The 12 Best Wedding Cocktail Hour Ideas to Kick Off Your Wedding in Style

A Wedding Cocktail Hour (also known as Welcome Drinks in some parts of the world) is held after the ceremony and right before the reception. It allows your friends and family to unwind from the ceremony’s emotions and fills that free time in-between the wedding events so that your guests can catch up over drinks and snacks.

With a duration of around 60 minutes on average, the wedding cocktail is almost an event on its own and deserves extra attention. So from food & drinks to decor, you must make sure it all goes smoothly and that you are providing a great and enjoyable experience to your guests, in line with your wedding theme and mood (of course)!

Photo courtesy of Villa di Striano

On that note, there are many things you can do or add to make sure you have the best wedding cocktail hour. To help you out, here’s our collection of the best wedding cocktail hour ideas.

1. Scatter high tables around the area so that guests can sit a bit, place their glasses or snacks and chat freely while keeping the mood festive

Rentals: Hamptons Event Hire
Photo: Vue Photography
Photo: Sara & Rocky Photography | Planner: Sweet Pea Events | Florals: Dellables

2. Set up a lounge seating area for guests to relax in during cocktail hour. A lounge area can match any wedding theme, be it boho-chic, classic or elegant.

Photo: Meg Smith Photography
Photo: Tec Petaja | Planner: Jesse Tombs of Alison Events | Florals: Ariella Chezar  | Wedding Day Stylist: The Wedding Detailor
Florals: Oak And The Owl | Planning & design: Alexandra Kolendrianos | Photo: Joel Serrato

3. Don’t forget to add pretty signs to divide your area and show your guests the way. It will also allow you to convey any (sweet or funny) message you want.

Photo: Paige Jones Photography | Planners: Bash, Please | Florals: Twig & Twine
As seen on Etsy
Photo: Adriana Morais Photography | Planning: Como Branco

4. Add a personalized touch with customized cocktail napkins and drink stirrers. A beautiful wedding day is all about the details, after all!

Photo courtesy of Sip Hip Hooray
Photo: Palms and Pines Photography  | Florals: Bloom Floral 

5. Surprise your guests with live art they can take home as a wedding favor. This animation is entertaining and memorable, whether it’s a caricature, portrait, or a small frameable drawing.

Photo: Lori Paladino Photography
Photo: Amelia + Dan Photography

6. Set up and organize a fun and simple game station. The simplest games will have your guests enjoying the wait while having some unexpected fun.

Photo: Brooke Images via Wedding Wire
Planner: DM Events | Venue: Mansion at Natirar | Photo: Sally Pinera via Bride And Blossom
Photo: Brooke Images | Florals: Shea Hopey Flowers

7. Don’t forget to take weather into consideration. If you are planning an outdoor cocktail hour, beat the chilly weather with fire pits. Or go for paper parasols, fans or hats to keep your guests cool.

Photo: Carrie Patterson Photography | Planner: Beth Helmstetter Events
As seen on Pinterest
Photo: Adriana Morais Photography | Planning: Como Branco

8. Go for unique finger foods to satisfy those small cravings before the big reception meal. Just make sure they are mess-free and easy to eat!

Photo: Abby Jiu Photography
Caterer L’erba del Re Catering

9. Wedding cocktail hour is the perfect moment to introduce your wedding signature cocktail and drink! You can also go all out by opting for personalization.

Bar Services: Offside Events
Planner: Mitheo Events | Photo: Artographer
Photo: Aga Jones Photography  | Planning & Design: The Indigo Bride and Tres Chic Affairs 

10. Use this time to collect memories and wishes for your guest book. Cocktail hour will give your guests the time to leave for you any message they want. If you are looking for something more unique than a classic book, you will love these wedding guest book ideas.

Photo courtesy of Avant-Garde Impressions
Photo: Ashley Izquierdo
Photo courtesy of Castillo Parties

11. For more fun and priceless memories, go for the classic and always a crowd-favorite photo booth. And while the concept is a common tradition, these photo booth ideas are certainly unique!

Photo:  One Love Photo | Florals: Ravenna Bloom
As seen on Pinterest
Photo courtesy of Dear Heart Signs
Photo: Mary Ann Art & Photography & Jacky Lau | Calligraphy: Whale Whispers | Backdrop: Once Wedding Decoration

12. Finally, don’t forget about music! Yes, the music during cocktail hour is as important as the reception’s music. So go to the next level by hiring a live wedding band that will definitely set an awesome & interactive mood!

Photo courtesy of Musica Evento
Photo courtesy of Lux Music

Now you are set to host the best wedding cocktail hour! Want more? Check out the Prettiest Signature Wedding Cocktail Ideas & How To Upgrade Your Wedding Drinks for more cocktail hour ideas.

Meanwhile, if you are thinking of planning a destination wedding in Italy, then you’ve landed in the right place! Head to WedBoard, where you will find everything you need to plan your perfect Italian destination wedding, including the best destination wedding vendors in Italy and the most beautiful Italian wedding venues!

Feature Image Credits: Photo courtesy of venue Tenuta dei Mori Wine-Relais-Events

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