The cocktail hour is a key element to any wedding celebration. It’s a chance for guests to socialize, have a few drinks, snack on your hand picked hors d’oeuvres and prepare for the night’s festivities. For the newlyweds, the cocktail hour gives the bride and groom an opportunity to take photos with their wedding party or extended family, and spend some one-on-one time together after the ceremony. This crucial hour also gives your wedding professionals time behind the scenes to perfect all details for the reception. There are so many important elements that need to be squeezed into this hour, so our team is here to help with the little pointers that make a cocktail hour one to remember.
Seating. Having a lounge area is a great idea if you want to spoil your guests with comfort. Large comfortable sofas will provide your guests with the optimal seating area, but regular cocktail tables with chairs definitely will serve their needs as well. It’s also a good idea to have a few high tables scattered around for guests to linger at as they enjoy their cocktails and conversation. Seating during cocktail hour is especially important for older guests, who may be unable to stand and mingle for the entire hour.
Music. Cocktail hour music will set the mood and bring your guests into the right mindset for the rest of the evening. If you have a band, request that they play upbeat and hip music or maybe something acoustic, at a lower level so people can still hear each other and chat. If the band doesn’t arrive until later in the night, check if the venue is able to play some subdued tunes through the house speaker system. Be sure not to play anything too intense or loud, because that should be saved for after dinner to get everyone ready to party!
Hors D’Oeuvres. Having servers tray pass hors d’ouvres during cocktail hour will allow your guests to nibble on a few small bites before dinner. Another idea is to have a “serve yourself” type of cocktail hour, with appetizer stations, such as a cheese and cracker spread, or hummus and crudité station. This way guests can help themselves to any portion they want before dinner, or try multiple smaller options. When working with the caterer or venue banquet team, be sure to sample your hors d’oeuvres exactly as your guests will eat them on your wedding night, as you want to ensure each piece is small enough, and easy enough to eat while carrying on a conversation.
Specialty Cocktails. It’s no surprise that the drinks are definitely the highlight of cocktail hour! Tray-passed champagne definitely sets a festive tone, while tray passed red and white wine helps alleviate the line at the bar. You might also consider implementing a specialty cocktail, based on the location of your wedding and the season! For example, delicious ice cold cocktails with muddled fruit are perfect for spring and summer weddings, while rich and heavier options are more fitting for fall and winter weddings. Don’t forget special garnishes as well as fun straws and cocktail napkins to make your drinks really stand out. It’s also a great idea to include a specialty nonalcoholic drink for those who don’t drink or are under 21!
Décor. Implementing your wedding design into your cocktail hour décor is very important to ensure your whole day is cohesive. Small centerpieces with floral and candles, similar to the bridal bouquet and ceremony flowers, will tie the floral design of the ceremony and reception all together. If your budget allows, consider renting a specialty linen in the color scheme of the wedding. Remember that your decor during cocktail hour is serving as a sneak peak for the beautiful reception, so all-in-all, keep it simple and cohesive so your wedding reception can really shine!
As you can see, there are countless details that go into perfecting a cocktail hour. But all in all, a cocktail hour is nothing without the love of friends and family gathering to celebrate this new chapter in your life! Cheers!
Photography Credit: Amy & Jordan Photography