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  • Writer's pictureEternal Bliss Events

Cocktail Hour 101

Updated: Jun 8

Cocktail hour is the portion of time between your ceremony and reception. It's the start of your celebration and it sets the tone for the evening! 

How long?

Typically as its title describes, Cocktail Hour is an hour long but can be 90 minutes for mingling and extra photos.


Depending on your venue, Cocktail Hour can take place anywhere large enough to hold your guests on the venue’s premises. Some venues have large lobbies perfect to hold your guests, extra rooms to book or (weather permitting) an outdoor space such as a balcony or patio. While other venues do not have these options, your guests can mingle in the reception space during this time.

Eternal Bliss Events couple: Cassandra & Jon ~ Photo credit: Amanda Thirkill Photography, Venue: Belcroft Estate, Florals: Astilbe Floral Boutique

Food & Drinks

Cocktail Hour should always have options for food and drinks. Discuss your menu options with your venue or caterer to have passed hors d'oeuvres, food stations, an antipasto buffet, or a mix of their options!

Eternal Bliss Events Couple: Diana & Luca's Cocktail Hour ~ Photo Credit: Mango Studios, Venue: The Arlington Estate

A fun food station with live cooking doubles as an entertainment element that will surely impress your guests, such as oyster shucking! Remember to keep your guests in mind when selecting the menu items to ensure that you pick foods that will be eaten and enjoyed by most. Always be sure to include vegetarian and/or vegan options.

There are a few options for the bar during cocktail hour. You can have a full bar open or you can opt to serve only specialty cocktails and have a non-alcoholic bar. This decision can depend on your budget- so discuss it with your partner and venue to decide what will work best.

Eternal Bliss Events couple: Erica & Michael ~ Photo credit: Silvana Marshall Photography, Venue: Ascott Parc

Entertainment / Interactive Element

Music is always advised for background entertainment for your guests. But, it’s important that your guests can still mingle during this time. You can have your DJ play subtle music throughout the venue or have live musician(s). We love to see musicians during Cocktail Hour. A single musician is a great investment and won’t be overbearing to the crowd while still adding the element of entertainment. 

Eternal Bliss Events couple: Erica & Michael ~ Photo credit: Silvana Marshall Photography, Venue: Ascott Parc, Violinist: Terrance Hrab
Eternal Bliss Events couple: Sydney & Marc ~ Photo credit: Amp Studios, Venue: The Doctor's House, Musicians: Super Sonic Hearts

Some other ideas are:

  • A personalized selfie mirror or guest book (audio, traditional, or a framed photo) for your guests to interact with

  • A live artist, check out this Caricature Artist that drew our couple, Diana and Luca!

  • Audio guest book  

  • Lawn games

  • Tap Truck

Eternal Bliss Events couple: Krista & Alex ~ Photo Credit: Frame of Mind Photography, Venue: Royal Venetian Mansion, Stationary: Costa Printing
Eternal Bliss Events couple Diana & Luca ~ Photo Credit: Mango Studios, Venue: The Arlington Estate, Caricature Artist:Caricature Creators
Eternal Bliss Events couple: Gabrielle & Keith ~ Photo credit: Amp Studios, Cocktail Truck: Cottage Springs, Florals: Rose and Shine, Venue: Stevenson Estate

Eternal Bliss Events Couple Christina & Tristan ~ Venue: Royal Ambassador, Florals: Riverside Flower Shop


A few elements that will add to the room’s appearance during cocktail hour are the following:

  • A Welcome Sign: Can be printed or digital! A new trend is having an animated photo of the wedding couple in their wedding day outfits like our couple Danielle & Jose

  • Seating Chart: This can also be printed or digital! This can be something simple or elaborate. a simple one can be found in our portfolio. You can use photos of more elaborate ones from Pinterest - here is some inspo: ideas

  • A Welcome table: This table is for your card box, your guestbook, a few photos and favours if you have them! Fill in the space with candles or repurposed flowers. Flowers from the ceremony or bridesmaids' bouquets work well for this!

  • A Memory table: To incorporate all of those who have passed away but are remembered and honoured with photos. Use candles and repurposed flowers around the photos

  • Cocktail Tables: Add a candle or bud vase to dress the table. Keep it small to ensure plenty of space for guests to place down food and drinks

Eternal Bliss Events Couple: Sydney & Marc ~ Photo credit: Amp Studios, Venue: The Doctor's House

Eternal Bliss Events couple: Diana & Luca ~ Photo credit: Mango Studios, Venue: The Arlington Estate

Eternal Bliss Events couple: Krista & Alex ~ Photo Credit: Frame of Mind, Venue: Royal Venetian Mansion, Seating Chart: Costa Printing

Get into party mode with a great cocktail hour. Inquire with us today to have us help you plan it!

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