Best Cocktail Hour


The hugs are over and the happy couple have gone to have their photos taken – the cocktail hour that follows can be a make or break for the success of a wedding reception. The key is for people to have a fun time without over-indulging with the alcohol. Here are six tips for how to do it right.

1. Don’t pre-pour the champagne – We’ve seen plenty of set-ups with champagne walls holding a glass for every guest, or staff holding large trays of bubbles waiting for the guests to arrive from the ceremony area. Imagine the surprise for the guests when they discover their champagne is half-warm and half-flat. With the right number of waiters and the proper planning, a team should be ready to begin pouring when the first guests turn up. From there it should be a steady stream of glasses. Having a better glass of bubbly is worth the wait of up to five minutes.

2. It’s “cocktail” mostly in name – Don’t be fooled by the term “cocktail hour”. It’s not about a free-for-all where guests are ordering every cocktail in the book. There just isn’t the time or staff at most venues to be able to cope, and guests will be left waiting more than half an hour to get their mojito. The better idea is to have a pre-made cocktail or two as drink options.

3. Don’t forget the canapes – It’s vital to have some finger food for guests, some of whom might have missed lunch. You also don’t want alcohol to land on an empty stomach. Grazing tables are an alternative, but we recommend canapes brought around on trays as being the best way to make sure everyone gets enough to eat.

4. Games, games, games – Cocktail hour can often go much longer than an hour, so have some amusements available. Lawn games are a good solution and can be a great way to break the ice between people who don’t know each other so well. For this to be successful, we suggest appointing a games master, who could be the MC, to literally get the ball rolling.

5. Put on a show – If the budget runs to it, hire an act – anything from dancers to a sword swallower – and add that special touch.

6. Don’t stop the music – Having some sort of music for cocktail hour is a must – live or piped. If you’ve hired a DJ for the whole day, this is an opportunity for them to shine.

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