Cocktail hour is an essential part of your wedding day as it gives your photographer time to capture shots of the couple and their wedding party. But if you're nervous about guests feeling bored while they wait for the bride and groom to make their grand entrance, there are fun activities you can plan for them while they wait—especially if you're heading off-site for more than an hour. A full bar and great appetizers are sure to please your friends and family, but the addition of games and activities will surely make you the best host ever. Here, we share eight great ways to keep your guests occupied while you're off taking photos.
Encourage guests to mingle with each other during outdoor cocktail hour, says Laura Ritchie, principal event designer at Grit & Grace. "Go beyond the quintessential corn hole and do a series of lawn games so more guests can participate," she says. "We suggest Bocce Ball, Giant Jenga, or [create] a customized crossword puzzle about [you and your future spouse]."
Thematic entertainers can awe your guests while they await you to arrive at the reception, says planner Amy Nichols. "Mariachi singers are great for a Mexican-inspired wedding or locale, or if you and your fiancé have a flair for the dramatic, perhaps a magician or other surprise performer," she says.
For the couple with a bit of edge, a temporary tattoo parlor will get conversations going. When Ritchie and her team created one for a daring couple, it began as a quirky inside joke and developed into a fun activity for guests of all ages. "We specifically chose tattoos that referenced the likes of the bride and groom, and the story between them," she says.
Mix It Up
Upgrading your bar selection is sure to be a hit with your guests, Nichols says. Hiring a mixologist can offer up new cocktails while also teaching your guests about craft drinks—as well as history behind drinks special to your location. "Interacting with your guests, while educating them about their favorite drink is a sure fire way to keep your guests engaged during the cocktail hour," she says.
Read All About It
In lieu of traditional programs, create a custom newspaper of the story of the both of you as a couple, Ritchie suggests. Not only is it informative, she says, but also "a way to show the connections that the couple [has] to each attendant."
Make your cocktail hour activity a little more permanent by establishing a fabric station where guests can write well wishes on squares to be included in a quilt that you'll cherish throughout your marriage. "The options of crafting during cocktail hour are as endless as your creativity," Nichols says.
Cocktail hour is a steadfast tradition, Nichols says, and your guests will expect to catch up with friends and family during that time. "Waiting becomes an inconvenience only when wedding guests don't have ample places to sit, food to eat, or a great drink to enjoy," she adds. "Creating lounge spaces allow the wedding guests to gather in a comfortable place, sit down momentarily and relax together while waiting for the wedding party to arrive."
Hire a Pro
Photo booths can be fun, but it may be worthwhile to provide something unexpected as a takeaway for your guests, Ritchie says. "A strolling silhouette artist [for example], cuts out profiles of your guests and mounts them onto small frames, while a poet, like The Haiku Guys & Gals remains stationed with a typewriter and creates custom haikus for each guest."