Updated at: 01-08-2022 - By: cnbusinessnews

The word itself describes what happens during a cocktail hour at a wedding. The hosts will provide drinks at this time for the visitors.

Here, we’ll discuss the norms and customs associated with the cocktail hour in greater depth. Feel free to browse our blog for more information on this historic event.

When it comes to starting a wedding venue, for example, you could find it useful to understand about the process. If this is a for-profit endeavor, you should familiarize yourself with customs like the cocktail hour and the event itself.

What Is Cocktail Hour?

In formal settings, the time between the ceremony and dinner is known as the cocktail hour. Now that the bride and groom have arrived, the reception can begin.

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Heirloom Catering & Event Design CEO Vicky Theodorou compares the cocktail hour to “the acclimating stage.” It’s going to be a wild party with plenty of booze, food, and mayhem.

Vicky Theodorou runs a catering company in the nation’s capital under the name Heirloom Catering & Event Design. Not only do they do weddings and parties, but Heirloom has also done events for Madewell, Lululemon, Instagram, Shinola, and West Elm.

What to Serve During Cocktail Hour

While the wedding dinner meal should be inclusive of all guests, the cocktail hour menu can be more creative and suited to your tastes. Theodorou claims that this is the time to be globally inspired and think beyond the box, even if your visitors are “more meat-and-potato sorts.” One should create a menu based on one’s favorite foods, one’s heritage, one’s most treasured dishes, and one’s experiences eating in different parts of the world.

Budget for two small portions of at least five different passed hors d’oeuvres for each attendee. Although it is possible that there will be some extras, this is not a problem. There will be leftovers for the vendor dinner, or they can be packed up and given to your hotel room for a fun late-night snack. Food stations (one or two are acceptable) should be set up in addition to the roving appetizers. You don’t have to worry about running out of supplies while the clock ticks. Don’t spend your time waiting for them to sell out, because the goods are only accessible for a limited time.

The recommended number of passed hors d’oeuvres is five, with two bites of each type allotted per visitor. More people than expected are expected, and that’s good. You can get a late-night snack delivered to your hotel room with the leftovers from the previous supper, or you can eat them at the meal. Food stations (one or two are acceptable) should be set up in addition to the passed hors d’oeuvres. There is no need to refill when the clock ticks past the hour. Don’t wait around for the products to sell out of stock since that will never happen.

Each guest should be served two small portions of at least five different kinds of passed hors d’oeuvres. It’s okay if there’s some leftovers. It’s possible to have a good time with the food you buy from the sellers even if you don’t plan to eat it all. In addition to the passed hors d’oeuvres, one or two food stations should be used. The demand for replenishment diminishes with each passing hour. Products are offered for a strictly limited period only, so don’t delay in making your purchase.

What if your bar doesn’t serve a trademark drink? Think about incorporating some seasonal silliness into a composition you’re working on. In the summer, Theodoru enjoys having a few popsicles with his prosecco in a coupe. The fall season is prime time for red wine harvest slushies.

Complete Guide On What Is Cocktail Hour At A Wedding

Cocktails will be served during the break between the ceremony and the reception. Small dishes and drinks like wine and craft beer are provided free of charge to consumers for an entire hour.

At the discretion of the hosts, rules can be bent during cocktail hour. By not ending the cocktail hour after an hour, for instance, hosts might give their guests a little more time to unwind.

Couples who are watching their finances may also want to consider cutting down on the length of the cocktail hour or the total amount of alcohol provided. Some people may decide they don’t want any alcohol at all.

When Is Cocktail Hour At A Wedding?

The cocktail hour is the time for guests to relax and mingle before the bride and groom exchange vows during the wedding ceremony. The cocktail hour is a wonderful way to kick off the reception and ensure that guests are amused all night long while the wedding party poses for photographs.

How Long Is A Cocktail Hour?

An hour is the standard time for a cocktail hour. In some cases, the hosts may make a 30-minute adjustment to the schedule.

To give just one example, a cocktail hour can go on for up to 90 minutes if there are multiple activities for visitors to partake in or if more time is required for photography. If you’re concerned about your visitors’ comfort, you can reduce the cocktail hour to as little as 30 minutes, depending on the occasion and the weather.

If you want your cocktail hour to have an effect, consider the setting. If both the ceremony and reception are to be held at the same venue, attendees may have to move from one area to another, or staff may need to switch the two locations around.

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What Do Guests Do During Cocktail Hour?

Music and performers

Guests can enjoy live performances and music throughout the cocktail hour. Keep in mind that the cocktail hour is usually only an hour long.

Photo slideshows

Showing a slideshow of happy times spent together as a group is a great way to add some depth to the cocktail hour. When your guests see themselves on the large screen in front of them, it’s a great opportunity for conversation.

Games and activities

If you want to keep your guests entertained for an extra hour or so during cocktail hour, this is a great way to do it. Having wedding-themed booths or activities where visitors may make their own crafts can be a fun way to keep them entertained and add a personal touch to the event.


Attendees at wedding cocktail hours enjoy the photobooth almost as much as the live music. The favors are a great way to give your guests something to remember your wedding by.

Does Cocktail Hour Mean Open Bar?

Even if the bar is open during the cocktail hour, that is not always the case. The hosts can choose to provide a host bar or a cash bar for the cocktail hour.

Communicate with your caterers directly to find out what drinks they have available at the bar. In order to control costs, some couples opt to pay for their wedding ceremony and reception on an hourly basis, for instance.

In order to prevent your visitors from overindulging, you may want to restrict the amount of free drinks they can enjoy. If the majority of your visitors do not drink heavily, you may want to explore a cash bar or a host bar, where you pay per drink.

