The vows have been made, and the rings exchanged. Now it’s time for you to party! Cocktail hour is the time to transform your wedding from a solemn affair into a grand celebration. You’ll want to plan it properly.

What Is Cocktail Hour?

Cocktail hour is the interval that runs between ceremonies and dinner. It’s time to begin the reception part during the ceremony.

What to Serve During Cocktail Hour

The food and drinks offered at your reception dinner must appeal to the masses and guests. The choices during cocktail hour are more creative and tailored to your personal preferences. “This is a time where you can be more globally inspired and think outside the box, even if your guests are more meat-and-potato types,”. She advises couples to think about what they like and where they’re from, the foods they love most or dishes that hold special meaning in their culture or family and the most memorable dishes from trips abroad and then create a menu based on these ideas.

At a minimum, five varieties of passed appetizers and two bites per guest. There’s likely to be more, and that’s fine. The leftovers can be added to your meal at the vendor or stacked and brought directly to the hotel for a great late-night snack. The food stations (only 1 or 2 are required) are best used as an addition to the food items but not to replace them. It’s not necessary to refill them as time passes. Imagine them as one-hour-only deals: when the goods are gone, they’re gone.

Stationery displays (also called food bars, food stations or tables to eat at) are a different alternative for cocktails. The displays allow guests to personalize their food or to fill small plates with the variety of food they’d like. Most popular are raw bars, cheese, and charcuterie platters, but Theodorou has also developed crostini dumplings and tacos, sushi pizza and pasta.

If it’s about drinks, you’ll need multiple options for guests to get a drink as they arrive at the bar area for cocktail hour. Alongside bartenders (plan for one bartender for 35-45 people), waiters could serve wine glasses that have been poured, guide guests to a beer cooler, or give out drinks and juice. If you’re planning on serving an exclusive cocktail, remember that the cocktail hour is the moment to pour it. “It’s a nice way to add an element of personalization, but after one or two, people are going to revert to their drink of choice,” 

Tips for Hosting a Cocktail Hour

Go, Al Fresco, if You Can

If your reception location is unique and has an enclosure or an outdoor area for cocktails, this is the best time to use it. Patios, balconies, rooftops or even the poolsides … outdoor spaces on a warm evening can immediately set the tone for the evening. You should keep this space open throughout the party so guests can go outside to take a breather or make an easy phone call later.

Be Smart About Seating

Set up a few high-top tables (one per 10-25 guests) across the room and add tables with low seating for guests who may not be able to stand for prolonged durations of time. ( Lounge furniture is another solution to this problem and in a more Instagram-worthy way). In the end, you don’t want to place more than 30 percent of your guests during the hour of cocktails.

Have a Few Major Decor Moments

Avoid big floral arrangements for busy places like the bar or food service. To add visual interest, make your escort card display also serve as a captivating design feature. It is also possible to work with your catering company to devise creative ideas for serving your snacks. Heirloom is famous for serving bites in small seats or small dishes and baskets.

Music Should be Fun, But Not a Focal Point

The cocktail hour is a chance to chat and mingle with friends, and an act or DJ can overwhelm the atmosphere. Choose something more subtle, such as an orchestra, the strolling violinist, or acoustic performance.

Include an Interactive Element

If it’s something energetic such as lawn games, the photo booth or a simple option such as signing guest books, You’ll need to offer your guests at least one thing to do other than the usual drinking and eating.

Don’t be Tempted to Set an Area for Discards

Although it’s a big pet peeve of parties to allow toothpicks, napkins that have been crumpled, and empty glasses to pile up on tops of high-tops with no designated area to put them is a complete eye-sore. Instead, your caterer will choose staff members to serve in the capacity of “sweepers.” They will take away the trash and place them on a table, which is kept away from view.

Treat Yourselves Like the VIPS You Are

Theodorou assigns one of her staffers to the couple and another to the couple’s immediate families. So the most popular guests on the day don’t need to waste valuable looking for drinks and food.

Cocktail Hour Etiquette

Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about the wedding cocktail hour

How Long Does Cocktail Hour Last?

The typical time is an hour. However, it could go as long as 90 minutes if more time is required for photography or changing the reception area. If you’ll be staying for a longer time, it’s a great idea to incorporate some games and other entertainment to keep your guests entertained.

Do You Need to Have a Cocktail Hour?

It’s advised, Cocktail hour allows your group to make the food and put everything in motion. It also can enhance the overall experience of an event. It’s a disservice to yourself by not taking advantage of it.

Can You Have the Cocktail Hour Before the Ceremony?

It is certainly possible, but it does present a few problems. One issue with having cocktails an hour before the ceremony is getting the guests to their seats to walk across the aisle. Choose a specific time of the day when the bar will be closed and ask bartenders and staff of the venue to prompt guests to sit down. Make it shorter in case you haven’t tied the knot yet. Forty-five minutes to an hour is enough.

Can Guests Skip the Cocktail Hour?

It is generally accepted that cocktails during the evening are a good time to invite guests. “If you have another obligation,”. “But, it is part of the party, and the couple has paid for you to be there.”