13 Pro Tips for Creating The Ultimate Cocktail Hour For Your Lowcountry Wedding Reception
Design an unforgettable prelude to your reception festivities with these effortless tips for a memorable cocktail hour.
Now, can someone point us to the bar?
BEVERAGES - A well-crafted bar menu should be high on your cocktail hour priority list.
HIS AND HERS SPECIALTY COCKTAILS
Custom drinks are an easy way to infuse your personalities (and drink preferences) into the evening’s celebration. Consider drawing inspiration from your hometown, a nostalgic college favorite, or your go-to 5 o’clock drink-of-choice.
2. NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
Thoughtfully include all of your guests by offering up non-alcoholic drinks, like tea or an infused-water option.
3. BAR RENTALS
Skip your basic, linen-draped bar set-up in favor of a rental piece that ties in nicely with your overall decor.
4. THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Top it off with a chandelier overhead, custom drink menus and personalized cocktail napkins for the perfect finishing touch.
5. CUSTOM KOOZIES (OR CUPS)
Koozies have become a fun, expected element of cocktail hour, and while they certainly serve the purpose of keeping your hands warm as you sip a cold brew, our favorite part is seeing the creativity that the bride & groom dial-up for this tried-and-true wedding favor. We love how Stephanie & Tom incorporated Charleston legend Bill Murray in their “Just Murried” koozie design for their Boone Hall Plantation wedding.
6. DRINK & SNACK STATIONS
Self-serve snack bars and drink stations are a great way to dive into the party. “Starting off cocktail hour with these fun options,” says Tanya Gurrieri of Salthouse Catering, “lets guests know they’re in for more tasty treats as the night unfolds.” Knock their socks off with an eye-catching drink display showcasing a crowd favorite (we vote bubbles or this fabulous frose machine) and allowing guests to quickly get their hands on a cold beverage.
7. CUSTOM BAR SIGNAGE
Custom signage adds an extra dose of personalization and clues your guests in on the significance of your beverage choices. Jess & Cory named their cocktails after their adorable Labradoodles— “The Doodle” and “The Sullivan”—and included framed watercolor illustrations by Sweet Magnolia Paper to describe each concoction.
Ease into the evening with mellow tunes (think trio, acoustic guitar or bluegrass band) so guests can easily catch up with friends & family they haven’t recently seen while soaking in the fabulous setting.
9. COCKTAIL TABLES & SEATING
Make sure cocktail tables (with and without bar stools) are available throughout the space to give guests a place to rest their drinks while mingling. PRO-TIP: While you’re at it, add in some unique seating options - like a swing!
10. SEPARATE, OUTDOOR SPACE
Take advantage of all your venue has to offer by utilizing a separate space for pre-reception drinks—think outside by the water, on the front lawn, or back patio—to add an additional layer to the evening’s overall ambiance.
11. LAWN GAMES
Games, games and more games! Providing activities for your guests, like cornhole, croquet or even fishing (just like Sydney & Ed on pg. 48) will have your guests up, socializing and reveling in each others’ company in no time.
12. PASSED HORS D’OEUVRES
Kickstart your food game with tasty appetizers. “Passed hors d’oeuvres are an elegant way to treat guests to small bites,” says Tanya Gurrieri of Salthouse Catering. “We strive for petite canapés that are easy to eat and pack a punch of color and flavor, like our Tomato Pie Tartlets. Pro-tip: Enhance your passed hors' d’oeuvres by adding a beautiful spread of pickled veggies, meats, spreads and fruits for guests to graze on as the enjoy a drink.
13. LOUNGE FURNITURE
“Get cozy,” says Samantha Scandole of Sweetgrass Social Event & Design. “Bring the inside out! Guests love touches of home at a wedding, so why not bring your favorite style furniture to your cocktail hour for guests to get comfortable by sipping cocktails and mingling.”