Wedding Cocktail Hour Must-Haves

Following the formalities of the wedding ceremony, cocktail hour is a refreshing, laid-back time for guests to mingle with each other and the happy couple. Consider it a prelude to the reception rather than a necessary time killer while the bridal party finishes up taking photos. If you have some fun playing up the wedding theme, and maybe even personalize your accessories, it could be one of the best parts of the big day! You can definitely get the party going on any budget (whether you have an open bar or not) with these eight things.

Signature Cocktails

Of course drinks are an essential part of any cocktail hour, but having signature cocktails honoring the bride and groom is a simple way to make your wedding even more true to the two of you. You can create your own drink menu to help guests keep all the options straight. Don’t forget to think of equally delicious non-alcoholic beverages for the little ones or for guests who choose not to partake in the alcohol.

Budget-friendly bonus tip: If you aren’t planning to have an open bar, an all beer and wine menu is still a tasteful option. Or instead of offering every type of liquor, just offer signature drinks so you can take advantage of bulk discounts.

Unique Glassware & Serving Trays

Glassware is an easily overlooked element that can really bring a different feel to an event. A blush pink glass or one with intricate detail enhances any tablescape. Your glassware can double as décor or even as gifts if you choose right. See how this mismatched stemware compliments the flowers. Also, monogrammed glassware is a classy option that you can let guests take home as keepsakes.

Budget-friendly bonus tip: Scour thrift stores and antique shops for cheap vintage glassware. Even if you’re renting from your vendor, having a few key pieces is a lovely touch.

Light Bites

Do you love mac and cheese, but think it’s too casual for the formal reception dinner? Serve it at cocktail hour! Think of the hors d’oeuvres as a chance to show off the fun side of your personality, but make sure to keep bites light and flavorful so guests won’t be too full. Some fun options are a tasting table for wine and snack pairings, a chips and salsa bar, or a classic bruschetta spread will never disappoint. We suggest providing at least 3-4 options to please everyone’s taste buds.

Budget-friendly bonus tip: Finger foods are great for eliminating the need for utensils and making it easy for guests to serve themselves rather than having to hire several servers.

Cocktail Napkins

If you’re serving food and drink, napkins are a necessary accompaniment. But just because they’re essential doesn’t mean they have to be boring! Customize napkins with your wedding colors, names or maybe even a wedding hashtag.

Drink Coasters

Did you know coasters could be this fun? These clever personalized coasters will definitely get guests ready for the reception and into the dancing mood.

Multiple Food & Drink Areas

Nothing spoils the fun like a long line. If you’re having a larger wedding, you may want to consider having multiple food and drink stations to avoid a bottleneck at the refreshments. Make the most of your space and keep guests happy with stations spread far enough apart.

Casual Seating

Depending on your venue, you’ll most likely be renting your seating, but make sure to arrange it in a way that encourages conversation and keeps the floor plan open. Choose seating with comfy and casual in mind, nothing too formal, that’s what the ceremony is for!

Budget-friendly bonus tip: Plan your ceremony and reception at the same venue to avoid renting two times the seating.


Although the main point of the cocktail hour is to mingle and take pictures, there’s always an opportunity for other types of entertainment. Easy games like corn hole or bocce ball are a fun choice. You can also leave out the guestbook to encourage people to start signing early.

Budget-friendly bonus tip: Extra entertainment isn’t a necessity, but getting the music started early is always a good idea. And make sure there are plenty of moments to cheers to!