What Is Cocktail Hour At A Wedding: Rules And More

The answer to what is cocktail hour at a wedding is essentially at the name itself. This is the period where the guests can enjoy cocktails. 

We will talk more about what you can expect during the cocktail hour, including the customs. But, of course, feel free to browse our blog for everything related to this special occasion as well. 

what is cocktail hour at a wedding

For example, you might benefit from learning how to start a wedding venue. If this is a business endeavor you’re eyeing, then you must familiarize yourself with the event itself, including practices like the cocktail hour. 


Complete Guide On What Is Cocktail Hour At A Wedding

The cocktail hour at a wedding refers to the period between the ceremony and reception where the guests can enjoy cocktails. In addition, they can have light appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, drinks, wine, or even beer for an hour. 

However, the hosts can choose to follow the rules commonly expected during the cocktail hour. For example, they don’t have to finish the cocktail hour after an hour to give the guests a longer time to enjoy themselves. 

For budget-conscious couples, they might also shorten the cocktail hour or lessen the servings of alcohol. Some people might even remove the alcohol altogether. 


When Is Cocktail Hour At A Wedding?

The cocktail hour is the 60 minutes between the ceremony before the couple says their “I dos” and the dinner where everyone can let loose. Because of this placement, the cocktail hour sets the reception’s tone and keeps the guests entertained as the wedding party does their portraits. 


How Long Is A Cocktail Hour?

The cocktail hour, from the name itself, is traditionally an hour long. However, the hosts can shorten or lengthen it by 30 minutes. 

For example, a cocktail hour can be as long as 90 minutes, especially if there are various activities for the guests or more time is needed for photos. On the contrary, the cocktail hour can also be shortened to half an hour, depending on the reception and climate to keep your guests comfortable. 

A consideration that can also affect your cocktail hour is the venue. For example, the layout might require the guests to get from one area to another, or the staff will need to flip the venue if the ceremony and reception are done in one place. 


What Do Guests Do During Cocktail Hour?


Music and performers

Guests can enjoy music and live performers during the cocktail hour. However, be conscious of the program, considering that the cocktail hour is usually only for an hour. 


Photo slideshows 

A sentimental way to spend the cocktail hour is to play a slideshow that shows various memories with friends and family members. It’s also a great way to interact with the guests as they see themselves on the screen up front. 


Games and activities

If you decide to extend the cocktail hour, a great way to pass the time is to indulge your guests in various games and activities. They can be customized games related to the wedding or booths where guests can make creative crafts to make the event more memorable. 



Perhaps the most popular activity second to music found in cocktail hours at weddings is the photobooth. It’s a fantastic way to provide guests with keepsakes during your special day. 


Does Cocktail Hour Mean Open Bar?

The cocktail hour doesn’t necessarily mean an open bar. The hosts can also opt to do a host bar or a cash bar during the cocktail hour. 

You can also consult with your caterers regarding their bar packages. For example, some couples opt for an hourly package to ensure that they stay within their budget. 

While it would be great for the guests to enjoy free drinks, you might want to prevent overindulgence. If most of your guests are casual drinkers, it might be better to get a host bar where you pay per drink or a cash bar where the guest will pay for their own drink. 


Do You Need A Cocktail Hour At A Wedding?

It’s advised to have a cocktail hour at a wedding. Not only does it give your guests time to relax and unwind, but a cocktail hour also gives the staff some time to prepare everything for the next event. 

Your guests can surely appreciate a cocktail hour, and most of them are probably looking forward to it anyway. It’s a chance to get warmed up before dinner and also mingle with one another. 

The cocktail hour is also an opportunity to make your wedding more memorable. Some hosts even include activities, games, and other custom touches that will surely leave the guests talking about the wedding long after. 

Speaking of memories, the cocktail hour helps the photographer take more pictures, whether portraits or candid. Finally, this extra hour buys the staff more time to prepare the venue for the next part of the event. 


Do The Bride And Groom Go To The Cocktail Hour?

Traditionally, the bride and groom do not attend the cocktail hour. However, most weddings nowadays are not strict with the customs and traditions, and the couple usually socializes and relax with their guests during the cocktail hour. 



Was this article helpful? We just discussed what is cocktail hour at a wedding, which is an hour between the ceremony and dinner where the guests can mingle and drink together. 

It’s recommended for you to have one as it’s an opportunity for everyone to decompress. It’s also a great way to take more photos with families and friends while the staff prepares for the reception. 

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