Why does cocktail hour exist? Why have you decided to kickoff your event or wedding reception with cocktail hour? Most of the time, this is the perfect opportunity for the newlyweds to snap a few photos together along with their bridal party, right? But whether your cocktail hour is a part of your wedding day or whether it’s the kickoff to a gala, fundraiser or other event, it still exists as the first impression of the rest of your occasion, and we all know how important a first impression can be! To help you set the best tone for your event, we’ve rounded up a few details you may want to give some extra thought to.

Bar & Cocktail Tables

Obviously, this is a real must-have for your cocktail hour, otherwise it would be called “mingle hour.” But we wanted to start from square one and share basic tips to help get the ball rolling!

Three things to take into consideration when it comes to the bar are location, size and efficiency.  Try to place your bar in a convenient location, so your guests can easily locate it, ensure it is large enough, so there isn’t any bottlenecking or overcrowding at the bar and ask your venue about the appropriate number of bartenders to efficiently serve your guests. As a rule of thumb, estimate having one bartender for roughly every 50 guests.

A few things you might need to think about for your cocktail tables are linens, floral or centerpieces, bar stools and proximity. Are your linens for cocktail hour going to match linens on the guest tables, specialty tables or be unique to your cocktail hour? How small, if at all, do you want to go with centerpieces or décor for your tables? How about bar stools for the tables? Or do you want to encourage your guests to roam and experience your venue? If you want to help direct traffic away from the bar, place the cocktail tables on the other side of the room, or spread them out to make it convenient for guests to walk around and visit with more guests.

Convenient Location & Change of Scenery

Whether your cocktail hour is the kickoff to your event, is proceeding a church ceremony in another location or is taking place in the same location as both your ceremony and reception, a change of scenery in a convenient location to your reception (and the bathrooms) is prime real estate! After sitting and traveling or sitting at your ceremony, your guests are more than likely, ready for a change of pace and ready to relax. Especially if your event is all in one building, showing off the various features of your venue can help spice up your event and create an eclectic ambiance for your guests to enjoy. However, you don’t want your event to turn into a maze or make it easy for your guests to get lost. The most convenient location for cocktail hour is right next door to the reception room.

Lounge Area

Cocktail hour is a time for your guests to loosen up, unwind and kickoff the rest of the night on a delightful note. If your venue has a lounge area, or a space where you can set up you own lounge furniture, this might be the perfect place to add a cocktail table or two and invite guests to really sit back and relax before the rest of the festivities begin. Creating this enjoyable mood from the very beginning can set the tone for the remainder of your event. Depending on the location, this space might also be utilized happily during the rest of the night for guests to get some relief from the music or party.

Looking for more ways to create the perfect ambiance for your cocktail hour? Talk with us or set up a tour of our unique space at!


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As Seen on the Knot

As Seen on The Knot