perfect celebration for your special day.

5 Key Factors to Consider

We know that you don’t just want a wedding reception--you want an event that is perfectly tailored to your style, taste, and personality!

That’s why you are considering hosting something out of the ordinary, like a clambake, or maybe sticking with the classic and traditional instead. Both options offer unique advantages, depending on your style and budget.

So, which one is the right one for you? Let us help you!

#1. Location and Venue Options

Where is your venue located? Are there beaches or other natural settings nearby that would lend themselves well to a clambake? Maybe you want something more formal, like a private venue with plenty of space for a dance floor.

One of the major things to consider is where you plan on having your event. If you’re getting married outdoors, then this won’t be much of an issue since clambakes are typically held outdoors.

When planning a classic wedding reception, you can choose elegant ballrooms in upscale hotels and restaurants or tranquil gardens. Clambake parties are no exception! Yet it offers an edge--you can easily host far more people in one location!

So, if you want to enjoy a beautiful ocean view with all your closest family and friends, then a clambake is the best way to do it!

#2. Menu Options

Regarding menu options, there is no comparison between a clambake and reception; they are two totally different experiences!

A traditional reception typically includes plated entrees with multiple courses offered throughout the evening. It typically consists of all sorts of hors d'oeuvres, dinner entrees like filet mignon or salmon steak served with sides like mashed potatoes and vegetables, followed by dessert options like cake or ice cream.

And for a clambake? Trust us with this one; we can provide you with a classic reception menu, but much better!

We expertly cook this seafood feast with side dishes like salads or slaw, depending on your chosen menu. It often consists of an array of seafood such as lobster, crab legs, mussels, and clam chowder served buffet style! Just imagine your guest leaving with full smiles and full tummies, too!

Ultimately, the choice of cuisine is yours to make; whatever makes you and your guests happy!

#3. Ease of Preparation

Another factor that comes into play is the ease of preparation between these two receptions.

If you'd like to avoid the complexity (and costs) of working with a caterer for your wedding, then having a clambake as your reception meal may be just right! Even though these meals usually require less preparation than other receptions, that doesn't mean they are any less delicious!

That being said, this also means that you'll need to hire someone like our team in East Coast Clambakes who has experience in preparing these types of meals. We will make sure to serve you the best clambake reception for your big day!

#4. Cost Considerations

When it comes to weddings on a budget, both types of reception come with different cost considerations that should be considered when planning.

Traditional receptions tend to be more expensive, primarily because they require more rented items like tables, chairs, linens, and other décor items that may be needed for the event, such as lighting or sound equipment.

A clambake, on the other hand, requires far fewer rental items since it is typically held outdoors with minimal decorations needed, such as tents or canopies for shade and seating arrangements like benches or hay bales.

Also, when weighing up these two types of celebrations, it's essential not to forget the cost of food since clambakes usually need more ingredients than the traditional due to their menu focusing on seafood.

But no need to worry! We can customize a menu that fits your budget and food preferences perfectly!

#5. Cultural Considerations

If you have family members who come from different cultural backgrounds, then you may want to consider hosting your event in a way that honors those traditions.

For example, if some members of your family are from coastal areas or regions with seafood-based diets, then they might appreciate having access to fresh seafood at your event.

A clambake would also allow you to integrate these cultures into your celebration while providing guests with delicious food they can enjoy together!

Some Pros & Cons

Traditional Wedding Reception


  • With an indoor event, you can decorate your space however you like! You can use colors, themes, and lighting to enhance the atmosphere.

  • It offers more formal menu options. You can choose from a wide variety of dishes that appeal to both meat eaters and vegetarians alike.


  • It may feel less intimate and more like a formal gathering.

  • Venues like banquet halls require advance booking—so if you decide late in the game that you want to switch from clambake to traditional reception, this could present some logistical issues.

  • It can be pretty costly if you don’t watch your budget closely – especially when it comes to flowers, decorations, food & beverages, etc.

Clambake Reception


  • Not only does this type of party lend itself beautifully to coastal locations (think beachside views!), but it’s also usually much cheaper!

  • Who doesn't love delicious seafood dishes and traditional New England clambake? This tends to create more of an intimate atmosphere than traditional ones–perfect for small weddings or larger events!

  • Clambake catering offers a casual atmosphere that your guests will love without compromising taste or quality.

  • Since most clambakes require fewer servers than traditional receptions, you'll save money on staffing costs. Not to mention, the smell of the fresh seafood cooking will make everyone’s mouths water!


  • If you plan it outdoors, Mother Nature may throw a curveball and cause expensive repairs due to weather-related damage. Not only does this affect extra outdoor activities, but also traditional receptions!

Wrapping It Up

The decision between whether or not to have a traditional wedding reception or opt for something more unique and memorable such as a clambake should come down to what fits best with your budget and personal preferences. So take some time to think about these factors before committing one way or another so that your special day goes off without any hiccups!

Ultimately though, both styles will provide unforgettable memories that last forever, so don't get too caught up in choosing one over another - just go with what speaks most deeply from your heart!

No matter what type of celebration you choose, it'll surely turn out fantastic, provided that you surround yourself with family & friends who support & love you unconditionally!

And if you're planning an unforgettable wedding and want to treat your guests to a clambake, East East Coast Clambakes is a perfect choice! Our succulent clams, lobster, crab, and corn-on-the-cob will have your guests singing praises for days. With our delectable selection of traditional New England clambakes, there's no doubt that this special day will be cherished forever.

Not only do we offer catered clambakes, but BBQs as well. We'll cook at the location of your choice!

With over twenty years of experience in the culinary business, our team is here to serve delicious feasts for all occasions - from elegant dinner parties to casual get-togethers. With us at your service, you can be sure that every meal will be exceptional!

Contact us today to start planning your clambake wedding reception!



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