8 Tips for a Perfect Wedding Cocktail Hour


The cocktail hour plays an important role in the entire wedding. It kicks off the celebration, gives guests a chance to mingle, and serves as the transition from the ceremony to the reception. Of course, you’ll want the cocktail hour to be as great as it can be! Here are a few tips to create the perfect wedding cocktail hour.


Provide Comfortable Seating

You’ve likely designed a great seating chart for your reception, but don’t forget about the cocktail hour! It is important for guests to be able to take a load off, especially if you have older guests in attendance. Around the cocktail hour space, strategically place bar stools with high top tables, and maybe some lower seating with coffee tables. You can also leave some high top tables without stools for guests who are standing to put their drinks down.


Ensure You Have Lots of Space

The last thing you want is for guests to feel like they can barely move around the space. When choosing your cocktail hour space, make sure there is ample room for guests to comfortably move around and mingle with each other.


Tent the Bar Area for Maximum Comfort

If you’re having an outdoors cocktail hour, it is a smart idea to place your bar in a tented or covered area, especially if you are having a summer wedding. You’ll want everyone to stay cool and comfortable. Your guests (and your hardworking bartenders!) will appreciate it.


Hire Enough Bartenders

Speaking of keeping your bartenders happy, you’ll want to make sure you actually have enough staff behind the bar to keep things moving smoothly. You don’t want your guests to spend the entire cocktail hour waiting in line for drinks. A good rule of thumb is to have 2 bartenders for every 75 guests.


Create the Perfect Ambiance with Live Music

You won’t quite be in party mode yet, so save the club music for later in the night. Instead, have a live musician perform to create some pleasant background noise. An acoustic guitarist, violinist, or jazz duo or trio is perfect. The music should be subtle enough to allow guests to comfortably talk to each other.


Offer a Variety of Hors D’oeuvres

When working with your caterer, make sure you have a few appetizers that cater to different tastes and dietary needs. You don’t need an abundance of choices – there is no need to overwhelm anyone, and you’ll still want your guests to have an appetite for dinner! However, it is a good idea to have around four to six different options to cater to everyone who wants a small snack before the reception dinner.


Craft the Perfect Signature Cocktail

Signature cocktails are key to a great cocktail hour, as they add a personal touch to the celebration. You can offer up drinks based on you and your partner’s taste, and you can match them to the theme or color scheme. Logistically, they are also incredibly useful, as bartenders will be able to whip them up quickly (or even make them in a larger batch beforehand). You can also cut down on costs by only serving the hard alcohol used in your signature drinks, rather than having to stock the full bar.


Put Out a Tub of Bottles Beer

Guests don’t need to wait in line at the bar for a bottle of beer. To make matters easier on both your guests and bartenders, fill a tub with ice and put out a selection of your favorite brews. Don’t forget to also provide bottle openers!


Pick a Few Non-Alcoholic Options

The guests that don’t drink alcohol should be able to join in on the fun, as well! Be sure you have some mocktails or specialty drinks for them to enjoy. For example, serve some chilled lemonade in a drink dispenser for easy access, or a delicious hot apple cider to stay cozy in colder weather.


If you are in the process of planning your wedding, come to the next Georgia Bridal Show near you. You will have the chance to meet with professional wedding vendors of all talents who can help bring your vision to life!


Georgia wedding vendors, as well as other wedding professionals across the Southeast, can contact us about opportunities for exhibition and online marketing with Georgia Bridal Show.