Tips for a Successful Cocktail Hour

By: Nina Hamilton-Wilber

Cocktail Hour

The cocktail hour of your wedding may not be at the top of your planning agenda, but for many guests, those 60-plus minutes spent sipping drinks and nibbling on small bites are crucial to the success of your event. This hour sets the tone and warms guests up for your reception. It is a chance for them to visit with friends, family and new faces. Coctails


Create a nice open layout with some low seating along with high top tables. Adding unique touches to your lounge seating such as pillows with your monogram or sweet love quotes can really add to the décor. Another fun idea is to have custom coasters with trivia questions about the couple. Floral can be simple. Smaller floral arrangements will be a sweet touch. Ask your floral designer about the possibility of using the extras to fill in. Floating floral blossoms and candles can go a long way and are quite beautiful.


Wine & CheeseHave glasses of wine, champagne, beer and/or non-alcoholic refreshments ready when guest enter, whether served by tray or set out on a table.  It will help keep the congestion to a minimum at the bar. Your bartender will thank you. Don’t offer too much. Keeping it simple can help if you are on a budget. If you are serving spirits, use middle of the road brands of vodka, whiskey, gin and tequila. Creating a beautiful bar can play a big part in the décor of your wedding.


Your guests will be ready for a snack. Little bites with lots of flavor and easy to eat. Eliminating utensils will make it easier for your guests to drink and eat at the same time if they are mingling. Having passed Hors d’oeuvres as well as food stations will keep the crowding to a minimum. Personalize this hour with a signature cocktail. Something refreshing and colorful can be a wonderful touch. Choosing a cocktail that color coordinates and giving it a special name can make quite an impact.cocktail food


Don’t forget to entertain your guests!! Music and lighting can set the tone for the rest of the evening. Choose music that everyone will enjoy. Instrumental jazz is best for setting a classy, elegant mood and the absence of song lyrics is more suitable for guest conversations.  Mood lighting can add so much to your event and it is most often overlooked.



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