For the couple, the cocktail hour is key: it’s a chance to take photos with the wedding party, decompress (a bit!) after the ceremony, or if needed, have their wedding team do the changeover between the ceremony and reception. For guests, the cocktail hour is a time to mingle, have a drink or two, and nibble on some bites before the reception festivities begin. So what goes into the perfect cocktail hour?
- Cocktails! At the risk of stating the obvious, cocktails are usually the main event of a cocktail hour. Have waiters greet your guests with drinks to avoid an immediate build up at the bar. Try seasonal drinks (mojitos in the summer for example) and think about the aesthetics (cocktails can often complement your décor!). If you choose to omit alcoholic drinks for personal, cultural or budgetary reasons use this “cocktail” hour as a chance to offer some alluring nonalcoholic libations. Think mocktails, flavored sparkling waters and more.
- Music. Time to set the mood! Music should be fairly upbeat, but not dance music – save that for the reception. You can ask your musicians to play some low-key music or, if that’s not in the budget, you can ask your catering manager about hooking up a portable music device.
- Seating. Some sort of seating is necessary, especially for older guest. Lounge seating (sofas, ottomans, etc.) is great for a splurge, but do have a few chairs and a couple tables available. And if you can swing it, a few high top tables are perfect to give guests a place to rest drinks and plates.
- Food. Serve some passed hors d’oeuvres to tide folks over until dinner time. I also recommend setting up at least one food station – it creates interest and a place for guests to congregate and make conversation. Just avoid ingredients that will feature prominently in the main meal. So don’t serve steak sliders if filet mignon is your main dish.