Genevieve
Savvy November 2023

Should i have a cocktail hour at all?

Genevieve, on August 29, 2021 at 3:30 PM Posted in Wedding Reception 0 17
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Sooo I’m not sure what to do... I plan on having a “first look” with my fiancé on our wedding day before we have the ceremony and getting our pictures done early in the day. It’s cheaper and we’re having a winter wedding so it gets darker earlier. My ceremony and reception are in the same spot... so with that said, what should I do after the ceremony? Cause that’s usually when cocktail hour is right? And usually cocktail is when the bride and groom take their pictures, but we will have already done that... so should I have a cocktail hour at all? Should I go straight from the ceremony to starting dinner? Anyone having this problem or dealt with this before? Lmk what you think as a guest would work Smiley smile I’m open to all suggestions. Btw both our families are chill, laid back, go with the flow people. So our wedding will be pretty non traditional. Mind you it’s Viking themed 😄

17 Comments

Latest activity by Kari, on September 3, 2021 at 11:12 AM
  • J
    January 1895
    Jessa ·
    • Flag

    That really just depends on the time. You don't have to have a cocktail hour, but if its 4pm its way to early for dinner. I would think anything before 5:30pm would be too early.

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  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Legend March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride ·
    • Flag
    As a guest, I LOVE cocktail hour. I enjoy getting a drink, socializing and kinda loosening up with other guests before dinner.
    We did first look so we escorted our guests to the reception area for cocktail hour, grabbed a drink, then slipped out to change into our pirate outfits. It might be nice to have more time to socialize with your guests.
    • Reply
  • Chloe
    Devoted February 2022
    Chloe ·
    • Flag
    When is your ceremony? Will the guests have to wait a few hours between ceremony and dinner? If yes, you need to make sure that they are provided with drinks and snacks, so this would be a pro for the cocktail hour... You can just loosen the definition of a typical cocktail hour - after the ceremony, everyone will want to congratulate you and toast you, so you could do a champagne (or warm mead? For your Viking winter wedding) reception with some snacks lying around. Do a short speech, let people congratulate you personally - depending on how many guests you're having, this may take close to an hour. Are you having a group photo taken? This may be a good time to take it.
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  • Thinn
    Devoted September 2021
    Thinn ·
    • Flag
    I’m also having a first look and there will be a cocktail hour for us. The plan is to take formal photos with aunts/uncles and cousins during first half of cocktail hour and mingle with the guests the last half. We want to have a drink and enjoy that extra time.
    • Reply
  • Cece
    Rockstar November 2022
    Cece Online ·
    • Flag
    There is definitely value in having a cocktail hour, even if you already have photos done. (that being said, will you have ALL photos done prior to the wedding? ie, pictures with bridal party, parents, family members, etc… if not, you could use cocktail hour to finish those)
    Cocktail hour is a great time for guests to mingle before sitting down to dinner. It’s also a great time for you and your spouse to make your rounds, greeting guests and thanking them for coming. Plus, some of the best photos I’ve seen from weddings come from cocktail hours!
    • Reply
  • Alyssa
    Super December 2021
    Alyssa ·
    • Flag
    Also consider the fact that depending on the time of sunset, you may want “golden hour” photos which you may need to slip away for after your ceremony-this would work well if you had buffer time with cocktail hour (plus guests will expect it).
    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    I would still have a cocktail hour and then transition to dinner. Since the reception is at the same location, you can skip the fanfare entrance/introduction at the beginning of the ceremony since it is redundant.


