A wedding is a time for tradition. That’s why most couples in the U.S. opt for the traditional order of wedding events: ceremony first, followed by a cocktail hour, then dinner and dancing. But what if you want to break with tradition and do something different for your cocktail hour. Or (gasp!) not have a cocktail hour at all? With more and more couples opting for creativity over tradition during cocktail hour, wedding guests are increasingly surprised and delighted by cute options like these that create even more memorable moments.
Croquet, cornhole, giant Jenga, giant checkers, homemade Twister — there are dozens of fun lawn-game options to keep your more playful guests entertained. Having games set up for your guests to play at their leisure is a fun and memorable way to make your cocktail hour unique. Etsy is an incredible resource for finding gems for cocktail hour lawn games, like these custom wedding cornhole boards. And, as a perk, you’ll have the games to keep for future parties.
There are plenty of ways to signify a celebration is in order, but two of the most celebratory are champagne and cigars. If you have some cigar lovers in attendance, hosting a cigar bar during your wedding cocktail hour is an impressive and distinct way to make your day even more special. JR Cigar has an incredible selection, including world-renowned Montecristo cigars, and you can add a special DIY flair by creating your own handmade description cards to highlight the distinct tasting notes for each type of cigar.
If your ceremony is earlier in the day, why not forgo the traditional cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and serve cake and coffee immediately following the ceremony? This is a great alternative to the traditional wedding-cake cutting at the end of the night, and it’s a great way to save money. Cutting down on the amount of alcohol served is always better for the budget.
Another cute alternative is to have champagne poured and do your wedding toasts a little early. It’s a less formal way of bringing everyone together in recognition of the bride and groom, but it’s a fun way to kick off the cocktail hour. If your venue allows you to supply your own, stock up on plenty of bubbles from wine.com. (Tip: Go for cava or dry prosecco, rather than true champagne, to save some money.)
Host wine or beer tasting
If you think your guests are going to appreciate an activity that will keep them entertained beyond toasting and mingling, you could offer a wine- or beer-tasting bar. This little addition to a cocktail hour could amplify the festivities, especially if you and your fiancé are avid wine tasters or beer aficionados. A tasting bar could add an adorable touch to share with your guests something personal and special from your life.
Completely mix it up
For nontraditional couples who want to save money, replacing a standard cocktail hour with, well, nothing might be a good option. Replace that hour with late-night bonfires and s’mores, or simply make a quick getaway after the ceremony to greet your guests and kick off the reception.
Or, for a complete flip on tradition, make your wedding reception one long cocktail hour. As long as your guests get plenty of food and drinks, a formal dinner might not be missed — especially if there’s ample music and dancing!
Chelsea is a freelance writer living in San Francisco, specializing in lifestyle and travel. When she can’t get on a plane herself to visit somewhere obscure (Montenegro anyone?), she’s training her sweet puppy and taking visitors to wine country with her fiancé. She loves being able to share ideas and stories proving that doing good and having fun can go hand in hand.