The cocktail hour may not be the highlight of your planning details, but the hour or so spent sipping drinks and tasting gourmet hors d’oeuvres are some of the best moments for everyone at the party. I want to bring to you some ideas, trends and details that will make your cocktail hour the perfect preview into your reception.
Before we get too far into things, let’s stop and reflect on how you want your overall reception to feel, look, and sound. Once you have determined what your reception will be like, this is where your cocktail hour can begin to set the mood for what’s to come for the rest of the night.
Here are some ideas to jazz up your cocktail hour and “get the party started right.”
1. Keep it Consistent, Open and Playful
- Make your cocktail hour a reflection of what your guests are about to enjoy in the reception room. Is it modern? Is it salsa? Is it high-end sophisticated? Let the set-up of your cocktail space be comfortable, inviting, and most importantly a reflection of your style.
- Top Shelf: Bring in comfortable furniture of all heights and sizes for your guests to sit, stand and mingle. It sets the stage, heightens the mood and really looks fabulous.
2. Signature Drinks
- Choose a special signature drink for the night. This could be a specially designed and prepared cocktail in honor of you and/or the groom for guests to try or a classic favorite. Make it special with “homemade syrups, freshly squeezed fruit juices, and real sweeteners; this will always impress your guests,” advises Rick Rehmer our professional mixologist at Vine & Table in Carmel, IN. “Use gin, vodka, or tequila for your main base and add a little food coloring to complement your wedding décor. This won’t affect the taste or dye your guest’s mouths.”
- Top Shelf: Build a great bar with a few names such as: Belverdere Vodka, Tanqueray 10 Gin, Johnnie Walker Black (premium scotch), Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Jose Cuervo 1800 Silver (premium tequila), and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (for the ladies of course). Not only will they make your cocktails taste great, but will keep your guests impressed even after the night is over.
3. Music for the Mingle
- Have your music reflect your style, but keep it soft. This will allow your guests to mingle, enjoy conversing and have the occasional sway.
- Top Shelf: Hire a live Spanish guitar quartet, jazz trio or acoustic duo for both entertainment and music. Keep them an extra hour for a little walk-through during the first courses of the reception meal.
4. Serve Cold Brews or Champagne
- Imported, lights, and local microbrews are always a hit for your man power. The bottles look great with their custom brands for added style and of course taste fabulous. Champagne is the traditional celebratory drink but with the new trend of puree blends, candied hibiscus, pop rocks and other mixtures, champagne becomes as playful as it is tasty and can really add to your cocktail experience.
- Top Shelf: To keep lines down by having separate microbrew/cold brew and champagne stations off to the side of your cocktail space. This will give the beer connoisseurs more of a selection and champagne lovers a fun experience to place different mixtures to their glasses for a spectacular champagne adventure.
5. Make It Bite Size and Utensil Free
- Make sure your passed hors d’oeuvres are perfectly portioned to take in one bite and utensil free. Your caterer will bring spectacular food from the cocktail hour through the reception, but let’s be honest; everyone looks forward to the main event, which is the entrée. Don’t make your guests too full before your dinner is served. Wow them with bite-sized options filled with blasts of flavor and color. Utensil free makes your cocktail hour easier for your guests to mingle, walk, stand and enjoy their evening without the added plates and utensils to get in their way of having a great time.
- Top Shelf: Let your guests interact by having hors d’oeuvre stations such as seafood or tapas. It’s great for your guests to make their own plate and continue mingling. Or better yet, make your night environmentally friendly by having your hors d’oeuvres served in edible spoons or bamboo shoots. They’re fun, they look great, and at the end of the night you feel great for helping out your Earth.