How to Make the Cocktail Hour Memorable

As a wedding photographer, when I sit down with my bride & groom for our consultation & they express to me the importance of spending as little time as possible taking photos because thy want to spend as much of it as they can at the cocktail hour….  I feel like shrinking away into invisibility when I realize I will be the dreaded photographer who will put them through such misery as taking intimate & once-in-a-lifetime images of them as the new Mr & Mrs.  Then I remember; I will be the  photographer who will photograph their intimate & once-in-a-lifetime images of them as the new Mr & Mrs!  This isn’t to be dreaded!  And when did the times change to brides & grooms putting a priority on cocktail hour for themselves?  These are the precious moments spent capturing the story of just the two of them on this new adventure!

Ok ok, off my pedestal…  I do understand – as a guest – it can be hard mingling in a room full of strangers with a cash bar & bad music when dinner’s not till 7.30 & you barely scarfed down an english muffin this morning before scrambling off to Bed Bath & Beyond hoping against hope there’s still some spectacular gift left on the bride & groom’s registry that costs less than a general home renovation…  No?  Not you?  I’m the only one who’s experienced this?  Huh…  Well, I guess I’ll then direct you back to a few of my favorite ideas for that memorable cocktail hour!

1.  A well stocked bar!  But also include iced tea & colas for the youngsters & adults wanting a non-alcoholic option.

2. Create A Signature Drink – There are no limits to creativity. Match your signature drink with your wedding theme.


3. Two words….. hor d’oeuvres.  Pleas don’t torture your guests with a late dinner & a dry cocktail hour!  Pretty finger food on platters makes for happy guests.

4. Games anyone?  How about giant jenga, horse shoes, cornhole or musical chairs?  Ok, stop laughing & think of the amazing photos taken of your grandma dressed to the nines throwing a bean bag?  ‘Nuff said!

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5.  Caricature Drawings!


6. How about a musician?  How gorgeous to have a baby grand softly playing while grandma dressed to the nines throws her bean bag….

7.  Most of the time we don’t see the photo booth until the Reception.  But why not start of the fun-feathered festivities at the cocktail hour?


8. Mad Libs for your guests to fill out.  How entertaining for them AND you!


9. How about a comedian?  It’s your wedding…. Why not?!

10. How about tango, flamenco or belly dancers??

So there it is!  While some of these ideas may seem outlandish & over the top, you’d be surprised how much they can bring the mood up  set the tone for the Reception.  Give one or two a try!  But keep in mind, you’ll be off capturing those once-in-a-lifetime images with your amazing photographer….  Unless of course… you’d like to discuss a post wedding bridal session??? …  Stay tuned!