One common complaint among wedding guests is the boredom that some of them face during cocktail hour. The ceremony has concluded, the reception has yet to begin, and they’re bored… but that doesn’t have to be the case. Keep them entertained!
Generally speaking, most standard cocktail hours contain background music from a DJ, hors d’oeuvres, mingling with other guests, and possibly a bar. Most of your guests can be entertained well enough if you have a bar… especially if it’s an open bar. If you don’t have a bar, you’ll have more work and more entertaining to do.
There’s one thing that your cocktail hour probably won’t contain: you. You’ll be taking pictures with your spouse and immediate family so you won’t be there to do the hosting yourself.
Your guests who know plenty of their fellow attendees won’t have a problem. They’ll spend the time chatting and catching up with them. It’s the shy guests and the guests who don’t know anybody that are more likely to get bored and start staring at their phones.
There are a number of ways that you can add fun to this part of the day so that your guests don’t drift into a boredom coma. Here are a few suggestions:
Games: You know somebody who owns cornhole boards. Come on, this is North Carolina. Of course you do. Your venue might even have a set of their own. (For the unacquainted travel brides, cornhole is a beanbag tossing game.) Put out some boards, some beanbags, and your guests can have fun. You could also consider other lawn games like bocce, horseshoes, and frisbees.
Polaroid/disposable cameras/wedding hashtag: Put your guests to work and have them document the cocktail hour that you won’t get to see for yourself. Obviously the pictures won’t be professional quality but hey, you get what you pay for. Putting out a Polaroid camera or disposable cameras costs money to purchase and develop film. You know what you don’t have to buy? The cell phones that are already attached to everybody. That’s where the wedding hashtag comes in. Guests take pictures, post them to social media, and it doesn’t cost you anything.
Creative guest book: Setting out a picture album or some other creative sign-in alternative will keep people amused for at least a few minutes. They can flip through pictures or look over your artistic sign-in masterpiece and use them as a conversation starter.
Mad libs: Mad libs are those fill-in-the-blank sheets where you fill in nouns and verbs to create funny sentences. Brides are using them as guest books and/or entertainment because they make a funny keepsake for later on.
Photo booth: Allow your guests the opportunity to look ridiculous. Well… more ridiculous than normal. Hire a photo booth company to bring their booth, their props, and their fun. You’d be amazed how much fun people can have while making goofy faces.
Special performers: The band won’t begin their set until the reception and the DJ is just playing background music. Hire performers to entertain specifically during the cocktail hour. We saw a mariachi band hired last year for this specific reason and they were a huge hit.
Picture with everybody: Have your photographer get every single guest together in one huge picture. This is becoming an increasingly popular photo op but it takes both time and effort. Depending on everybody’s attentiveness, or inevitable lack thereof, it can take 10+ minutes to coordinate and execute this. Also, if you’re shooting this picture, you aren’t shooting your couple’s portraits of you and your new spouse. That’ll need to be made up at another time, either before the ceremony or during the reception.
Be there: It’s important for some brides to attend their own cocktail hour. They just don’t want to miss out on any part of their wedding. You’re the bride and if that’s what you want, your vendor team should make it happen. Just know that you’ll likely need to shoot your couple’s portraits before the wedding, which means that you’ll need to do a first look and see each other before the wedding, an idea that bucks years of tradition.
Your guests don’t have to be bored, scrolling through Facebook on their phones while they wait for you to show up and the reception to start. Put together some entertainment for them!