Here’s How to Plan the Best Wedding Cocktail Hour


Your wedding ceremony is the start of it all; it’s when you finally get to say “I do” in front of all of your loved ones. Your reception is where the party starts and goes all night long. When planning these two big parts of your wedding day, the cocktail hour might seem small and insignificant, but it’s not. 

You might not spend much time at your wedding cocktail hour because you’ll be too busy taking photos, but for guests, a perfect cocktail hour is a start to an unforgettable wedding. Your wedding cocktail hour is the transition between your sacred ceremony and your packed dance floor reception, and it sets the tone for the rest of your wedding. 

Here are some expert tips for planning the perfect wedding cocktail hour to set the stage for an unforgettable wedding. 

Provide Comfy Seating

For many of your guests, wedding cocktail hour will be all about standing and walking around while mingling, but other guests will want to take a comfy seat. For the best of both worlds, don’t overcrowd your wedding cocktail hour space with chairs all over, but leave enough space for walking and standing while also incorporating some comfy seats or a lounge area. 

Get creative with comfy seats and tables by using a combination of high tops and regular height tables, lounge furniture, low chairs, barstools, floor pillows, and poofs. This way, you provide a variety of comfy seating for your older guests, those who need to give their heels a rest, or anyone who wants to relax before getting down on the dance floor. Plus, using seating like this will give your wedding cocktail hour a different feel from your reception dinner, adding some variety to your wedding. 

Creative Cocktails

Signature cocktails are a great way to add some personality to your wedding, so pick one or a few for your wedding cocktail hour. Another great thing about signature cocktails is that they can be premade, so guests can get a drink in their hand quickly without waiting in long lines. Having a mocktail option or two is also a great way to give your nondrinking guests the chance to mingle and enjoy the festivities too. 

Open Bar All-The Way

It’s not a cocktail hour without cocktails, and the best way to serve them up is with an open bar. Cash bars will, without a doubt, put a damper on your wedding cocktail hour and reception for all your guests, so avoid it. 

If you’re throwing a wedding on a budget but still want to plan a perfect cocktail hour, then avoid expensive liquor and instead serve only wine and beer. Or if you don’t want to forgo liquor altogether, you can provide wine, beer, and one signature cocktail. 

The Right Music

During cocktail hour, the right music entertainment will fill any awkward silences and entertain guests who don’t know anyone or aren’t keen on mingling. Your wedding cocktail hour falls after the ceremony, but before the party starts, so it’s important to find music to match the mood. 

For cocktail hour, great wedding music entertainment options that create a perfect mood are jazz trios, string quartets, or acoustic guitarists. This will create a laid back and relaxed vibe for your guests as they mingle before the party really kicks off. 

Flavorful Finger Foods

Keep your guests happy during your wedding cocktail hour by providing some delicious appetizers to nibble on as they mingle. For the ultimate cocktail-hour appetizer success, it’s best to have a variety of food options and keep them as easy to eat as possible. Small bites and finger foods are the way to go for a cocktail hour so that your guests still have room for your perfect wedding reception menu. This way, your guests also get to enjoy flavorful food while limiting interruptions in conversation and spills. 

It’s essential to consider all dietary restrictions and allergies so that all your guests have something to enjoy. A great way to serve the freshest and most flavorful appetizers during your wedding cocktail hour is by serving local and seasonal items. If you want to make things even easier and more seamless, you can ditch utensils and serve everything with edible spoons.

Limit the Lines

There’s no bigger buzzkill than having to spend the entire hour of cocktail hour in line waiting for a drink. After all, it’s a cocktail hour; your guests should have easy access to drinks! Creating a set up that leads to long lines is a huge wedding planning mistake, so avoid it by keeping bars and stations stocked and spread apart and hiring enough bartenders and servers. 

A great way to limit lines at the bar is to have servers handing out your signature cocktails, especially as a guest just walk into the cocktail hour space. You should also provide plenty of passed out appetizers so that your guests can enjoy the food without waiting in long lines. 

Keep Guests Entertained

Great music, food, and drinks are necessary, but when it comes to making sure all your guests have the best time, you should offer other entertainment options too. If you’re having an outdoor cocktail hour then set up lawn games like cornhole, this will keep guests of all ages entertained. For indoor wedding cocktail hours, photo booths are always a hit. 

Make it Personal

Your wedding cocktail hour is the perfect chance to add an extra personal touch to your wedding. There are so many ways to add a personal touch to the cocktail hour. With monogrammed napkins, personalized koozies or wine glasses, specially crafted beer or wine in personalized bottles, and more to choose from, you have plenty of ways to get creative. 

As you add personal touches, don’t forget about a theme! If your reception is going to have a theme, then you can use little touches at cocktail hour to give people a sneak peek. Or if you feel like adding some variety, you can mix things up and give your cocktail hour a theme of its own. 
There’s a lot that goes into a wedding cocktail hour, and music entertainment is at the top of the list. For the best music entertainment at your wedding, contact SPN events today!

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