It wasn't that the food at El Cocotal was bad, but there's soooo much amazing food at this place, it was just my least favorite restaurant.
Like I said, part of it may have had to do with them serving a group of 40 at once. Plus, the plain fact that you are limited in your menu choices is a little bit of a downer considering that you're used to ordering whatever you want every other night.
We went with El Cocotal because of:
1. the location near the martini bar, where we knew we would be watching the Eagles-Patriots game. (Damn it, they almost pulled it off!)
2. from what we could tell and heard, it would be a bit more intimate -- really wasn't but with 40 some people you can take over anywhere you want
If I had to do it all over again, I think I would have chosen Las Fuentes because:
1. we loved the food there, actually ate dinner there twice!!!
2. distance to the martini bar wouldn't have been that big of a deal
3. ambiance would have been fine. Neither offers a more "private" location than the other.
Your plan to do the cocktail party the night before and dinner after the wedding would work, as would dinner the night before and then a cocktail party after the wedding. Matter of preference...