Cocktail hour is a wedding guest favorite as it’s the prelude to the evening! Since it’s only typically an hour long, let’s jump into what areas to focus your budget on. Keep reading for our recipe for a cocktail hour your guests will remember long after your wedding day!
The most common complaint we hear about cocktail hour is not being able to get food or drinks! Since guests only have an hour, they don’t want to be standing in a long line for a drink or food. If the budget allows, consider adding on additional bars, food tables, or asking if certain appetizers can also be tray passed by a server.
While florals can definitely elevate your cocktail hour, don’t order additional florals if you don’t have to. Flowers are expensive, and your guests are probably focused on socializing with a drink in hand. Cocktail hour might be the first time your guests have an opportunity to catch up with each other, so they’ll be focusing on each other, rather than the decor and florals. Save it for the ceremony and reception!
There will be cocktail tables, of course, but consider adding on a small amount of seating for older guests. Adding on seating can be anything from picnic tables and benches if it’s outside, all the way to renting cocktail hour furniture or even asking your venue if they can set up 2 – 3 tables around the perimeter.
If your DJ or Band’s package is the perfect amount for your reception, adding their time on for cocktail hour might get pricey. Instead, you could ask if your ceremony musician would be willing to play during cocktail hour or you could always turn on a Spotify playlist! This is another area where you just need background music, and guests will be more focused on conversation than anything else.
Splurge: Garnishes and Mixers
Adding more variety in alcohols to your bar can easily up your bar tab. Instead, work with your bar tender to minimize alcohol selection so instead of offering 4 different types of white wine, and 4 different types of red wine, try 2 white and 2 red. Follow this pattern with your liquors too, but increase the number of mixers, fruits, and herbs. Your bartender should be able to work with you to offer a few different variations of the same drink that only vary by mixer or garnish.
While cocktail hour food is a great area to get creative, remember — the food only needs to hold your guests over until dinner. Going with lighter food options like cheese and crackers or dips, will be friendlier to your budget than serving mainly warm appetizers with multiple ingredients.
If you’re on the hunt for other budget friendly cocktail hour ideas, we’d LOVE to introduce you to one of our virtual wedding planners! For more on that, click here – they’re the most creative people we know!