Cocktail hour at a reception serves several purposes. It gives the couple and their friends and families time for some post-ceremony photos. A cocktail hour gives the guests a chance to meet and mingle with other wedding guests as well as share a snack and a drink before the big reception meal.
A cocktail hour sets the theme for the rest of the night – it’s a relaxed moment, which allows the newly married couple highlight their creativity and fun side. Cocktail hours take place anywhere – but most people hold it at or near the reception site.
Although cocktail hours can serve whatever food you love, traditionally, you’ll want to have both hot and cold appetizers as well as different options for guests. Usually three hot and three cold will do the trick. You can 2 passed meat dishes, one or two seafood choices, and a few cheese hors d’oeuvres – don’t forget vegetarian options.
Each guest will most likely eat 5-6 pieces per hour. If you’re hosting 80 people for an hour, you’ll want to make sure you have roughly 500 pieces of appetizer. Limit back up by limiting food stations – either have 2-3 set spots for guests to pick up snacks or have servers circulating through the party with passed hors d’oeuvres. Keep it finger-friendly – avoid picks and tails and shells – food that needs to be discarded.
Snacks are wonderful, but most people will be eager to get a drink. Some guidelines for serving drinks during the cocktail hour:
- Generally, you can assume each guest will consume about 2 drinks per hour.
- You don’t need to spend your money on top-shelf liquor unless it’s a splurge for a special guest or parent – mid-level booze can save you hundreds of dollars on your ceremony.
- If you’re hosting an open bar as well as wine and beer, consider hosting one main bar for all drinks and two smaller bars with only wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks to keep the lines short and the mood celebratory.
- Serving a signature cocktail? Aim to have drinks with no more than 4 elements – you can get fancy with juices and syrups.
- Serving wine? Keep it simple! It’s not a tasting, so one white and one red can go a long way.
- Beer is a great, budget-friendly drink. Save your bartenders time by offering local microbeer in the bottle.
- Don’t forget a great non-alcoholic drink. Guests who don’t imbibe shouldn’t be limited to just water and soda.
A great party layout can make or break your event. Create an open layout – leaving the ceremony to move directly into a long drink line can ruin the great mood everyone’s in from the ceremony.
Another way to ease bottlenecking is to make sure you have at least one bartender for every 75 guests. To make the party vibe more open and relaxed, make sure the space has been cleared of possible speedbumps. A great way to do that is to have servers stationed at the entrance of the cocktail area — as soon as guests enter the room, guests can get their drink and move through.
For entertainment, consider including games like bocce, corn hole or croquet for guests to entertain themselves. Live music is always a welcome touch – but a pre-made playlist can add just the right personal touch.
During cocktail hour, guests are more focused on relaxing and meeting each other – so you can save on décor. Tables to set drinks down are a must – plan for some low and some high tables to mix up the space
And don’t forget to list the cocktail hour on the wedding invitation. It’s a good idea to let guests know that cocktail hour will follow the ceremony. If the location’s different, make sure you let the guests know that as well. They’ll want to celebrate with the happy couple and share the love of the special day.
Few events are as intimate as a wedding. When you’re pledging your life to someone in front of all the people you love, well, that’s about as personal as it gets.
We’ve collected ten of our favorite personal touches for weddings — bring your family, your friendships and your love to the forefront of this once in a lifetime event.
One of our favorite ways to personalize your wedding is to start off with a drink by throwing a short cocktail reception before the ceremony. This gives guests a few extra minutes to socialize and can set the mood
Hashtags may feel like one of the least personal touches to your wedding, but when all of your guests’ photos, thoughts and social media updates are organized in one clear stream, you’ll be grateful you did it.
Favors are your ultimate opportunity for personalization – include your Mexican heritage with end of the night churros and hot chocolate – or your Midwestern roots with seeds of wildflowers from your home town.
Consider a personalized wedding cake topper. It’s a sweet and memorable way to share your personal style with your guests.
Serve wines from the years you met, or when you were born. You could also just pour wines that are important to the two of you. You could explain in a note to the guests at their table, or you could keep that knowledge between you and your beloved.
A more sentimental suggestion is to carry a bouquet with the same types of flowers that your mom carried as a bride.
Have pets? If well-trained and good with crowds, consider having your dog carry the rings down the aisle. Keep the treats with your officiant.
Number or name tables for the reception after places important to you both — consider favorite songs, where you’ve lived or where the proposal took place.
Personalized M&Ms are always a good idea. You can even personalize with images — your faces, places important to you or a beloved pet.
Have you seen any wonderful personalized wedding ideas? Share in the comments!
Small jars of granola are an adorably budget friendly favor to consider for your wedding. They’re a favor the two of you can make together, and guests love that you did it yourself. We used the standard labels for our granola, but you could customize your labels with your wedding colors or design.
Wedding Favor Granola Recipe – recipe makes enough to fill 12 small jars.
4 cups oats
2 cups almonds
1/2 cup canola oil (or light olive oil or your favorite neutral oil)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried peaches
1 cup flaked coconut
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Put the almonds in a large plastic bag or between two dish towels. Smash them with a hammer until they are the size of little pebbles — I like them broken into roughly four pieces each.
