How to Put a Modern Spin on the Classic Cocktail Hour

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With all the time and money that goes into throwing your wedding, why would you want to miss one fabulous second of it? That’s why more and more couples are opting to have the bride’s big reveal and take their group photos pre-I do’s – that way they, too, can hang out with the crowd during the cocktail hour. As a result, this formerly mostly-functional mixer has gotten a rather fun face-lift.

Like the idea of joining your own party? Here’s how to kick your personal happy hour into high gear.


If the ceremony and cocktail hour are in two different locations, you can get the party started before guests even arrive by providing unique transportation, such as a shuttle bus or trolley. You can even take the group for a tour of a few favorite local sights, suggests Yolanda Crous, fahion and travel director of Brides magazine.


The cocktail hour helps set the tone for the rest of the night, so make sure there’s festive music from the moment you arrive. Ashley Lloyd, of Salt Lake City-based Attention 2 Detail Events, advises playing softer tunes that people can still talk over. But don’t think you’re limited to an iPod – Lloyd suggests a Spanish guitar player, jazz trio, bluegrass musicians, a calypso or steel drum band, or even a lounge-style singer.

Projecting a slideshow of family photos also is an easy way to create ambience. But the best way to help guests break the ice is to get them involved in activities, says Crous, who recommends anything from pingpong and badminton to lassoing lessons at a ranch event. You can also get the photo booth going and offer an engaging guest book alternative, like having guests write messages on fabric squares for a quilt or on puzzle pieces that you’ll assemble later.

Food & Drink

Get drinks in your guests’ hands ASAP by having servers pass favorite or signature cocktails, advises Lloyd. Additional wait staff can carry trays of fancy iced tea, Champagne and even a spirit like whiskey on the rocks, to ensure everyone has something they love. Many couples also are offering craft beer stations and wine tastings, says Crous, as well as special lemonade stands just for the kids.

The cocktail hour also is a great time for action appetizer stations and/or showcasing local cuisine. If you’re in New England, for example, you could create a cold seafood bar in a rowboat filled with ice, says Crous. But you don’t want guests to fill up before dinner, notes Lloyd, so focus on small bites that pack big flavor and items that don’t require utensils, as your guests will likely be walking around enjoying the rest of your amazing event.

© Brides365

Tags: cocktail hour, food, drinks