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Do You Have to Have a Cocktail Hour at Your Wedding?

Are you willing to break with tradition?

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Ryan Ray Photography

While serving pigs in a blanket and sushi rolls aren't mandatory parts of getting married, a wedding's cocktail hour is the part of the day most guests will say they look forward to the most. Plus, the food and drinks served during cocktail hour are usually what guests remember. But if you're eager to get the real party started, or otherwise pressed for time and looking to stretch your reception, there's no rule that says you have to have a cocktail hour. You can certainly do away with this tradition if you'd like to, but there are reasons to seriously consider having one after all. Here, five reasons why it's worth having a cocktail hour at your wedding.

 

Related: Cocktail Hour Ideas from Real Weddings

 

It gives guests a chance to socialize.

A cocktail hour is more casual than the reception's dinner, so it's no wonder that many guests say this is their favorite part of the day. They get to eat, drink, and walk around, meeting and greeting one another as they please. You'll have a chance to socialize, too, which means you can avoid making the rounds to each table during dinner.

 

It's a great place to add a custom touch to the day.

Want to make your wedding day really personal? Have a cocktail hour with foods that represent your ethnicity and his, or that showcase your favorites. Also, a cocktail hour allows you the opportunity to introduce a signature drink, which could be as simple as your favorite cocktail with a catchy name like the "Just-Married Mojito."

 

It gives you time to say "cheese."

Not the dairy kind, but rather the smile-for-the-camera kind. Even if you take some photos before the wedding, you'll probably need to take some shots afterward, too. If you didn't have a cocktail hour, what would your guests do after the ceremony while you're away posing?

 

It gets the party started.

Give them some tasty canapes and cocktails and everyone will soon be in a celebratory mood.  

 

You can offer a modest one.

Not every cocktail hour has to feature shrimp or carving stations. If you're thinking of skipping it because of budgetary reasons, work with a caterer who can offer you a menu that you can afford. You can also have a limited bar—wine, beer, and soft drinks. As long as you give people choices, most won't complain.