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How To Keep Cocktail Hour Interesting

By Rebecca Padgett


Many couples have the same concern: how to keep guests entertained during cocktail hour. Cocktail hour may be chosen for a variety of reasons — photos are being taken of the bridal party, travel time between the ceremony and the reception or there’s an extended time of visitation. Regardless of the reason, there are many ways to keep your guests occupied, fed, libated and happy.

Lawn Games

Games are a wonderful way to pass the time, compete and make new friends. Borrow, buy or make your own cornhole, jenga, croquet, checkers, ladder golf and more. Another interactive game is bingo, which could be narrated by the DJ or a friend.


Live Music

What better way to get the party started than getting the guests out on the dance floor. A DJ, band or soloist can set the tunes and the tone for the night. This is a great way to showcase musical talents and wow your guests.


Signature Cocktails

Cocktail hour is the ideal time to emphasize specialty cocktails selected and crafted by the couple. Encourage guests to try your concoction via a sign that advertises what it’s made of and what makes the drink unique.

Photo by Alena Bakutis Photography

Passed Bites

Stave off hunger and enjoy scrumptious bites with passed appetizers. Passed appetizers are ideal because they encourage guests to mingle rather than head straight to their tables with a plate. Also, passed appetizers are a fun way to experiment with foods that may not have made it onto the dinner menu. Think bruschetta, spring rolls, skewers, meatballs, finger sandwiches, sliders, salad shooters, marinated shrimp and more.


Photo Booth/Photo Backdrops

People love taking photos — especially where memorable moments, cute backdrops and props are concerned. There are a variety of options, including renting a photo booth, creating colorful and fun backdrops or having Polaroid cameras for guests to use. Many of these options provide instant takeaway mementos.



If your reception is outdoors or has an outdoor area available, you might be able to have a bonfire (check with your venue first, obviously). This would especially be nice on a fall or winter evening. Have smores supplies readily available.


This can be as elaborate or as simple as you make it. Guests can either craft an item for themselves or for the couple. Either option keeps the mind and hands busy while also providing a favor.


Wine or Beer Tasting

This is a wonderful way to highlight local flavors, especially if there is a winery or brewery nearby. Or you can select your favorites as a couple for guests to sample. To make the experience all the more unique, the libations can be paired with small bites.


Food Trucks

Food trucks have become a popular way to serve guests a variety of options. Beginning with cocktail hour, have the food trucks present so guests can make their way to each and get their fill before the festivities begin.

Caricature Artist

Guests can pose for a portrait and have a frameable way to forever remember your wedding.



Make an already magical evening all the more magical. A magician can either put on a show for all or travel table to table showing off the tricks up their sleeve.


Lounge seating

Lounge areas are a beautiful way for guests to get cozy with one another. Comfy couches, throw pillows and cushions make for fun seating arrangements that are more appealing than limiting tables and straight-back chairs.

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