The Cocktail hour is often the most overlooked portion of the wedding yet it can be the most memorable for your guests if done right.
Here are a few tips to make your cocktail hour one for that your guests will talk about for years to come:
1. Provide cocktail tables: You want guests to have “surfaces” where they can comfortably place their plates once they have picked up their food. You should provide at least one cocktail table per 20 guests. More is even better 🙂
2. Dress up your tables: To save costs, you can use the basic linen provided by your location. It will usually be white/ivory and included at no extra charge. You should also include a small floral centerpiece or pillar candles and a large ribbon to match your color scheme which you can tie on the linen or use as a table runner for the cocktail table.
3. Provide seating: We cannot emphasize enough, the importance of providing seating, not just for your older guests but for ladies wearing heels who may not want to stand for an hour 🙂 As a rule of thumb, you should provide a minimum of 20 seats for every 100 guests. Many hotels/country clubs, provide their non specialty chairs i.e. white folding chairs, ballroom chairs etc for free. Take advantage of these and let your guests enjoy themselves.
You may also mix it up and provide lounge seating; your guests will be pleasantly surprised and once they move into the dinner room, you can move the lounge furniture to your “party” room if you have onepinterest
4. Offer an interesting menu: Think about foods that your guests normally eat. Since your guests have been in your ceremony for upwards of an hour (sometimes two or three), you want to give them something familiar and delicious. Remember, no matter what food it is, the beauty is in the presentation 🙂 Therefore no foods are off limits. You can offer at least one live station and 3 passed hors d’oeuvres. Burgers (beef, chicken, fish), pasta, duck rolls, sushi, shawarma, cheese (and breads) to mention a few, all offer great live stations. For your passed appetizers, think lamb chops, boneless chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, suya/spiced snail/spiced gizzards (for Africans) etc. Make sure that whatever is meant to be served hot should be hot and cold foods should be cold.
5. Drinks at the bar: Drinks during the cocktail hour are essential. If you are thinking about cost, you don’t have to provide “cocktails”. A great alternative is sparkling cider ($2 – $5 per bottle) and a punch/lemonade served in a beautiful glass with a garnish. You could also serve sodas in old fashioned bottles (usually a crowd pleaser). Don’t forget to serve water. To ensure a smooth flow during cocktails, serve some drinks at the bar and have a waiter pass another set of drinks to the guests. This way, you don’t have congestion at the bar. Finally decorate your bar. You can use any leftover flowers from your decorator or use letters (the first letters of your name and your fiancé’s). If you have the budget space, you could also carve your monogram in ice 🙂 or have a “glow” bar
6. Entertainment: You should provide some type of music for your guests. It can be as simple as a solo musician on a piano or a CD playing or you could hire a full band. A way to save costs is to hire the same musician who played for your ceremony for your reception. Generally, musicians who charge by the hour, will charge a flat rate for the first hour or two and a reduced rate for subsequent hours. Take advantage of this. You should also provide an activity for your guests. This may range from setting out their seating assignments so that they have to go and identify their seats, including a signing area (e.g. wish tree, guestbook, Polaroid picture station etc) or games for them to play.dotunpinterest
7. Timing: Finally time it properly. Your cocktail hour should begin right after your ceremony (if you are in the same location for both) or as soon as guests begin to arrive at the reception location. Your cocktail hour should not exceed an hour and a quarter. 45 minutes is ideal as guests have just about enough time to enjoy all the elements of your cocktail hour but it’s not enough time for them to get bored.
thanks for reading! Happy Planning!