You know that time between the ceremony and reception, where the entire wedding party and family is taking photos and have no clue what everyone else is doing? Most brides don’t put much thought into it and just assume that as long as there is a bar and some light hors d’oeuvres everything else will work itself out. While that may be true, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning one.
1. Everything costs money, so even the cocktail hour will cost some money. Don’t feel the need to over-decorate the area where the guests will be socializing for that limited amount of time. Most of them will be busy savoring the food, getting some drinks or refreshments and chatting with other guests.
2. Consider the time of year that your wedding takes place in. If you have a mid-summer or mid-winter wedding, leaving your guests outside may not be the most appropriate thing to do. If it is too hot or too cold outside, some guests will not wait around for the reception area to open and will simply barge in, even if it is not ready to accommodate them.
3. When having food or bar stations, it is usually a good idea to have more than one, or if it is just one station, make sure that there are several people there able to serve food or drinks. You wouldn’t want to spend 30 minutes in line for a drink, so why make your guests go through it.
4. Have some tables and seats available. Some people are not able to stand for the whole duration of the cocktail hour so a few seats are always a good option. Also, some high top table allow people to come around and socialize with one another over a few drinks. It creates a more relaxed atmosphere.
5. Keep your guests entertained. Make sure to have some music playing in the background so that it is not dead silent. Photo booth are always a great options because it allows your guests to be creative, have some fun, and leave with some memories. Photo booth photos are great keepsakes from a wedding. Have a photo slide show playing, showing off some baby photos or embarrassing high school yearbook photos are always good for some laughs.
6. Keep the food to a minimum and the drinks to a maximum. You do not want your guests to be full before they enjoy the main meal. Having foods that do not require utensils is always a plus and it helps keep them in small portions. When it comes to the drinks, have a variety for your guests. Not everyone drinks the same thing. If you have just beer and wine, then offer several options for each. If you have other alcohol as well, then you can limit the beer and wine to maybe just 2 types each, and more drinks and mixers added in.
7. Don’t forget the basics. Some people are picky or just not in the mood for anything fancy. Always have some basic food that will not need a Google search to decipher and some basic soft drinks, tea or water available. Even though most people will enjoy whatever you have, you do not want anyone left out of the party.
8. Keep it short. Wedding photos are a great keepsake and great memories, but if you think you will spend over an hour on your photos, you want to consider taking some of them before hand. Get some wedding party photos out of the way or save some “couple” photos for a little later. Some guests may get restless, other are on a limited time schedule, whether it be for work reasons, children, or simply time of day. Besides, you don’t want you whole family or wedding party standing around and waiting on photos when they know they are missing out on the fun of the cocktail hour.
The cocktail hour is not supposed to take much effort to plan or cause much stress. It is a good idea to make sure everything is planned properly however, so checking on these few little details should help make the whole day flow. Always remember, even though this is your day and your wedding, the people who you have invited as your guests are there for your support, so keep them in mind in your planning as well. But most of all, after all is planned, said, and done, make sure to ENJOY IT!