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How to coordinate your Wedding Cocktail Hour. How to plan the Cocktail Hour. Wedding Cocktail Hour. This is the time built into your Big Day schedule that acts as a buffer between the ceremony ending and the reception starting. The point is actually to distract guests from the behind the scenes happenings… the better you do that the more seamless and relaxed your wedding day is for everyone experiencing it.

 As a couple, Cocktail Hour can be extremely helpful to you. You can use it to take a breath, go to a Couple’s Retreat, take Newlywed pictures and sign your marriage license. I also like that Cocktail Hour gives all those coordinating your big day a window for some massive transitions {another reason I promote the Couple’s Retreat… so you don’t see your ceremony site being torn down by the transition!}
There are three parts to a Cocktail Hour which I have broken down into three separate Project Blocks for easy production:

Entertainment | Project Block 7

What are guests going to do when they get there, drink in hand and they’re waiting for you to return for dinner to start? This ‘hour’ can be upwards of 45 minutes which is a long time to expect guests to stand around chatting…it doesn’t have to be complex, just a conversation starter, game or even observatory display they can ogle and reminisce over.


To tackle this Project, think about where you’ll be during the cocktail hour and how long you’ll be gone. I strongly recommend keeping this ‘hour’ under 45 minutes for guests. Make it just long enough for all the necessary things to happen behind the scenes in the provided cushion window: move chairs to the reception, caterer to prepare dinner, newlywed pictures, etc. Once you determine how long you’ll be gone or how much time is needed for smooth transitions, you can decide what might help guests enjoy the gap in the action.

Popular and easy solutions that actually give you some great pictures and fun memories are:

I Spy Camera Games with an Instagram Hashtag:  Perhaps the photographer will be with YOU during cocktail hour and you won’t want to miss your guests having a great time. How fun is it to open up Instagram and go gleaning through your hashtag after your wedding day? Here is an example. You can custom order I Spy table tents HERE. You can also use a chalkboard or other cute sign. Here is a Pinterest Board for more inspiration!

Appetizers | Project Block 8

Depending on how long it will be before guests get dinner, or if they are getting dinner at all, or if you wedding time is set around the dinner hour, you’ll need to consider giving guests a delicious “tide over” while they wait. These appetizers can be simple, affordable, multi-functional for your budget and even part of your decorations. Meat and cheese tray to several chocolate fountains… your choice.

This Project can be simple or elaborate. Are guests going to be hungry immediately after your ceremony? What time of day will it be? Or, are guests going to go immediately from ceremony to dinner with no wait? Based on your amount of time between ceremony and dinner you can decide how much food to serve. Less than 20 minutes = light appetizers such as crackers, meat trays, etc. But more than 20 minutes might call for some delectable, savory hors d’oeuvres either hand-passed by servers or displayed.

No matter what you choose, talk to your caterer and decide where it will be displayed. The big piece of this Project is actually proximity. You don’t want to display all of your food in the same location where all of the transitions are happening. Where you put your display is where all the people will gather, so move and position your people accordingly. Give your caterer the space they need to cook and prep dinner without a crowd of hungry people around them.

You might even opt for a self-serve station of popcorn, or another treat that doubles as your favor as it is up all night and can be taken home later! Multipurpose expenses to save you big money!

For more inspirations on both Projects 8 and 9, check out the Pinterest Board HERE

How to Coordinate your Wedding Bar. Signature Drinks. Wedding Bars.The Wedding Bar | Project Block 9

Are you going to offer alcohol and who is supervising it? What will you serve? Are you covering expenses and never forget about insurance! Project Block 9 has it’s own post to read which you can access HERE.

These three Projects that make up the Cocktail Hour typically differ tremendously among couples. For simplicity sake, I put them all together. For more in-depth, details refer to your Project Block Workbook Wedding Planning Guide and ECourse. 


Like what you read?

Hi there! I’m Kandice, Owner of Green-Eyed Girl Productions and engineer of The Project Block System. Thank you so much for stopping in on this blog post! For more Wedding Inspirations, How-To Articles, Vendor Advice and DIY Projects, join our Inspired Coordination Newsletter by subscribing below. You’ll get informational posts just like this in your inbox on Fridays.

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