A cocktail hour is primarily used to distract the wedding guests while you get some photos. It also acts as a prelude to the wedding reception. To make sure your guests remain content until your grand entrance, here are the wedding cocktail hour items that you should never skimp on!
What’s the most exciting element of a wedding for guests? The food! Grazing tables are peaking in popularity, as they as both visually exciting and tasty. Grazing tables can cost a pretty penny, but they’re an always appreciated appetizer. Pack the table with all your favorite deli meats, cheeses, fruits, jams and jellies. You can let guests eat until it’s all gone, or pay to have it restocked. If a grazing table isn’t your forte, hors d'oeuvres are equally delicious! Whichever you choose, make sure it aligns with your main dinner menu.

wedding grazing table
A Bar & Cocktails
The bar will be the hotspot of the wedding reception. Expect it to stay busy and be prepared to keep your guest’s glasses full. In general, you should provide both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Whether it be tea, soda, lemonade or other options. As for alcohol, you should have all the basics. Perhaps a whiskey or bourbon and vodka, plus any necessary mixers. Especially popular right now are signature cocktails, with one for both the bride and groom. And even the family pet! If you want, you can also provide a visual so that guests will know exactly what they are ordering. Meaning less waste and less money down the drain.

Wedding Signature Cocktails
Catering: @canyoncatering
Interactive Elements
Aside from making a trip to the bar, you’ll want to encourage your guests to get up, get moving and to socialize. One easy way is through interactive elements. Your options are endless but for the most part, these consist of games and photo booths. For games, it can depend on the venue. If you are outside, set up classic yard game stations. Such as bocce ball, cornhole and yard jenga. If you are indoor, place board games at each table to get everyone conversing. If you have it in your budget, we always recommend a mobile photobooth. Vintage buses and vans are especially popular right now, and are always a memorable feature.

wedding photo bus
As far as entertainment goes, the minimum must-have is music. You can hire a DJ, or a live band, although one tends to trump the other. In general, live bands will carry much more energy and passion, which will translate to your guests. For this same reason, the songs that you choose are just as important. Too slow and your guests may be ready to hit the hay. Too lively and they may not last past dinner. Speak to your entertainment candidly about the type of vibe you want to create for each part of the evening.
 Live wedding band
Comfortable Lounge Areas
Lounge areas are one of the least invested in, yet most important elements of a cocktail hour. Without them, people return to their dinner seats and are unlikely to converse with anyone outside of their party. By providing plenty of cozy places to sit and stand, people are more likely to roam and socialize. To create a lounge area, you can include a sofa, statement chairs, and a few places to set drinks. Plan to have two or three lounge areas.

wedding lounge area
Room to Roam
There is nothing worse to guests than cramped quarters. Like a small ballroom, where they have nothing to do but sit and wait. Be sure to give your guests a cocktail hour space that has plenty of room and places to roam. This can be as simple as securing the nearby lawn or balcony area of the wedding reception venue. In some cases it may require you to invest in a tent. As long as your guests have the option to get up and move with ease, no one should have a problem.

wedding venue
Venue: @redeemedfarm / Photo: @trishburtzel
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