As more couples celebrate both their ceremony and reception at the same location, cocktail hours are becoming more important. While you and your brand-new spouse, as well as your wedding party and immediate family, pose for a seemingly endless number of photos, your guests will be milling around, waiting for the reception to start.

An awesome cocktail hour is the perfect way to keep your guests entertained between ceremony and reception, especially at weddings where they don’t have far to go. Your cocktail hour should reflect the feel of the other pieces of your big day but can be a little bit more casual if you’d like it to be.

For a cocktail hour your guests will love, add a little creativity to the décor, menu and drink selection.

More Casual Drinks

Forego the bartenders and opt for serve yourself beer on tap, a single (easy to make) specialty cocktail and pretty pitchers of infused water. This is a cocktail hour, so make sure there are enough drink options to keep everyone happy.

Cozy Seating

Create seating areas that blend into your venue. Cozy spaces invite your families and friends to get to know each other during cocktail hour. Patio furniture, picnic blankets and floor pillows are a great place to start.

A Statement Seating Chart

Guide guests to their seat after cocktail hour with a seating chart that doubles as décor. A statement-making sign, eye catching collection of escort cards or seating assignments that also serve as favors help set the stage for the rest of the evening.

Serve Snacks

There’s no need to stuff you guests before dinner, but it is important to offer snacks during cocktail hour. Some guests haven’t eaten much all day, you’re serving drinks and dinner may still be a few hours away. Classic hors d’oeuvres, casual snacks (think soft pretzels and fruit skewers) or family favorites that don’t fit in your dinner menu are all good options.

Play Games

Outdoor venues are the perfect place to play giant Jenga, corn hole and croquet. Inside, cards and board games pair with drinks and snacks for guests of all ages. Depending on your venue, a scavenger hunt could be a good way to get guests exploring.

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