How to Elevate Your Cocktail Hour

Go beyond drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

Find out how to take your wedding cocktail hour from ordinary to extraordinary with just a few simple additions.

Photo: Braedon Photography

The cocktail hour is often seen as a simple way to keep guests occupied while the newlyweds take photos and the reception area is set up.  Background music, some appetizers, and libations are really all that is necessary, but some couples may find they want to go beyond the bare minimum and make the cocktail hour unforgettable. Signature cocktails may no longer be enough to stand out, so in order to make the transition period between your ceremony and reception special, you may want to bring in elements that guests otherwise wouldn’t expect until later in the evening. A unique venue or notable location can lend itself to a truly original idea, but the suggestions below can work for just about every space that might host your celebration. 

signature cocktails at wedding, how to make a wedding cocktail hour special

Photo by Braedon Photography

- Live performances. The band can start their set early before dinnertime, or you can bring in a separate group of musicians, dancers, acrobats, or other performers to entertain your guests.

- Games and activities. Provide something for attendees to do besides drink and eat. Lawn games, retro board games, or having a portrait artist available are just a few examples of how to keep everyone occupied. 

- Lounge areas. Some folks will just want to mingle with friends and family they don’t see often, and comfortable spaces to sit and chat will be appreciated. Sofas and armchairs will add a luxe feel to the event. 

- Photo station. This is often thought of as an alternative to dancing, but cocktail hour is a great time to take advantage of a photo booth or lovely photo wall, as everyone will still look fresh before the real party begins. 

- Unique snacks. There are classic hors d'oeuvres that people might expect at a wedding, but something more playful and personal will stick in the minds of your loved ones for years to come. 

For more ideas, be inspired by nine lounge areas at real weddings and learn how to keep kids entertained at a formal wedding