Do You Need A Cocktail Hour At A Wedding?

A cocktail hour is a fun tradition for wedding guests. During the cocktail hour, your visitors can unwind, and your employees can get ready for the next event.

Your guests will likely look forward to a cocktail hour and will appreciate your hosting one. It’s a great way to break the ice before dinner.

During the cocktail hour, you can add special touches to your wedding celebration. Guests will have a far more enjoyable time and remember the wedding for a longer period of time if the hosts provide entertainment in the form of games and other fun experiences.

Do The Bride And Groom Go To The Cocktail Hour?

The newlyweds and their guests typically do not stay for the cocktail hour. Instead of strictly adhering to the wedding’s norms and customs, visitors are encouraged to relax, socialize, and celebrate with the newlyweds during cocktail hour.

Tips for Hosting a Cocktail Hour

Go Al Fresco if You Can

Use the annex or outdoor area of your reception venue during cocktail hour. On warm summer evenings, outdoor spaces like balconies, patios, and rooftops are ideal for hosting a party. Please feel free to let your guests use this space whenever they need a moment to themselves, whether it’s to catch some fresh air or to make a phone call.

Be Smart About Seating

One high-top table should be placed for every 10–25 guests and placed strategically around the room. Older guests who may have trouble standing for long periods of time should have access to low-seat tables. Using lounge chairs is a more Instagrammable approach to this issue. Do not plan on having more than 30 percent of your guests join you during the cocktail hour.

Have a Few Major Décor Moments

Large floral arrangements should be avoided in places where they might be knocked over, such as the bar or a food station. If you want to add some visual flair to your design, make your escort card display stand out. You and your caterer have a lot of options when it comes to the presentation of appetizers. Heirloom-style nibbles are typically presented in similarly little vessels, such as miniature bowls or skillets.

Music Should be Fun, But Not a Focal Point

Intimidating guests and making it difficult to have a meaningful conversation during the cocktail hour is the work of an overbearing band or DJ. Alternatively, you may hire a string quartet, an acoustic performer, or even a strolling violinist.

If you wish to hire a mariachi band, for instance, they should perform for no more than 15 minutes. Music acts can also be featured throughout the first 30 minutes of the cocktail hour.

Include an Interactive Element

There should be activities for guests to participate in aside from eating and drinking, such as lawn games, a selfie station, or signing a guest book.

Don’t be Tempted to Set an Area for Discards

Toothpicks and crumpled napkins piled on top of a high table may be an eyesore at parties, but reserving a space for them would only add visual clutter. Your caterer will then assign some of their employees to the role of “sweeper.” Garbage will be collected and placed on a drop table out of sight.

Treat Yourselves Like the VIPS You Are

Theodorou has assigned two staff members to the happy couple and their immediate relatives so that the wedding’s VIPs won’t have to waste time searching for refreshments.

Cocktail Hour Etiquette

Read on for some answers to questions that usually come up during the cocktail hour of a wedding.

How Long Does Cocktail Hour Last?

Ninety minutes may be needed if photographs need to be taken or the reception space needs to be rearranged. You might think about bringing games or other entertainment for your guests if you intend to remain for a while.

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Do You Need to Have a Cocktail Hour?

According to the theoretist, that is a fantastic plan. Your team can get dinner ready and get things rolling during the event’s “cocktail hour.” A refusal to accept it would be a catastrophic error.

Can You Have the Cocktail Hour Before the Ceremony?

That said, there are certain negatives to consider. For a cocktail hour prior to the wedding, guests should be seated before the bride and groom enter the ceremony. At a predetermined hour, guests should be invited to please take a seat and the bar should be closed. 45 minutes to an hour should be more than enough time, even if you haven’t tied the knot yet.

Can Guests Skip the Cocktail Hour?

The attendance of guests at the cocktail hour is assumed. If you have another obligation, Theodorou says. However, the event is free for you to attend since the happy couple wants you there.

Why You Should Have a Cocktail Hour at Your Wedding

Your Guests Will Love It

Researchers found that many wedding attendees looked forward to the cocktail hour. Many of these individuals are there for the beverages, of course. Having a cocktail hour at your wedding will certainly leave a lasting impression on your guests.

You Can Add Custom Touches

If you want your wedding to stand out from the others, the cocktail hour is where you can really let your imagination run wild. Your wedding reception’s cocktail hour is a great time to personalize the decor and other aspects of your big day.

You Gain Extra Time

Is there room in the schedule for more wedding images and/or a different wardrobe selection? Household chores can be completed while visitors mingle over drinks and appetizers. Cocktails allow attendees to unwind instead of having to rush from the ceremony to the reception.

It Puts Everyone in the Party Mood

Everyone can kick back and unwind during the cocktail hour after the solemnity of the ceremony. They might begin planning for the celebration by discussing it with friends and family and initiating contact with distant relatives. After the cocktail hour, your guests should feel more at ease, happy, and eager to participate in the reception activities.

It’s Already Included

If you want your wedding cocktail hour to be memorable without breaking the bank, here are some ideas. There is usually no need for a huge selection of alcoholic beverages, a fancy carving station, or an abundance of expensive gourmet foods. To maintain the ambience of elegance and sophistication, stick to a short cocktail list.

Nanina’s in the Park has dedicated itself for the past 60 years to creating and delivering magnificent weddings. In order to find choices that work with your concept and budget, it is recommended to get in touch with one of our event experts. You should schedule your estate tour and event date soon, as we are quickly reaching capacity.


Did you learn anything from this article? The cocktail hour at a wedding reception allows guests to interact before the formal dinner begins.

It’s beneficial to have one because it provides a relaxing environment for everyone. Portraits of family and friends can be taken while the team prepares for the reception.