Cocktail hour is the time for guests to get a glass of wine, beer, or a mixed drink, and it also serves as the buffer between the ceremony and reception. If the bridal party hasn’t taken photos prior to the ceremony, this is the best time to get those perfect shots. For the guests this is the time to find their seating cards, and to pick a few snacks to keep their hunger at bay until the big celebration. Since it’s the stepping-stone between the ceremony and reception, the music, food, and drinks should ideally introduce the mood your guests will see next.
Here is some of the best advice to make sure your cocktail hour go without a hitch.For those weddings that have a higher budget, adding lounges with upholstered seating creates a fun, modern living-room vignette that instantly makes people feel as if they’ve come to a great party.Make sure you have music at your cocktail hour. Music instantly lifts the mood and sets the tone for the rest of night. Generally, cocktail hour music should be more low-key than the reception.You don’t want your guests’ first impressions to be a 20-minute wait at the bar, so have drinks ready when they arrive at your cocktail hour. Having waiters welcome guests with trays of sparkling water, wine, or champagne, is a great first impression.It’s very important to have a least a few tables and chairs for older guests. An hour is a long time to stand, so incorporating a few lower tables with four chairs at each will make the older guests happy. Also, incorporate a few high-top cocktail tables for other guests to set down their drinks. In addition to setting up passed hors d’oeuvres, set up at least one food station. Stations let you create a visually attractive presentation and it gives people a place to congregate, which is key to the flow of a party.
It is recommended to have two bartenders for every one hundred guests. Depending on the floor plan, it is best to put one of the bars away from the front entrance, so that guests will fill out the room.Adjust the cocktails and food choices to go with the season. Mojitos in the summer, and hot cocoa in the winter makes the party feel more festive than a standard selection of bar drinks.Design the cocktail hour as an extension of the ceremony, so it creates a cohesive transition into the reception.Cocktail hour is the best time to incorporate some fun activities!Have pitchers or premixed drinks like a white sangria or your specialty cocktail to speed up the bar lines. I would also suggest to set up a table with glass decanters of nonalcoholic drinks such as lemonade or ice tea. Put out cards identifying the drinks so the guests can help themselves.The typical cocktail hour lasts for 60-minutes, although it doesn’t have to. Trimming the cocktail hour can cut down on costs, as guests typically consume one less drink. If the room where you had your ceremony is being transformed, the staff might need longer than an hour. If this is the case, incorporate activities to entertain your guests for that time period.Best of luck planning!