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Should You Serve Pre-Ceremony Cocktails?

These guidelines will help you decide.

carey jared wedding bar
Photography by: Anna Shackleford

Wedding ceremonies can last anywhere from five minutes to an hour or longer. Let's face it, people get thirsty in that amount of time. Deciding whether or not you'll serve drinks before the viws is entirely up to your venue's ability to do so, your budget, and the timing. While what to serve—cucumber and mint water, blood orange sparkling soda, Champagne, or a cocktail—is often the big question. Having planned and attended multiple wedding ceremonies, here's some of our best advice.

 

His and Hers Cocktails to Inspire Your Own Signature Drink

 

Think about timing and budget.

If your ceremony will last more than 20 minutes, it's appropriate to offer guests something to drink. Simple water will do, but if you have a little more cushion in the budget, you might consider serving celebratory sparkling wine and mocktails. For those with a longer ceremony, you won't want to open a full bar so early in the night, but you might consider serving cold beer, sparkling wine, and a specialty cocktail as guests arrive.

 

Consider different options.

There should always be an alcohol-free option available for guests. Some great options are sparkling water with muddled fruit, fresh squeezed lemonade with lavender, iced hibiscus tea, or rose and mint water. For the mid-strength or mid-budget option, cans of sparkling rosé, cider, or light beer are crowd pleasers that are easy for guests to grab-n-go as they find their seats.

 

Think about service style.

It's often easiest to set up a self-serve area for guests to grab their own water or iced tea from a dispenser pre-ceremony. If you plan to serve Champagne, cocktails, or mocktails, you may want to have servers tray-pass these items as guests arrive so there's no bottleneck at the bar.

 

Go with what works for you.

If you think you'd appreciate sipping on a cold drink during a ceremony, go with that instinct. If you think your ceremony will be short and sweet and guests can wait for cocktail hour, then trust your gut. As with all things wedding planning related, it's best to go with whatever works best for you.

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