Friday Five – Top Tips For Your Wedding Cocktail Hour

10/10/2014 | 1

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Image: Gypsy Westwood via You Mean The World To Me


The ‘cocktail hour’ as they call it over the pond or the ‘drinks reception’ as we may refer to it in the UK is most definitely up there on my list of favourite parts of a wedding day.


So what makes this stage of the day so significant you might ask? Well, everyone has just enjoyed seeing the happy couple get hitched and after all of the emotion of a ceremony it certainly is nice to enjoy a cheeky beverage or two and begin to relax into the celebratory vibe of the day. Of course as the bride and groom you will be just about ready to start letting your hair down and getting your drink on now too, so the cocktail hour always becomes one of the most laid-back and lovely times of the day.


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The post-ceremony drinks are also the first occasion that guests have to properly mix and mingle (and to oooh and ahhh together over how beautiful the bride looks and how gorgeous her gown is!), so the main focus of the cocktail hour is to deliver thirst quenching drinks and to keep everyone comfortable during their chinwags!


This segment of the day also sets the tone for what’s to come and signifies that the festivities have really begun. You can literally feel the excitement rise up through the wedding group during this prelude, building the anticipation for the fun-filled day ahead.


So kick-start your wedding merriment with a drinks reception that your guests are guaranteed to remember! Here to help is this week’s Friday Five, with five top tips for your wedding cocktail hour.


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Images: Ana Lui via You Mean The World To Me



Signature sips


Work with your hotel or caterer to ensure that servers with pre-poured drinks are ready for the moment that your guests enter the drinks reception. You don’t want guests to be waiting around or to be on the lookout for wait staff or creating a bottleneck over at the bar.


Signature cocktails are a wonderful way for your guests to whet their whistle. Personalize your signature sips by giving them personalized names and by picking choices that support your wedding theme. Stick to relatively simple concoctions to avoid lengthy waits at the bar. Check out these country-inspired champagne signature cocktails and destination wedding themed cocktails for ideas.


A drinks station is a fun and quirky idea that will allow your guests to help themselves, allowing you to offer a combination of tray served drinks and a drinks station selection. Why not serve up a signature cocktail that can be pre-made and served in pitchers at your drinks station or solely use it for soft drinks like fruit infused water?


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Food glorious food


Every time you attend a wedding aren’t you always hungry as soon as you arrive at the drinks reception? And as those delicious hors d’oeuvres and scrumptious looking canapés make their way out on silver platters you simply can’t help but sample each of the appetizing treats (whilst working out where the kitchen is located, so you can determine the best location to stand for catching the wait staff and their full platters first!).


With this in mind, be sure to satisfy your famished friends and family with a plentiful supply of appetisers! A good rule of thumb is 4-6 canapés per person if you are having a sit down meal for your wedding breakfast but this does of course depend on what time you are getting married and how long it will be until dinner will be served. Once you know the timings of your day discuss exact numbers of canapés with your wedding planner or caterer and get their suggestions. Choose a variety of options so that there is something suitable for everyone and ensure you find out of any dietary requirements before the big day to be able to include options for all.


You could consider a food station instead of hand served canapés or as well as. Be sure to keep this simple with finger food or selections on cocktail sticks that guests can pick up and eat with their fingers, as this will avoid creating queues around the food stations.


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Images: Gypsy Westwood via You Mean The World To Me 



Let me entertain you


Musical entertainment is a must to create an ambiance for your cocktail hour. Opt for a laid-back lounge atmosphere so as not to over power conversations and save your dance floor classics and your merrymaking for after dinner.


If you are getting married abroad then I’d definitely recommend booking local musicians as it really emphasizes the traditional side of your chosen location and it is something unique for your guests to enjoy. Spanish guitarists or Mexican mariachi musicians sporting silver studded charro suits and sombreros for example can be great light entertainment, or simply go for a classic jazz trio or an acoustic duo.


Have your musicians playing before the first guests enter your drinks reception area. There is nothing nicer than walking through to an area with the sound of music already faintly ringing through the trees, it sets a welcoming tone from the very beginning and instantly creates atmosphere.


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Take your seat


It’s vitally important to create space for your guests to be able to mingle however it’s just as imperative to consider seating for your cocktail hour. Great Aunty Agatha might be looking for somewhere comfy to rest her legs or your high-heel wearing pals might already be regretting their shoe choice and be looking to take a load off their tootsies.


If your venue has seating in the area where you will be hosting your drinks reception then perfect, however if you want to, you could use this as an opportunity to create more of an impact with your theme by installing some funky feet up furniture ideas. Hay bales, bean bags and vintage furniture can create fun relaxation zones, or a combination of high cocktail tables for resting drinks on and lower tables with chairs are a more practical and popular choice.



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Keep cool and carry on


If you’re getting married abroad somewhere warm, ensure there is ample shade for your guests. Your cocktail hour is likely to be in the midday sun so naturally shaded areas, poolside parasols or hand-held parasols will need to be on hand to keep your nearest and dearest cool.


If there is a chance that it be a little bit chilly or breezy then you could supply pashminas as favours for your female guests and have them presented in help-yourself baskets at the cocktail hour.


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Images: Gypsy Westwood via You Mean The World To Me




Comments (1)

  1. fun ideas, love the pink dreamer, looks so pretty

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