    The cocktail hour gives you opportunity, in addition to dismissing the rows after the ceremony, to greet and mingle with your guests to avoid the long table visits cutting into dancing time.
    • Reply
  • S
    Expert September 2022
    Sarah ·
    • Flag
    We are doing a first look and will definitely be doing a cocktail hour. This time will be used to take family formals with parents, grandparents, and siblings. If we’re done early we will just join in cocktail hour
    • Reply
  • Suzie
    Super October 2021
    Suzie ·
    • Flag
    I’d still do one, it’s a good time for guests to mingle, have snacks and drinks, and just relax. You’ll be able to enjoy it with guests by doing a first look as well! We are planning on doing cocktail hour and socializing since we are doing for a first look as well.
    • Reply
  • Mcskipper
    Master July 2018
    Mcskipper ·
    • Flag
    You don’t have to make it any sort of different set up or big deal, but I’d definitely have a period where people can grab drinks and mingle before asking them to sit for dinner. Even if they’re in the same space, letting them stretch their legs and say hi to people for 20-30 minutes before taking seats is definitely a good move.
    • Reply
  • M
    February 2021
    Marie ·
    • Flag

    We aren't having a cocktail reception. Figure with the sit-down dinner and cocktails at the reception, no one is going to be hungry afterward. Also, like others we are having it at an all-inclusive resort, there will be a little time between the wedding and reception, but there are like 7 bars they can choose from if they want a drink between the wedding and reception...

    • Reply
  • Samantha
    Rockstar May 2022
    Samantha ·
    • Flag

    I don't think cocktail hours are needed. You don't have to serve dinner right away at the reception, so people have time to get a drink, use the bathroom, mingle, etc, and that way you dont have to worry about setting up a whole other cocktail hour. I think cocktail hours are a newer thing anyway, I remember going to weddings when I was younger, and people just did the ceremony, then went into the reception. No bigs.

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  • Michelle
    Devoted August 2021
    Michelle ·
    • Flag

    I think cocktail hour has value in that it's more casual and gives persons time to take pictures with you and each other. Don't forget your guests want to catch up with each other, too. Also, I second the above poster in that candid photos show a more laid back joy then maybe the more structured schedule of a sit-down dinner and dancing. However, if you and your partner personally find cocktail hour awkward, then by all means move your party along.

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  • Jessyca
    Dedicated September 2021
    Jessyca ·
    • Flag

    My FH and I are doing all of our photos and family photos ahead of the ceremony, then using cocktail hour to socialize with guests. We will have about 140 people so it will be much easier to be able to say hi to everyone in attendance if we have that additional time to socialize - we are also hoping that will cut down on people coming up to talk to us when we are all eating dinner. And similar to previous posters, we will be sneaking off for golden hour sunset photos during the last 15 minutes of cocktail hour and re-appearing for a grand entrance.

    A cocktail hour is definitely not necessary, but it definitely can serve another purpose than picture time.

    • Reply
  • Brooke
    Just Said Yes January 2023
    Brooke ·
    • Flag

    Hi there! I went to a wedding that did a first look & they did a cocktail hour and mingled and got their "hellos" out of the way and were on they dance floor all night!

    • Reply
  • Megan
    Dedicated February 2023
    Megan ·
    • Flag
    I’m always team cocktail hour! I feel like at most weddings, that is the BEST food and it gives guests who aren’t seated together at the reception a chance to mingle! We’re doing a first look too (winter wedding also!) so we’re going to use the cocktail hour as a chance to walk around and say hi to our guests in a slightly more informal setting!
    • Reply
  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    If you've already done photos, you can still have a cocktail hour and just use that time to mingle with your guests. You also can do a cocktail break between the ceremony and dinner that isn't a full hour if it doesn't feel necessary (30-45 minutes could be plenty of time for guests to get a drink and stretch their legs if you have a smaller wedding). I do think it's nice to have a break between the structured parts of the wedding. Cocktail hour serves as the "intermission" for your guests between being seated for your ceremony and then being seated again for dinner, toasts, first dances, etc.

    You should consider the timing of events as well. If skipping cocktail hour means starting dinner at 5pm, that's too early.

    I would recommend using the cocktail hour to mingle with all of your guests, thank them for coming, etc. That way you can skip the receiving line (which I never have cared for) and you also don't end up going around table to table during dinner, which always takes longer than you would think (unless you literally just say "thanks for coming" and skip any more meaningful conversation).

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