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Couples, Take Note! Wedding Cocktail Hour No-Nos for Your Big Day

Congratulations, you’re getting married! Wedding planning is an exciting yet stressful time. You want everything to be picture-perfect for your big day, especially the cocktail hour. This joyous pre-reception mingling sets the tone for the evening’s festivities. However, some common cocktail hour mistakes can spoil the mood. Avoid these no-nos; your guests will rave about your wedding for years!

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As an eager bride and groom, you’ve spent months selecting the perfect venue, choosing a mouthwatering menu, and finding your dream gown. Don’t let small details trip you up now. Keep your guests happy during cocktail hour; the reception will flow effortlessly. Stay on schedule, provide ample drinks and nibbles, play upbeat music, and avoid controversial topics of conversation. Most of all, relax and soak in this magical time with friends and family who have gathered to celebrate your new marriage!

Don’t Skimp on Variety for Your Wedding Cocktail Hour

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For your wedding cocktail hour, variety is key! Make sure to include options for your guests. A nice selection of drinks and nibbles will keep the good vibes flowing.

Provide a Well-Stocked Bar

Make sure you have a bar set up with various alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices. Have wines, beers, cocktails, mocktails, juices and sodas. Consider a signature cocktail to tie in your wedding theme! Your guests will appreciate options to suit all tastes.

Offer Delicious Bites

Don’t just put out a few bowls of nuts or chips. Serve up delicious small bites, appetizers and finger foods. Sliders, spring rolls, bruschetta, meatballs, mac and cheese bites or mini quiches are perfect. Arrange cheese, fruit, and charcuterie boards for guests to graze. Make sure there are vegetarian, gluten-free and halal options too.

Keep the Energy Up

Play upbeat music to keep the energy and excitement levels high. Have the emcee make announcements, share your love story or highlight what’s to come to build anticipation. Keep things moving at a good pace and avoid any lulls.

Make it Interactive

Have some interactive elements to make it fun. A Polaroid guestbook or photo booth is always a hit. Set up some lawn games if space allows. You can also do a shoe game, trivia about the couple, or have guests sign in with a fun fact about themselves.

With a well-stocked bar, delicious bites, upbeat music and interactive elements, your cocktail hour will be an amazing start to your wedding celebration. Your guests are sure to be smiling, mingling and having a blast in no time! Make the most of this special time – the variety will keep them entertained until the main event.

Avoid Long Lines – Strategize Your Wedding Bar Service

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A wedding cocktail hour is meant for mingling and celebrating with your guests, so keep the mood upbeat and avoid any speed bumps.

Don’t Skimp on Staff

Fewer bartenders and servers mean long wait times for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Make sure you have enough staff so guests aren’t left empty-handed or with rumbling tummies. For 50-100 guests, 3-4 bartenders and 2-3 servers are ideal.

Strategize Multiple Bars

Set up bars in separate areas so guests are free of crowded into one spot. For example, have a bar for cocktails, a bar for wine and beer, and a bar for non-alcoholic options. This spreads out the crowd and ensures shorter lines.

Offer Self-Serve Options

In addition to full-service bars, provide self-serve water stations, coffee stations and stations for simple mixed drinks. Allow guests to help themselves so they always have something in hand.

Don’t Forget the Details

Seating, shade, and fans – provide guests with comforts so they want to linger. Have small plates of snacks spread throughout the area. Most importantly, start the cocktail hour on time and keep it within the typical 1 to 1.5 hour length. You want guests refreshed and ready to be seated for dinner!

A well-planned cocktail hour allows you and your guests to kick back, raise a glass, and soak in the joy of your wedding day. By avoiding long waits, strategizing multiple bars, offering self-serve options and considering comforts, you’ll keep the party going and the good times flowing. Cheers to that!

Steer Clear of Boring, Standard Beverages

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During your cocktail hour, steer well clear of boring, standard beverages. Your guests will appreciate unique, customized cocktails that reflect your fun personality and the overall style of your wedding!

A signature cocktail is a must. Work with your bartender to create an original drink named after the two of you or an inside joke you share. Consider your favorite flavors, colors, or travel destinations and build a cocktail around that. For example, a “Mint to Be Mojito” for mint-loving brides or a “Honeymoon in Hawaii” tropical cocktail. Your guests will love trying your signature drink and toasting to your new union!

You should also offer a “mocktail”, a non-alcoholic version of your signature drink or another unique option. Some crowd-pleasing mocktail choices include lavender lemonade, peach iced tea, or ginger lime fizz. Your non-drinking and underage guests will appreciate feeling included in the cocktail experience.

In addition to your signature drinks, provide a variety of other options at different price points. A full bar with premium liquors, craft beers, imported wines and bubbly is ideal. But also offer budget-friendly choices like a wine and beer-only bar. And be sure to include non-alcoholic choices like sodas, juices and bottled water.

