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6 Fun Ways to Keep Wedding Guests Entertained During Cocktail Hour

6 Fun Ways to Keep Wedding Guests Entertained During Cocktail Hour

Most well-planned weddings end up being beautiful celebrations full of love and laughter. However, some things tend to slip through the planning cracks, and ensuring that you keep your guests entertained during the cocktail hour is one of them. 

This period is far from being just a filler between the ceremony and reception. Think of it as the opening act to your main event. It sets the tone for the rest of your special day, serving as a mood elevator and an opportunity for guests to interact and enjoy themselves before moving on to the grand feast.

Therefore, setting high standards for fun at this crucial interim shouldn’t be overlooked in wedding planning. A successful cocktail hour can instigate lively conversations among guests, create a relaxing lubricant between formalities, and promote an enhanced overall ambiance that builds anticipation for what’s next. 

So, how does one curate such an engaging atmosphere if we think about it in this light? Let’s dive into some inventive ways to keep your guests entertained throughout your big day!

What Exactly is a Cocktail Hour, and Should You Have One?

Most venues will offer a cocktail hour (included in the package or as an extra), but it can be unclear unless you have an experienced planner to explain what it means. So, without further ado, let’s see what it is and whether you should consider having one.

Traditionally, the so-called “cocktail hour” is the interlude between your romantic “I dos” and the lively dance party with dinner. It’s typically an hour (hence the name), but some weddings may extend it based on their schedule. During this time, guests mingle with one another over drinks and appetizers while music plays subtly in the background.

It sounds regular enough, so what’s the purpose of this fancy hour? 

To keep guests entertained before the start of the main event – the wedding reception! The cocktail hour is generally designed as a buffer, allowing sufficient time for any post-ceremony photos or venue arrangements to be sorted out behind the scenes.

Do I have to add a cocktail hour to my wedding party?

The short answer is no; cocktail hour is not a must-have. Your wedding should follow your wishes and preferences as a couple. 

However, most wedding planners and venues will strongly recommend a cocktail hour. That’s because a well-curated cocktail hour can be quite the mood booster for your guests. 

That small window (an hour passes fast at a wedding) creates room for relaxation after sitting through ceremony formalities. It also puts everyone in party mode before entering the grand ballroom for dinner.

And, if done right, it provides opportunities to make each guest feel extra special and included in your big day celebrations. So, a cocktail hour is a good idea if you want to make sure everyone will have tons of fun. 

people drinking at wedding

Fun Activities to Keep Guests Entertained 

A poorly handled cocktail hour can leave your guests feeling bored and ignored. Since we know you don’t want such a thing for your precious people, here are a few ideas to keep the positive vibes going and get the conversation flowing.

Interactive Food and Drink Stations

Interactive food and drink stations hold a unique charm in amplifying the fun quotient during cocktail hours. With these, you can tickle your guests’ taste buds and keep them engaged and intrigued.

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Suppose you want to make a good impression; a DIY cocktail bar is great! Have your guests mix their drinks at the self-serve counters. It would be even better if you could arrange for an expert mixologist to guide them through the endeavour. This will be an experience far more memorable than simply sipping on beverages.

After witnessing you two get married in front of the law, your guests will probably be hungry. You can use this by setting up a sushi preparation counter by professional chefs. Watching professional chefs artfully arrange sushi rolls can be surprisingly fascinating, not to mention how delighted guests would taste those fresh, delicious bites!

Another great idea is a ‘Build Your Own Taco’ station where attendees can assemble their perfect taco from various ingredients. It’s all about hands-on fun plus customized deliciousness! Just provide plenty of napkins and plates so no one ruins their outfit.

wedding meals

Photobooth Fun

Photobooths are a standard wedding attraction and a great way to capture unforgettable moments. Photobooths can be an entertaining focal point during your cocktail hour (two birds with one stone, as they say).

One surefire strategy is to position the photo booth next to your Guest Book. This way, every person stepping into the booth will remember to leave behind a heartfelt message (or perhaps even a fun anecdote from their photo-taking session). 

This simple but ingenious setup will provide you with an outpouring of love notes alongside quirky snapshots of your loved ones on your special day. This way, when you want to assemble your wedding album, you only need a free background changer and patience to sort through thousands of photos.

Bonus tip: Magic Mirror photo booths are pretty trendy at weddings nowadays. These exotic-looking mirrors not only click pictures but interact with guests. They’ve taken the photobooth game up by several notches!


Live Entertainment

While it’s true that hiring a live performer for cocktail hour can amp up your budget, it is worth it (if you can afford it, of course). That’s because the simple presence of an excellent live performer resonates differently with guests. This setting creates an intimate, personalized vibe that recorded content can’t compete with.

Firstly, let’s talk about music. You might traditionally think of pianists or string quartets when considering wedding music – yet we urge you to explore outside this box. For instance, how about a jazz blues band to create a classy rhythm while guests sip their cocktails? 

Of course, you could also consider a lively salsa band to initiate some festive toe-tapping.

On the other hand, if you want something more exotic, why not hire a magician? And yes, magicians aren’t only for kids’ birthday parties – they can also astonish any adult crowd. Having an illusionist walking around performing close-up magic tricks or card illusions keeps everyone fascinated and engaged in laughter-filled conversations.

