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The Cocktail Hour on your Wedding Day

Wedding Wednesday

May 27, 2020

Most weddings have some sort of cocktail hour, and it’s the perfect time for the couple to relax, have a snack, and enjoy the day! Usually by this time, all of the must-have photos are done, and the ceremony is over as well. Those are both things that can be stressful or nerve-racking at times, which always makes this part of the day extra fun!


Things to keep in mind when planning your cocktail hour:

  • How long do you want your guests to wait before the reception begins? How long do YOU want to wait?
  • There are many different options you can choose from when deciding what you, your groom, and your bridal party do during cocktail hour. Some couples rent a party bus for their bridal party while the guests have cocktail hour at the reception venue. Some couples enjoy cocktail hour with their guests. Other couples stay at the venue, but have their own cocktail hour with just their bridal party, while the guests and family have their own as well. Do whatever sounds the most fun to you!
  • If you’re not doing a first look, this is your only chance to get any and all portraits done, besides the extra sunset photos! If you don’t do a first look, you, your bridal party, and your family won’t be able to enjoy cocktail hour with the guests, or at least not all of it.


The last main thing to keep in mind is this: the length of your cocktail hour changes how you use up your 8 hours of photography coverage that’s included in your package. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW! I love including at least 8 hours in my packages because it’s usually (though not always!) the perfect amount of time to capture everything: bridal details, getting ready, first look and portraits, bridal party, family photos, ceremony, cocktail hour, and main reception events. Usually, an hourlong cocktail hour will fit within that timeframe.

However, there are some exceptions to that that I can’t guarantee:

  1. depending if there is any driving time between the getting ready locations, portrait location, ceremony location, and/or reception location.
  2. how large your bridal party and family is – if it’s a lot of people, sometimes we need extra time for those photos.
  3. how long your ceremony is.


There are many things that have a big impact on how far your 8 hours of coverage can stretch, but like I said earlier, USUALLY an hourlong cocktail hour will work! What is really difficult to fit into an 8 hour timeline is when cocktail hours last MORE than 1 hour, especially if any of those other things I listed above take extra time. Every wedding day is so different, so it’s impossible to make a timeline that would work for everyone! One couple may have everything at one location (so no driving time!), a 15 minute ceremony, and a 1-hour cocktail. Another couple may be getting ready at the bride’s house and the ceremony and reception are in different locations as well (so more driving time), a 30 minute ceremony, and also want a 2 hour cocktail hour! 8 hours would work perfectly fine for the first couple, but it wouldn’t work well for the second couple! Maybe you’re a bride that’s somewhere in between those two examples! In that case, feel free to message your photographer and see what they think/what will work best.

If you would truly love a cocktail hour that’s longer than 1 hour, then you may need to consider adding extra coverage! Think about your priorities on your wedding day and what matters to you most. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a longer cocktail hour, but make sure you’re okay with either cutting time for other things such as portraits OR you’re okay with adding additional coverage. No matter how your timeline plays out, I’ll be there to photograph it!

If you need help planning your timeline for your day, message me, or read through these posts!




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