Planning your big day is a lot to take on and the cocktail hour probably isn’t your biggest concern. We get that. But, hear us out… The cocktail hour is important. It’s the intermission between the ceremony and the reception. It’s when your best man or maid of honor will get all socially lubricated before they get to make an equally emotional and embarrassing toast, and when you’ll get to change into more comfortable clothes. Woot! So, here are a few tips for making your cocktail hour extra special.
Wedding Cocktail Hour Ideas
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The hour or so following the wedding ceremony is often used to take all the photos with the wedding party and family members. During this time, the guests are usually left waiting around or getting to the reception early with nothing to do. This is why it is a good idea to host a cocktail hour during this time. A wedding cocktail hour is a casual event, that gives your guests a chance to mix and mingle while waiting for your reception to get underway. While this particular event is not a necessity, should you decide to add it to your festivities, here are a few guidelines to get you started in the planning process.
Simple but Sweet
Since the cocktail hour is just a transitional time meant to occupy time before the big reception, it should be very simple. You do not need to do elaborate decorations. Dress a handful of tall cocktail tables and a few short tables and chairs with linens that match the wedding colors and then accent those tables with some simple floral arrangements or candles. The location of your cocktail hour can be in a small reception hall, banquet room or even a private room of a restaurant. To save some money, you can opt to host the cocktail party in the same location as the reception. You may want to adjust the lighting and music though to set this event apart from the bigger event to follow. If your wedding was outdoors, perhaps set up a tent close by and have the cocktail hour on the wedding site, before everyone moves on to the location of the reception.
The real dance party will take place at the reception, so the music at your cocktail hour should be a little more mellow. Classical music is a great option for providing an easy-listening, laid back atmosphere. Your event space size can help determine what size of ensemble would be good, you can go with a string quartet, trio, duo or just hire a solo guitarist or harpist to play soft music in the background. You could also hire a strolling violinist to move about the guests as they enjoy their cocktails. For a little more upbeat option, yet still simple and elegant, book a jazz band or saxophonist for the hour. This will get everyone "jazzed" up for the big party to follow. Of course you can also think outside the box by hiring a magician or juggler to stroll through the crowd and entertain the guests while they wait for the big party to begin.
Keep Those Flute Glasses Full!
Now for the most important part of the cocktail hour...the cocktails! The drinks should be plentiful, so keep the bar stocked. An hour long cocktail event will probably give everyone a chance to have at least two drinks, so plan for that. Champagne and wine are a must, but you may also want to offer a nice beer (not served in a can or bottle of course, class it up and put it in a tall glass) and simple cocktails. Have the bartenders concoct some cocktails and martinis that match the colors of the weddings. Have a couple waiters walk around to serve some of the drinks and then also set up one or two bar locations on opposite sides of the room for guests to walk up to and place orders. To make things more interesting, hire a flair bartender! Your guests can be entertained by juggling, flipping and magic tricks while also enjoying their professionally mixed drinks!
You don’t want those drinks to get people too crazy too early, so you should also serve some hors d’oeuvres. Keep them simple and not items that will fill everyone up before the dinner or buffet that will be served later. Choose items that will compliment the food that will follow. Hire a caterer to help you plan the menu for either or both the events. And everyone always says not to spoil your meal by eating dessert first, but in this case it should be okay. So maybe offer some sweets such as small cakes and chocolates. Or set up a table with a chocolate fountain with pretzels, cake and strawberries and let the guests create their own plate of delicious treats.
It’s only one hour, so it should seem like an easy event to plan. However, on top of everything else that has gone into this big event, planning the cocktail hour can feel a bit overwhelming. If you had a wedding planner help with the wedding and reception, then they can probably help with the cocktail hour as well. If not, then hopefully these tips will help you take care of everything yourself. You can find everything you need on GigSalad, your one stop shop for planning a great wedding cocktail hour.