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Lineup of Beautiful CocktailsA standard wedding is typically broken into two distinct portions: the ceremony and the reception. Though one usually immediately follows the other, there are plenty of circumstances where a window is left between these halves of the celebration. Instead of leaving your guests to their own devices, you might find a cocktail hour keeps the energy going and provides an easy place for friends and family to linger. To get the most out of one, check out these practical bits of advice. 

The Location

In almost all cases, the cocktail hour is held in the same venue as the reception. This allows guests the chance to have a few drinks in advance without having to drive to another location. However, there might be unique circumstances surrounding your event. If there’s no space for guests to wait before the reception area is ready, then you’ll have to opt for a restaurant or bar that is very close to the venue. If it is within your budget, hire a bus or taxi service to bring guests from the cocktail hour to the reception.

The Sustenance 

Perhaps the most important aspect of this portion of your event is the sustenance. The food and drink you offer will shape the rest of the night. In fact, couples will usually pull out as many of the stops as possible with the appetizers served during the cocktail hour. When you dazzle your friends and family with an array of delicacies, they will enter the party portion of the evening in better spirits. Couples who offer a signature drink will find that a cocktail hour allows your crew to take note of the concoction and try it out.

Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to savory treats, either. Appetizers served during this part of the event can easily include some sweets in the mix. Some couples might want to offer a palate cleanser like sorbet at the end of the hour so guests can enter the party with a fresh feeling. 

The Visual Appeal

Though your cocktail hour might be held in the same venue as your reception, it likely will be in a separate room. If possible, you can work with the management team in advance to decorate the room a bit. Though you don’t need to go overboard, centerpieces or floral arrangements that match the aesthetic of your reception can tie the entire event together in a thematic way. You don’t need to invest in extra decorations, either. The items used in the cocktail space can simply be moved to the reception hall when the time comes. 

The Relaxation Factor

Depending on how long or early your ceremony was, you might have guests who need to take a load off. The cocktail hour is as much a chance to recharge as it is an opportunity to socialize and eat. The space you use should always include plenty of seats. While you don’t necessarily need to have tables or creative drink stations, offering ample chairs and benches can give all of your loved ones room to ready themselves for a night of dancing and moving around. 

The Entertainment

If the window is wide enough between ceremony and reception, entertainment can also prove invaluable. Whether you hire musicians, performers, or artists to keep your guests occupied, entertainers can help create a fun and engaging atmosphere. Even silly ideas like renting a karaoke machine can be interesting if you’ve got a crowd willing to use it!

Though not necessary in all wedding arrangements, cocktail hours can provide a number of perks for the guests of these events. Get a feel for your options and see if you can work this extra step into your budget.

Category: Wedding Planning


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