Your cocktail hour is perfect for fun, interactive food and drink stations. Consider a make-your-own mimosa bar with different juices and fruit purees, a craft cocktail station where guests can choose spirits and mixers to create custom drinks or a nacho and taco bar with margaritas and Mexican beers.

An exciting, well-stocked bar and interactive experiences will keep guests happily mingling during the cocktail hour. Cheers to an unforgettable wedding celebration!

Don’t Neglect Non-Alcoholic Options for Your Wedding Guests

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Couples, your wedding day is all about celebrating your love and commitment to each other with friends and family. But in the excitement of planning this magical event, it’s easy to overlook important details—like providing non-alcoholic options at your cocktail hour. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and it’s the considerate thing to do.

Make sure to have appealing choices for guests who don’t drink alcohol, whether due to health, religious or personal reasons. Sparkling cider, juice, mocktails and non-alcoholic punch are all great options. Set them up on a separate table or bar, so they’re easy to find.

Remember that some guests may be underage or choose not to drink for other reasons. Provide sodas, flavoured fizzy waters, smoothies, milkshakes or fun tropical drinks without the rum. Set out glasses of ice or infused water with fruit for a refreshing choice.

For health-conscious guests or those with dietary restrictions, be inclusive by offering low-sugar, gluten-free and dairy-free choices. Coconut water, flavored seltzers, unsweetened iced tea, fruit-infused water and smoothies made with alternative milks check all the boxes.

Most importantly, make sure non-alcoholic options look as appealing as the alcoholic ones. Use attractive glassware, garnishes and displays so they appear equally inviting. Your guests will surely appreciate your thoughtfulness in making sure everyone feels included in the celebration.

Providing a variety of non-alcoholic choices at your cocktail hour is a considerate gesture that won’t go unnoticed. Your wedding day is for everyone, so make sure all your guests feel welcome with options to suit their needs. Cheers to you for hosting an inclusive celebration!

Don’t Let Your Cocktail Hour Drag on Too Long

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Couples, this one’s for you—your cocktail hour is meant to be enjoyed, so don’t drag it on for too long!

Keep it under 60 minutes

An hour is plenty of time for guests to mingle over drinks and appetizers. Any longer, and people may get antsy, especially if there’s a big gap before dinner. You want guests energized for events to come, not worn out! Keeping the cocktail hour short and sweet is key.

  • Start the reception soon after the cocktail hour. Make sure to leave guests quickly with nothing to do.
  • Provide entertainment like a live band to keep energy levels up. Music and mingling are a perfect pair!
  • Have additional activities like a photo booth, games, or a shoe game to transition guests from cocktails to the reception.


Make sure to skimp on the food!

Tasty bites are essential to a good cocktail hour. Make sure there are enough passed appetizers or a well-stocked appetizer table so no one goes hungry. Some crowd-pleasing options include:

  • Mini quiches
  • Bruschetta
  • Chicken satay
  • Spring rolls
  • Cheese platter


Keep the bar well-stocked

A variety of drinks, especially cocktails, will make the cocktail hour feel special. Consider offering signature cocktails in addition to beer, wine and basic spirits. And remember non-alcoholic options like sparkling water with fruit puree, sodas and juices.

Most of all, relax and soak in this special time with your guests! Stay present, mingle, greet and thank as many people as possible. Your wedding day will fly by, so savour each moment. By keeping your cocktail hour upbeat, delicious and the perfect length, you’ll start your wedding off on just the right note. Congrats and best wishes!


With just a few simple tweaks to your wedding cocktail hour, your guests will be raving about their amazing time at your reception. Avoid the common mistakes, focus on mingling with your guests, and keep the drinks and hors d’oeuvres flowing. Your cocktail hour sets the tone for the rest of the evening, so make it memorable for all the right reasons. With the perfect music, delicious cocktails, dreamy decor and a bride and groom who are present and enjoying every moment, your cocktail hour will be one your guests won’t forget. Now raise your glass and toast to plan an unforgettable cocktail hour and the start of your new adventure together as a married couple! The possibilities are endless.


The wedding cocktail hour is essential as it sets the tone for the reception and allows guests to mingle and socialize before the formal dinner. It’s a time for relaxation and celebration.

Some common mistakes to avoid during the wedding cocktail hour include running out of drinks and appetizers, neglecting non-alcoholic options, allowing it to drag on too long, and not providing enough variety in drinks and food.

Couples can ensure a smooth wedding cocktail hour by keeping it under 60 minutes, providing entertainment, having additional activities, ensuring enough food, keeping the bar well-stocked, and mingling with guests.

During the wedding cocktail hour, couples should offer a variety of drinks, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Appetizers can include mini quiches, bruschetta, chicken satay, spring rolls, cheese platters, and more.

Providing non-alcoholic options during cocktail hour is important to cater to guests who don’t drink alcohol due to various reasons. It ensures that all guests feel included and have appealing beverage choices.


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UPDATED 3:30 PM, Fri, 24 Nov 23
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