Lounge Areas with Games

Imagine this scene – preppy music in the background while people mingle, laugh, and compete over games. All while sipping their favourite cocktail and enjoying a comfortable lounge area. This could be the image at your wedding, during cocktail hour.

Moreover, you don’t have to think too hard about the type of games or overall atmosphere. It would help if you had a few game ideas to uplift the wedding reception’s mood. Giant Jenga is a great example as it increases interaction and heaps on anticipation and good-natured competition.

If your friends are more into trivia, you could create custom quizzes about you as a couple and see who is your actual best friend. This personalized entertainment requires only printed question sheets. Plus, it doubles up as an excellent icebreaker! You can also create QR codes and link them to an online questionnaire.

Board games like Chess or Checkers can appeal to certain guests, while card games like UNO never go out of style and accommodate larger player groups. Even a ‘Remember When’ deck designed around recalling shared memories can evoke hearty laughs!

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Artistically-Inclined Activities 

Encouraging the artistic sides of your guests during cocktail hour adds charm and elegance to your celebrations. 

One of the burgeoning trends right now is to hire an artist for live painting sessions. Imagine having a painter capture beautiful moments from your ceremony or even the ongoing cocktail hour on canvas! Not only does this offer captivating entertainment, but you’re left with a unique keepsake that immortalizes memories from your special day.

On the other hand, if you want something less severe and fancy, caricature-drawing stations are just as popular. Guests love watching artists sketch humorous, exaggerated portraits – and they contribute massively to maintaining a lively ambiance. 

Lastly, if you don’t want to hire an artist just for the cocktail hour, why not let your guests discover their artistic side? Install several DIY art stations where guests can create their mini masterpieces. 

Dance Floor Madness

Who said getting those fancy moves out should only be reserved for post-dinner hours?

Starting a mini dance party during your cocktail hour is a fantastic icebreaker and an undeniable source of fun. Imagine guests shimmying to their favourite tunes while enjoying their drinks – it sets the stage for merriment like nothing else!

You could consider hiring a professional dancer or instructor who can lead everyone into a few simple celebratory dance routines to take it up a notch. This also ensures that those typically hesitant to dance might find themselves grooving along!

Lastly, if you’re hosting a culturally themed wedding, incorporating traditional dances into your cocktail hour helps share your heritage in the most engaging way possible.

wedding guest attire

Have Fun!

To wrap things up, remember that your cocktail hour is a golden opportunity to kickstart some serious fun. 

Whether it’s interactive food and drink stations, photo booths, live entertainment, game-filled lounge areas, artsy activities, or an early dance floor – each option carries the potential to wow your guests! 

Be creative and curate experiences that will provoke laughter, conversation, and camaraderie among attendees. This way, your wedding becomes a celebration of love and an unforgettable party engraved in everyone’s hearts. 

So here’s to designing a joyous journey filled with memorable moments right from the get-go – cheers!

Summary: Keep Wedding Guests Entertained

  • Cocktail Hour Basics:
    • Serves as an interlude between the ceremony and reception.
    • Allows guests to mingle and enjoy refreshments.
    • Acts as a buffer for post-ceremony arrangements.
  • The Purpose of a Cocktail Hour:
    • Elevates the mood before the main wedding reception.
    • Provides relaxation after ceremony formalities.
    • Sets everyone in party mode before dinner.
  • Entertainment Ideas:
    • Interactive Food and Drink Stations:
      • DIY cocktail bars.
      • Professional sushi preparation counters.
      • ‘Build Your Own Taco’ stations.
    • Photobooth Fun:
      • Capture memorable moments.
      • Position next to Guest Book for added engagement.
      • Trend: Magic Mirror photo booths.
    • Live Entertainment:
      • Jazz blues bands, salsa bands, pianists, etc.
      • Magicians for close-up tricks and illusions.
    • Lounge Areas with Games:
      • Giant Jenga, trivia quizzes, board games, and more.
    • Artistically-Inclined Activities:
      • Live painting sessions.
      • Caricature-drawing stations.
      • DIY art stations for guest creativity.
    • Dance Floor Madness:
      • Initiate a mini dance party.
      • Hire professional dancers or instructors.
      • Incorporate traditional dances for cultural weddings.

FAQs: Fun Ideas To Do During Cocktail Hour

What exactly is a cocktail hour?

A cocktail hour is traditionally an interlude between the wedding ceremony and the reception. It’s a time for guests to mingle, enjoy drinks and appetizers, and typically lasts for about an hour (though it can be longer). It serves as a buffer period for any post-ceremony arrangements and activities.

Is a cocktail hour mandatory in a wedding schedule?

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No, having a cocktail hour is not mandatory. However, most wedding planners and venues recommend one as it provides a relaxed atmosphere for guests after the ceremony and sets the mood for the rest of the celebrations.

How can I ensure that the activities are inclusive for all age groups?

The key is variety. Ensure there are activities that cater to different age groups and interests. For instance, while younger guests might enjoy the photobooth or dance floor, older guests might appreciate the live music or lounge areas with board games. Offering a range of options ensures everyone finds something they enjoy.

How do I manage the cost while planning these activities?

It’s essential to prioritize based on your budget and guest preferences. Interactive food and drink stations might be costlier due to logistics and ingredients, while simpler setups like board games or a DIY art station might be more budget-friendly. It’s always good to mix and match high-cost and low-cost activities to ensure entertainment without breaking the bank.

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