cocktail hour

Wedding Day Breakdown: Cocktail Hour

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Welcome to the fifth installment of the Wedding Day Breakdown series, where we’ll be giving in-depth descriptions, analyses, and advice regarding different portions of a wedding day. Today, we’re talking about the cocktail hour.

You can view the other installments as they come available here:

Getting Ready | First Looks | Ceremony | Portraits | Cocktail Hour | Reception | Timeline Planning | What Needs to Be Photographed | Breaking all the Rules

Wedding Day Breakdown: Cocktail Hour

WHAT IT REFERS TO:

“Cocktail hour” is one of the more well-known portions of a wedding day. This casual hour usually lands between the end of the ceremony and the start of dinner. It can be as short as 45 minutes, or as long as 90 minutes. Cocktail hour is one of the few times during the day when guests are often roaming and consistently speaking with each other. It’s a social hour, where all bets are off and people are just there for a good time.

The main decisions a couple makes regarding their cocktail hour is the length and whether or not they’ll be attending. It’s common for couples to use this time to take portraits with family/wedding/party/themselves, especially if they aren’t seeing each other before the ceremony.

HOW IT WORKS WITH ME:

I find that cocktail hour is often the favorite portion of the day, so it’s our goal that you get to attend as much of it as you please. There are steps we can take to make sure you can attend. You can do a first look/see each other before the ceremony. We can step out for sunset photos only. We’ll make sure your family photo list is tiny and won’t take more than a few minutes.

Our biggest goal is that you spend exactly how much time you’re hoping at your cocktail hour, and that should you decide to attend, you’ll receive those incredible candid images of the party.

A FEW QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

1. Ask yourself the critical question: do I want to be present for this time?

Wanting to be present for this hour helps to determine your timeline. Making this decisions means we can craft a schedule that accomplishes all of the things you want to do, and nothing that you don’t.

2. How long of a cocktail hour should we do?

If you find that you have to step out for at least a little while during cocktail hour, having a longer duration means you’ll have more time to hop back in and see all your people. If you know you’ll be in attendance for the whole thing, you’ll have freedom to make it shorter.

3. Are there special activities/beverages/personal things I want to be present for?

Often times couples choose signature drinks, have items on display about their relationship, or have other personal attributes during this time. If you’re wanting to see your guests’ reactions to these, take that into account when choosing whether to attend your cocktail hour. You may never know how they felt about these things if you weren’t there to witness it or talk with them.

There you have it! Are there any other tips you’d add? Share your experience below!

M

Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN. 

I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.

This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.

Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.

M

The Autumn Dog Studio

Makayla of

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