The Truth About Cocktail Hour

Who doesn’t love a good cocktail? We sure do! And those hors d’oeuvres (yes, I had to Google how to spell it) are always to die for! It’s an essential part of the wedding day. I don’t think we’ve ever been to or photographed a wedding that didn’t have a cocktail hour. It’s just one of those things that always happens at weddings, but do you know the real reason they exist? Cocktail hour exists solely to entertain your guests while the bride and groom get their photos taken.

Tim & Jules Wedding at John James Audubon Center Cocktail Hour

The Reason Why

Yes, that’s right. Originally, the bride and groom didn’t attend cocktail hour. When it was more traditional to see each other for the first time during the ceremony, the only opportunity for photos was in between the ceremony and reception. This meant that the wedding guests were forced to wait for an hour before the reception began. Thus the idea of serving cocktails and hors d’oeuvres was created to occupy the guests! What a perfect idea! Today, more and more bride and grooms want to attend their cocktail hour, which is great and they get to socialize more with their guests and it gives them time to relax before the craziness of the reception begins. But here is the bad news…

Example Timelines

There is simply not enough time between ceremony and reception to capture all of the photos the newlyweds want and have them attend cocktail hour. Let me walk you through what a typical timeline looks like during this hour gap for a couple who isn’t participating in a First Look (seeing each other before the ceremony).

5:00 pm – Ceremony Begins
5:30 pm – Ceremony Ends & Cocktail Hour Begins
5:35 pm – Family Formals Begin
5:50 pm – Family Formals End
5:55 pm – Bridal Party Photos Begin
6:10 pm – Bridal Party Photos End
6:10 pm – Bride & Groom Portraits Begin
6:20 pm – Bride & Groom Portraits End
6:25 pm – Bride Gets Her Dress Bustled
6:30 pm – Cocktail Hour Ends & Reception Begins

As you can see, the bride and groom portraits get the least amount of time. 10 minutes doesn’t allow for the bride and groom to get into a rhythm of shooting. We try our hardest to capture the most variety, but we’ll be very limited by our surroundings since traveling too far from the reception site will limit our time even more. Even if we did get the couple to cocktail hour, they would only have a few minutes to grab a drink and say hello to a few people. For that reason, we highly suggest sharing in a first look if you want to attend cocktail hour. To show you the difference, let’s walk you through what a typical timeline looks like during cocktail hour for a couple who shares in a First Look.

5:00 pm – Ceremony Begins
5:30 pm – Ceremony Ends & Cocktails Begins
5:35 pm – Family Formals Begin
5:50 pm – Family Formals End
5:55 pm – Just Married Portraits Begin
6:05 pm – Just Married Portraits End // Bride & Groom Go to Cocktail Hour
6:25 pm – Bride Gets Her Dress Bustled

In Conclusion

Because the couple participated in a First Look, we were able to grab a ton of portraits in the beginning of the day before the ceremony began, along with all of the bridal party photos, therefore allowing you to attend half of cocktail hour! You can read about even more benefits of a First Look here, but we’re finding that the desire to attend cocktail hour is a pretty good reason to share in a First Look! In conclusion, if you don’t want to share in a First Look, then we highly suggest providing a 30 minute gap between ceremony and cocktail hour or even extending your cocktail hour for an additional 30 minutes to allow you to attend. We promise that this will eliminate so much stress and will let you have the most fun on your wedding day!

Tim & Jules Wedding at John James Audubon Center Cocktail Hour Tim & Jules Wedding at John James Audubon Center Cocktail Hour Tim & Jules Wedding at John James Audubon Center Cocktail Hour Tim & Jules Wedding at John James Audubon Center Cocktail Hour Tim & Jules Wedding at John James Audubon Center Cocktail Hour Tim & Jules Wedding at John James Audubon Center Cocktail Hour

The Real Reason Cocktail Hour Exists

For Brides

  1. Liz

    March 22nd, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Excellent suggestions! I do love first looks!

  2. Holly Frazier

    March 22nd, 2017 at 11:59 am

    This is great! Just another reason to consider doing a first look!

  3. Karen Shoufler

    March 22nd, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Great information! This is so helpful.

  4. Marquette LaRee

    March 22nd, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Yes!! That cocktail hour is so important (and to be used in the right way!)

  5. Jesi

    March 22nd, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    This is such a great post! Cocktail hour is so important for having more time for B&G portraits!

  6. Stefani Ciotti

    March 22nd, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Excellent point and great suggestions! Super helpful!

  7. Cinnamon Wolfe

    March 23rd, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    yes yes yes a thousand times yes!!

  8. Joanna Moss

    March 26th, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Haha that’s awesome and so true!

  9. Misty

    March 26th, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Cocktail is nice to have if you do get all the photos done before hand, too!! 🙂 It’s a fun time for the bride and groom to mingle with their guests! And I LOVE first looks!!

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