Photo: Sheff Production Photography & Video
1. Add frozen fruit to your cocktails. “There are a million amazing drinks to highlight in the warmer months. but what do they all have in common? They're ice cold! How to keep things frosty while enjoying the heat? Consider incorporating frozen fruit into your wedding cocktail. By filling your beverage with frozen fruit, you not only keep your drink cold (without watering it down), but it adds color and flavor, too. This could work for everything from berries to fruit slices and is suitable for a wide variety of cocktails." —Alexandra Denniston, Owner & Lead Planner, Eventlightenment Planning
2. Offer non-cocktail or mocktail options for guests. "Iced coffee and iced tea bars are a great break from cocktails or mocktails to offer up something different but just as cool and refreshing." —Ariel Becker, Executive Planner, Becker and The Co.
3. Everyone loves a grazing table. "Pair cocktails with delectable bites on a grazing table. Think cheese, charcuterie, fruits, and nuts." —Anastasia Shevchenko, Sheff Production Photography & Videography
4. Have a water station. "A water station to give your guests easy access to a cool beverage is a great way to keep your guests hydrated and happy." —Jamie & Stephanie, Cape Cod Celebrations
5. Embrace the beachy vibes. "If you're by the beach, incorporate coastal elements into your cocktails. Sea-inspired names and seashell decor work wonders." —Anastasia Shevchenko, Sheff Production Photography & Videography
6. Have a flower station. "Have a flower station for guests to create their own floral crown — the perfect accessory that guests of all ages will love creating and wearing. The best part? They can wear their new accessory to the reception to dance the night away." —Jessica Rodriguez Hanselman, Crossed Keys Estate
7. Set up tabletop games and lawn games. "Cocktail hour is a great time to let guests have fun! Table top games are a perfect addition and if cocktail hour is outdoors and space allow, a few simple lawn games are a sure way to insert fun and friendly competition with a drink in hand." —Angela Carter, CMP, Carter Group Creative
8. Have a live painter. "After sitting at the ceremony, cocktail hour is the real first impression of the wedding. It is the time for your guests to drink, mingle, and take in all the sensory details of your wedding. That is why it is important to engage them in an activity that makes them feel seen and known; something that they will carry with them. I think watercolor wedding guest portraits are the perfect way to make your guests feel welcome! Walking up to a clean and inviting table, your guests are greeted by a friendly professional artist ready to paint a custom portrait of them within minutes, all while they are sipping on cocktails and mingling with friends. These portraits are not just something you throw away at the end of the event, but an elegant gift they can take home to frame and have as a memory for years to come." —Jennie Tucker, Jennie Lou Art
9. Provide baskets of essentials. "Set out items like sandals, water bottles, fans, and sunglasses so that your guests can stay comfortable all evening long." —Ariel Becker, Executive Planner, Becker and The Co.
10. Serve up spiked popsicles and slushies. "Lately, we have been loving our clients' unique twists on cocktail hour with specialty boozy popsicles and spiked slushes. These treats are a memorable and nostalgic addition to cocktail hour that will help ensure guests stay cool and still enjoy cocktail hour." —Ari Busch, Operations Manager & Lead Planner, Bridal Bliss
11. Create a raw bar. “A warm wedding definitely needs a nice, cold raw bar, especially if your wedding is in an area close to the ocean and the shellfish is nice and fresh!" —Jamie & Stephanie, Cape Cod Celebrations
12. Create a gin garden. “Set up a gin-centric station with various botanicals and garnishes for a fragrant experience.” —Anastasia Shevchenko, Sheff Production Photography & Videography
13. Have a cocktail and/or champagne display. "Cocktail and champagne wall displays can be a great way to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to any wedding reception. They are also a fun way for guests to sample different drinks. If you have a specific theme for your wedding, use the cocktail wall display to incorporate it into your décor. It's also a convenient way for guests to get their drinks. Instead of having to wait in line at the bar, guests can simply walk up to the cocktail wall and grab a drink. This helps keep the flow of traffic moving smoothly at your cocktail hour or reception. A well-designed cocktail wall display can be a beautiful focal point in your reception space and a perfect way to add some height and drama. Design the wall with flowers, candles, or custom place cards for guests to find their table when they pick up their drink. Cocktail hour is always a hit, but a unique display adds the wow." —Heather Durham, Heather Durham Photography
Photo: Heather Durham Photography
14. Try adding florals into your cocktail hour. "Edible flowers and floral-infused syrups create elegant and aromatic cocktails." —Anastasia Shevchenko, Sheff Production Photography & Videography
15. Infuse your drinks with seasonal herbs and flavors. "Elevate your libations with fresh herb infusions, infusing spirits with the aromatic symphony of basil, mint, and rosemary. Don't forget to extend the same charm to non-drinkers with equally captivating mocktail choices, a gesture that will undoubtedly be cherished by all, creating an experience your guests will forever hold dear." —April Raymond, April & Mike
16. Serve up sensational sangrias. "Create a DIY sangria bar with a variety of fresh fruits, wines, and mixers. Guests can customize their own delicious blends." —Anastasia Shevchenko, Sheff Production Photography & Videography
17. Focus on the nitty gritty details. “The wedding industry is notorious for screaming 'details!' from the mountaintops, but I'm here to tell you that the most impactful cocktail hours are the ones that dive into the nitty gritty. Monogrammed drink toppers and ice cubes ensure that every sip your guests take transports them back to why they checked that little box that said, "Yes" — celebrating you! Cohesive signage and menu design that mirrors the invite suites creates a great full-circle moment. Utilizing the same font, color, and pattern choices throughout the event will remind guests of when they first held and opened your invitation. Chic stationary displays alongside tray-passed apps sends a message that your wedding is an indulgence, and you're here to deliver on that promise. Filling guests' bellies from the get go (and their eyes with beautiful plating and staging) is always memorable. Soft seating lounges encourage guests to take in the view while complementing the aesthetic and colors you've chosen to feature again and again throughout. I love lounges that are a little removed from the dance floor, as they can provide a great respite for folks wanting a few quiet moments." —Ashley Lachney, Owner, Alston Mayger Events
18. Prioritize mocktail mixology. "Embrace the art of mocktail mixology. Craft non-alcoholic drinks with layers of flavors and visual appeal. Enjoy a vibrant and unforgettable cocktail hour that perfectly complements your wedding's vibes. Your guests will toast to your creativity and thoughtful choices. " —Anastasia Shevchenko, Sheff Production Photography & Videography
19. Encourage the staff to get into the spirit. “Embrace the warmth of the season! Have servers wear seasonal outfits as they tray-pass drinks." —Ariel Becker, Executive Planner, Becker and The Co.
20. Highlight tropical flavors. "Transport your guests with tropical-themed drinks. Pineapple, coconut, and passion fruit flavors are perfect for the season." —Anastasia Shevchenko, Sheff Production Photography & Videography