Cocktail hour. I think it might be our favourite part of a wedding!

You get to catch up with old friends, coo over the newlyweds, and indulge in a few tipples and some fabulous food.

But it's also a really nice time to set your day apart, spark the vibe for the rest of the day, and really wow your guests with thoughtful or personal touches.

Cocktail Hour Inspiration | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Photo by Jose Villa Photography

So to give you some expert tips on how to do just that, we've recruited the help of Emma Riddell of Goose & Berrya luxury wedding & event planners and caterers based in Buckinghamshire and London.

It's safe to say, she knows a thing or two about throwing a very special event, so, take it away Emma…

10 Ways to Wow your Guests at Cocktail Hour  | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Photo by Anneli Marinovich Photography via Bridal Musings

How to Wow Your Guests at Cocktail Hour

I think it’s fair to say I’m a bit of a foodie and I adore weddings, which considering my job, I have to say I am one seriously lucky lady. I get to combine both on a daily basis and talk about both all day long!

One of my favourite parts of the day is cocktail hour or the reception before the wedding meal.



Photo by Paige Winn Photo via Bridal Musings

Guests are given a chance to socialise after the ceremony and before the meal is served. This is an ideal time for music and games, but the best part is the food and drink served in this time!

It’s a chance for couples to show off and showcase their favourite foods. Cocktails and canapés are often a winner but there is so much more you can do! Here are my 10 ways to wow!

Wow Your Guests at Cocktail Hour | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 5

Photo by Ken Kienow via Style Me Pretty

1. Make It Interactive

Give your guests something to do and get them involved! Organise to have a tasting table where guests can try pairings of wine or local beers and samples of cheese or have a sommelier on hand to offer a few wines to try and give them some information.

If you have more than one red and one white for your meal, you might like to have the wines that you will be serving so guests can ‘try before they buy’.

2. Local Delicacies

Is the area that you are getting married in famous for a particular type of food?

If so, maybe offer this to your guests. It’s a nice touch and shows you have given your food some thought.


Photo by Ricky Stern Photography via Bridal Musings

3. DIY Food Stations

If you’re having a sit down meal but like the idea of a more informal buffet style, why not offer canapés or mini bites in the form of food stations dotted around your reception space.

Relaxed sofas and chairs in addition with coffee tables provide the perfect accompaniment to the relaxed eating and offers a nice contrast to a more formal wedding breakfast.

4. Speciality Bars

Similar to food stations, why not have a couple of drinks stations too!

Make one a cocktail bar, another a bubble bar (maybe even make it a DIY one, where guests can add their own puree and fruit) and another a mini beer tent.

Ways to Wow Your Guests with Cocktail Hour | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 1

Photo by The Melideos via Wedding Party

5. DIY Bars

I’m telling you, guest interaction is huge right now and it is so popular. Create an area where guests can make their own cocktail or pour their own drinks.

Add in a children’s version with soft drinks in big glass dispensers. They will love it!

6. Make It Seasonal

Not only will the food be more readily available, it also tastes better when in season!

If you’re having an Autumn wedding, why not have a mini bangers and mash or a butternut squash soup shooter.

How To Wow at Cocktail Hour | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Photo by Brittany Lauren Photography via Bridal Musings

7. Signature Cocktails

Do you have a favourite cocktail that you both adore? If so, use that for your reception drink and have that handed around.

You could always name it after you or something that you love. Why stop at one, maybe add an additional two or three cocktails and create a bespoke cocktail menu for your guests to choose from.

8. Edible Everything

Forget faffy spoons and forks, use edible cones and spoons for canapés.

You won’t have various items left places and it makes clearing up so much easier!


Photo by Jose Villa Photography via Style Me Pretty

9. Sweet Canapés and Cleansers

Not everything before dinner has to be savoury! Why not serve some fruit or sweet treats such a popcorn trolley or sweet cart.

You could even consider serving a sorbet or frozen yogurt to cleanse the palette just before the meal.

10. Presentation

You may have a theme and want the food stations to match the décor. Great! Have you considered how your canapés and drinks may be served?

If not, add in some flowers or serve them on unusual items, such as mirrors, clocks or in lanterns or birdcages.

Hopefully these little tips will help wow your guests and set the scene for the rest of the day.

Wow Your Guests With Cocktail Hour | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog | 2

Photo by Jen Huang via Style Me Pretty

What cool ideas! Thanks so much to Emma for sharing such great tips. Have you any good ideas for a unique cocktail hour? We'd love to hear them in the comments below. 

To see more of Emma's inspired work (and stunning weddings) visit the Goose & Berry website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and say hello!

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