Planning Your Wedding Cocktail Hour

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Think of your wedding cocktail hour as a better version of your favorite happy hour.

It’s early in the evening and all your loved ones are together in a stylish and romantic atmosphere, complete with your favorite drinks, food and music. There’s really nothing better. Your guests will spend that hour visiting with each other and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres and sipping on drinks.

Many couples do not attend their cocktail hour as they are often photographing their Romantics session or want to make their first appearance during their grand entrance. Here’s what you need to pull off a fabulous wedding cocktail hour ideas at your wedding.

1. Set The Mood With Music

The cocktail hour is a great time to play some of your favorite songs. While it’s common to play light jazz or standards, this doesn’t mean you have to play cheesy elevator music, but matching your music to the mood is a good idea. There is no rule that you must follow – anything goes at cocktail hour. Your professional wedding DJ will be able to read the room and properly set the mood.

PRO TIP: Since you’re not at the dance party yet, keep the volume turned down and the vibe mellow so people can chat with ease.

2. Cocktail Hour Decor

You’ve spent months planning your wedding  choosing your reception décor, so don’t forget about cocktail hour, especially if it’s in a separate space.

You’ll want to give people room to mingle easily, so don’t crowd the room with chairs or tables. Instead, provide enough seating so your older guests have a comfy place to rest and anyone who’s wearing high heals can take a break. Small centerpieces and extra votive candles can be a great way to finish off the room. For example, if your cocktail hour is outside, but your reception will be inside a ballroom, don’t be afraid to vary the décor.

3. Creating Cocktail Hour Ambiance

After your ceremony, your guests next step on your big day is the cocktail hour. If your venue has the option of a separate space, this will allow your reception area to still have its own unveiling. Many venues will offer you a terrace, lobby or separate room for the cocktail hour. Regardless of where it will be, make sure that the layout of your cocktail reception is easily accessible, offers a few seating areas or tall tables to set glasses or empty dishes. Low tables with chairs along the exterior and high tables in the middle create an inviting atmosphere. Consider adding uplighting to create cocktail hour ambiance.

4. Bar Service

If possible, offer guests a drink as they enter the cocktail reception. This will help to minimize bar crowding. Servers can offer wine, champagne or your signature cocktail. Avoid placing a drink station near the entrance or guests may feel crowded as they enter the area.

It is not necessary to offer a full bar during cocktail hour. Craft beers, white wine, red wine and non-alcoholic offerings are sufficient and budget friendly. In general, guests will have two drinks during the hour. To avoid service delays, it is best to have one bartender per 100 attendees.

5. Appetizer Menu

Cocktail hour is not meant to be a mini dinner. Vegetables, cheeses and a few finger foods are plenty during this time. If possible, avoid items requiring forks and knives unless you have ample seating and tables for guests to sit. A few servers passing hors d’oeuvres and a small area where guests can serve themselves is a convenient option for your guests .

Choosing Your Wedding Cocktail Hour Music

Who doesn’t love cocktail hour at a wedding? Drinks are poured, tasty appetizers are passed and guests mix and mingle before a memorable evening ahead! Consider it the pre-party to your reception and you know that what means — good cocktail hour music is a must!

This is a great time to show off your personality as a couple because there is no right or wrong cocktail hour soundtrack. In other words, don’t feel like you have to play Jazz or slower songs that could bring the vibe down. Why not play your favorite Hip Hop hits, just instrumental versions of them? MIND BLOWN! How about turning things up a notch with swing music? Could you imagine a cocktail hour featuring movie and & TV show themes? How unique is that? The only ‘rule’ we suggest: Keep the music volume mellow enough so conversations keep flowing!

When it comes to music, our professional wedding DJs at Mike Staff Productions like to keep things interesting and FUN and cocktail hour is great time to push the musical limits. If you need help determining best cocktail hour music for your big day look no further than our Spotify Playlists.

Hits With A Twist

Love modern music but still want your wedding day cocktail hour to have a classic feel? These are all of your favorite radio jams, but we promise you’ve never heard them this way! Consider these tunes ‘hits with a twist’!

Upbeat Classics

Who says cocktail hour music has to be boring? I am willing to bet your guests will know nearly every song on this playlist! These tracks will get everyone singing, raising their glass and getting pumped for your reception.

Downtempo EDM

You’re probably thinking HUH? EDM for cocktail hour music? Not all electronic music is created equal! This style of EDM won’t turn your cocktail hour into a night club but create a chill, lounge, ambient feel for your guests. Give it a listen!

Jazz / Swing

How can you go wrong with the voices of Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gilespie and Tommy Dorsey serenading your guests during cocktail hour? From classic Jazz to swing tunes – The Mike Staff Productions DJs created this playlist to keep everyone on their feet!

Hip Hop Instrumentals

If you live & breath for hip hop music – how cool would it be to have nothing but the smooth beats as the soundtrack to your cocktail hour? Talk about unique! Hip Hop Instrumental has been a huge hit with Mike Staff Productions DJs.

At Mike Staff Productions, we’ve built our whole business around reclaiming the fun in your wedding planning. Ready to start?

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