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Dear Inspired: Cocktail hour query

Posted by Casey Harrison  May 13, 2013 10:20 AM

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Dear Becca and Casey,

In planning my wedding (I decided to forgo a wedding planner), I am finding the timeline to be the trickiest part. My question is about the cocktail hour. I'd like to have plenty of time for photos, so I'm considering either having a break between the ceremony and the cocktail hour, or having an extended cocktail hour. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see this done at weddings often?

Thanks so much!

Confused about Cocktails

Dear Confused,

My answer may be surprising from the photographer's perspective, but I am not a fan of extended cocktail hours. It is generally accepted that cocktail hours should be just that - an hour - and can occasionally extend to an hour and a half. Any longer than that, and guests will begin to be hungry and bored. Other important considerations for cocktail hour: there should be drinks for all of the guests, including guests who prefer nonalchoholic beverages. There should be enough snacks to go around - it's never a good idea to serve drinks for hours to guests with empty stomachs! It's also a good idea to include some kind of activity. If you're having an outdoor wedding it can be a great time for lawn games.

Any photographer worth their fee should be able to get all of the family photos done in the time allotted. I am always careful to take as many photos as possible before the ceremony, and to have everyone ready to go so that the family groups can be formed as quickly as possible. Another important consideration is to take the photos somewhere close to the reception venue - driving everyone around to different locations for photos eats up tons of time!

Talk to your photographer and see what they think. There are always ways to fit the photos into the timeline, and it's really important to take your guests comfort into consideration!

Best of luck,


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About the Authors

Becca Olcott has a thing for old love letters and good old-fashioned romance. Bringing daily wedding updates and advice is second nature to Becca. She spends her days working with the brides of New England designing tablescapes full of lush florals and antique gems through her business Petal Floral Design.
Casey Harrison is a wedding and portrait photographer in the lovely city of Boston. She spends her days scouting the countryside for beautiful locations for shoots and taking photos of couples in love through her business Hello Love Photography.

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