An unforgettable wedding has a great energy that builds from the romance of the ceremony to the heart pumping last song of the night. Creating just the right energy really depends on a great cocktail hour. Keep reading for my top 5 tips to create a memorable cocktail hour your guests will never want to end.
Don’t be afraid to move your guests for cocktail hour. Most venues will offer you the space closest to your dinner area for cocktails. Sometimes this is great. Sometimes this is a hallway or cramped room. Ask to see all available spaces. Look for spaces that are open, have a built-in bar, a view or are OUTSIDE. Even if your guests need to take an elevator or walk a short distance it could totally be worth it. Get creative.
If you’re faced with the tough decision of using an awesome space for the ceremony over cocktail hour I often suggest cocktail hour.
The flow of your day is the cheapest way to create a WOW factor. Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Two of my favorite cocktail hour scenarios are:
Serving cocktails before the ceremony. Here’s how it works:
As guests arrive, treat them to a pre-ceremony mini cocktail hour. I’m not talking about a passed welcome drink. Offer a full open bar and heavily passed hors d’oeuvres for 30 minutes.
Then, following the ceremony host a second 45 minute cocktail hour.
In reality you’re only adding 15 minutes to your cocktail hour but this will change the whole vibe of the day.
Who’s it right for? I love this flow for couples planning a super short ceremony or COVID couples who have already been married and are now planning your big celebration. Trust me, people will CELEBRATE!
Extending cocktails to 90 minutes.
Too often, you move your guests, everyone gets their drink, dives into a great conversation and then they’re being asked to move again. 90 minutes gives guests time to settle in and enjoy themselves.
Who’s it right for? I love this flow for couples who did NOT do a first look and will be taking the bulk of their formal photos during cocktails or couples who are moving guests a bit of a distance between ceremony and dinner.
As you imagine the flow of cocktail hour make note of sunset. The magic of golden hour is real, talk to your photographer and capitalize on it!
The flow of your day is everything. I’d love to chat all about yours on your complimentary 30-minute consultation.
Cocktail hour is a chance to have FUN with food. I love a combination of passed hors d’oeuvres and food stations. If your budget doesn’t allow for both fear not, pick one and know it out of the park. Simple foods when presented beautifully make a huge impact. Offer pizza, an amazing mezze table or even breads and olive oils. Embrace the moto, keep it simple and dress it up.
Give your cocktail hour personality. What makes you laugh? What are some of your inside jokes? The signage and details are where you can make your day feel like YOU. Any passing tray, bar or restroom is the perfect place to have fun with your signage. Some of our recent favorites.
Music can often get lost during cocktail hour. Unless you have the budget for at least a 4-5 piece band I tend to opt for a great playlist as background music and put the dollars into some type of live entertainment: a caricaturist, a roaming magician, a palm reader, a live poem writer.
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple game. After all, we’re all just kids at heart. We’ve used everything from life-sized Jenga to croquette to a few Trivial Pursuit cards sprinkled on high-top tables. They break the ice and get people laughing.
Bonus, add some fun signage and you can call almost any interactive element your guest favor.
There can be a lot of details that go into the day and sometimes you just want a little help. And gorgeous, you deserve it. Setup a FREE 30-minute consultation with me and let’s get your cocktail hour squared away.
Take the FREE and start planning a wedding that feels uniquely you.
The truth is I hated planning my own wedding. I felt like I was going it alone and was surprised by how hard it was to find partners who embraced my vision. Thankfully, the guy was worth it and that experience is what led me to become a wedding planner. After a decade of planning luxury weddings I am bringing my process to you.