Happy Friday! We don’t know about you, but we are ready for a nice cocktail to wind down from this busy week!  Speaking of cocktails, today on the Southern Bride Blog we have some tips on how you can create a fabulous cocktail hour. Whether in between your wedding and reception, a small or large gathering with friends, engagement party, rehearsal dinner or any event that calls for celebratory cocktails – take note!

Choosing the Drinks: First thing to do is decide what type of drinks you want to offer your guests. Is it just going to be champagne? Will you have a signature cocktail? Or will you have a variety of items available at stations or a bar such as beer, wine, champagne and cocktails? There is no right or wrong here, it all depends on the type of event, budget and number of guests. We do not want to forget about the guests who are underage or will not be drinking, so be sure to have some sort of non-alcoholic beverage as well.

Consider the Season: If you are having a Fall or Winter wedding or event, a warm cocktail is nice to offer guests. There are a number of warm cocktail options to choose from. A spiced cider is always a hit. You could even have a coffee station with different flavored liqueurs (also a great idea during the reception). If you are having a Spring or Summer event, have a refreshing cocktail to cool down your guests. Lemonade (non alcoholic and spiked) is always a favorite along with so many other refreshing options.

Contact your Caterer: When meeting with your caterer, discuss the cocktail hour with them and let them suggest some great cocktail options and ideas. Also discuss hors d’oeuvres that will perfectly pair with the cocktails you will be serving. Your guests will not only want to enjoy a tasty beverage but also a little something to munch on as well.

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{photo credit: Eden Frangipane Photography}

How to Serve: There are a number of options as to how to serve cocktails to your guests. There’s always the traditional bar, however long lines can become frustrating to guests. Upon entering the cocktail reception area, having servers greet guests with trays of champagne or signature drinks is always nice. If you do this, then a bar can provide additional drinks such as beer and wine. Drink stations is something else to consider. Instead of having one bar for everything, have each beverage broken up into a station and in different areas of the space/room: one for beer, one for wine and one for the signature cocktail. This will keep long lines down and will easily allow your guests quick access to their beverage of choice.

Keep ‘Em Comfy: While seating for each guest is not a must during cocktail hour, having a few tables with seats for those guests who need to take a load off is always a good idea. Also, have some high and low cocktail tables so guests can rest their drinks as they socialize.  If you really want to go all out, lounge furniture throughout the space creates the ultimate cocktail hour atmosphere.

Music is a Must: Whether the band starts playing, the DJ starts jammin’ or you simply have music playing in the space – music is a MUST! This sets the mood for the celebratory night ahead. Brides and Grooms – make a play list or sit down with your DJ or band and discuss what type of music you want to have playing during cocktail hour. You may want to keep things a bit mellow during this time and save the jams for later on during the reception. Something to think about!

Don’t Forget the Details: Sometimes even the smallest of detail is what your guests will remember about your wedding or event! Think about napkins, straws, coasters, signage and more that will make your cocktail hour unique and memorable! Also think about the bar and drink stations and add some flair to those areas whether it be with flowers, candles, signs or other decorative elements.

Remember This: Having a cocktail hour is the beginning to the fun filled celebration ahead. While it’s nothing to get too stressed out about during the planning process, just remember that this will set the tone for the rest of the evening!

Cheers!

{by: Lindsey Conrad Nabors}

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