Planning a Killer Cocktail Hour

A cocktail hour is a great way to entertain guests while the bridal party is having photos done or to kill time before dinner is served. To ensure your cocktail hour is memorable, follow these easy steps:

Step One: Create a Signature Cocktail

Don’t just offer traditional alcoholic beverages. Add some panache by having the bar create an original cocktail specific to your wedding day. Or, take it one step further and create an entire menu of cocktail concoctions with names based on your bridal party, your hometowns, or your dating relationship.

Step Two: Offer Comfy Seating

A cocktail hour is a fun way to incorporate a different, more informal style to your wedding festivities. Not nearly as regimented as a sit-down dinner, the cocktail hour is intended to be a fun, lighthearted time for guests to mingle and celebrate. Create cozy seating nooks for small groups to gather or offer an outdoor lounge for guests to relax.

Step Three: Provide Background Music

Keep things from getting awkward while simultaneously adding ambiance with music. Create a laid-back playlist for the DJ to spin, or use the opportunity to incorporate live music with a jazz trio or acoustic band. Whatever the selection, keep the melodies low so guests can easily talk and visit.

Step Four: Sip in Style

While the reception site is undoubtedly bedecked in the finest wedding décor, don’t forget to spruce up the space for the cocktail hour as well. Not nearly as formal or involved as the reception hall, the locale of the cocktail hour should include a few unique touches, such as candles, twinkle lights, or small flower arrangements. Use the opportunity to showcase a different side of your style by decorating in a different, yet complementary, way as the rest of the wedding events.

Step Five: Provide Delicious Fare

During the cocktail hour, guests should have some tasty nibbles to nosh on while they wait for dinner. Choose a selection of bite-sized treats that are sure to satisfy guests without being overly filling.

Step Six: Create a Theme

There should be some consistent theme to the cocktail hour, a decision that can actually make your life (and wedding planning) easier. Pay homage to your heritage by dedicating the cocktail hour to your ethnic background, with foods, drinks, and décor that represent the culture, or use the opportunity to serve up relaxing comfort fare at a laidback, rustic gathering.

Step Seven: Personalize It

Adding a few personalized touches to the cocktail hour make it fun and memorable. Serve drinks with customized beverage napkins, or sip through personalized straws. The cocktail hour is also a great time to provide guests with party favors.

Step Eight: Offer Some Variety

The cocktail hour shouldn’t be limited strictly to cocktails. Be sure to offer some nonalcoholic varieties as well, such as flavored waters, sparkling cider, and soda.

Step Nine: Entertain Them

Keep guests occupied with fun activities. If the cocktail hour is outside, set up croquet or cornhole (bean bags) on the lawn. If it’s indoors, keep guests happy with a fun photo booth or table games.

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