In a large bowl, mix the oats and almonds together.
In a small saucepan, heat the oil, honey and vanilla together until they’re bubbly.
Spread the whole mixture out in one layer on a rimmed baking pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.
While the mixture is baking, cut up your peaches into thin strips. I like to use a clean pair of scissors.
Don’t forget your coconut flakes!
Pull the granola-filled rimmed baking sheet from the oven and stir through the peaches and coconut. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, stir through and let cool.
While the granola is cooling, get your jars ready for filling. Make sure they’re clean before you start filling.
Fill each jar up with your granola and treat your guests with something you made!
It’s the season for hot, hot weather. Monogamy Wines wants to keep you super cool. Add in a big emotional event like a wedding, and you could have a recipe for definitely un-cool heat stroke and sunburns. Help keep your guests comfortable and add to your décor with these chic shades.
And don’t forget, if you have pregnant or elderly guests, it may be worth looking into an indoor/outdoor location where people have the option to escape from the heat.
Hand held shade
Hand held shade like parasols look absolutely adorable in baskets and buckets or hanging from the back of chairs. Plus, they double as favors – keeping guests cooler and giving them something for attending.
With parasols, you’ll want to take some things into consideration. You’ll want to make sure that the opened umbrella won’t block anyone’s view of the big event. As well, some men aren’t comfortable twirling a parasol overhead so they may be kept uncovered.
Instead of parasols, we’ve also seen buckets of sun hats available for guests to take with them. By having all kinds of hats for men and women, you create a fantastic icebreaker for guests to get to know each other.
When thinking shade, the first thing we think of are tents. The only drawback? The price. Some tents can require significant investment in both a deposit and the rental fee. That said, there’s nothing else that can protect your guests from the elements.
Clear tents are another option, letting your guests see the beauty of the area, while protected from the elements, add shade through draped fabrics.
The Natural Route
Cheap, widely available, cool, have you thought about trees? Nature’s original chic shade provider could help protect your guests and keep them comfortable throughout your event. If you’re getting married in a park or a field, consider other areas of the land to take advantage of natural shade.
More budget-friendly shade can be DIY’ed. Provide shade with poles and light weight fabric to keep the sun off your guests. You’ll definitely want to do solid research before you get started to make sure that no poles will tumble down during the event and that the fabric is light enough for wind to not catch the fabric. Avoid parachute fabric — its whole job is not to let air through – and could pull down any structures you’ve built.
Our favorite shade is also the most impractical – but comes from Gustafson Porter at the Venice Biennale. Tethered to the ground, these helium weather balloons create creative, innovative shade for all your guests. Bonus! When the balloons run out of helium, you know the party’s truly over.
How are you planning to keep guests cool on your special day?
Wedding food options undergoing a renaissance. Brides and grooms once stuck with a sad buffet of hotel food have more evolved options. From caterers to venue staff, we’re finding much more flexibility from vendors eager to work with their guests.
In wine country, we’ve noticed a turn toward weddings that celebrate the glory of brunch, include wine and beer flights, fresh foods, creative cake alternatives and clever late night snacks. All in all, relaxing these traditions is a trend we fully support.
The Brunch Wedding Evolution
Hosting a brunch wedding is no doubt a great way to reduce the cost of your wedding food. Says Jen Campbell, GreenWeddingShoes.com [http://www.greenweddingshoes.com] editor and creative director, “Brunch has become popular lately because daytime weddings are cheaper than doing dinnertime or afternoon. I’m also seeing people doing breakfast for dinner – like omelettes or pancakes.”
Brunch menu items can include mini French toasts, bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, perfect pan-fried potatoes and blueberry pancakes. The way to make it wedding-worthy is all in the presentation and great caterers may jump at the opportunity
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jing-a-ling/
“Flights are a big trend at the cocktail hour or even at the reception,” says Ania Wiikka, site director for TheKnot.com, “It may be wine tasting, or beer flights – maybe from breweries around where you’re from. For example, if you went to college in the Midwest – you might serve beer from a great local brewery there.”
For couples looking for an impressive cocktail hour activity, let guests be inspired by your love of wine as they work their way through a flight of wine from a favorite region. What you pair those flights with also has room for creativity – whether it’s pretzels and mustard or olives, don’t miss the opportunity to make each sip and bite special.
Fresh, Seasonal and Absolutely Delicious
Paired with increasing popularity of farmers markets, wine country’s fresh cuisine is now a trend of its own. A hallmark of wine country cuisine has always been a dependence on seasonal food. Whether that’s Silverado Trail strawberries in May and June or hearty greens in the winter, the focus on foods that are of the moment is a trend we hope continues. From Anja Winikka of TheKnot.com, “Today there is almost an expectation of local, seasonal ingredients at weddings. Caterers are thinking more toward the lines of organic and farm fresh foods.”
Creative Cakes and Supporting Desserts
Image source: http://itsabrideslife.com/food/macaron-love/
Although my stance has softened slightly, I’m still not much for cake. And it’s fun to see all the cake alternatives trending this year in wine country. From push pops to crepe cakes, couples are pushing the boundaries of showstopping desserts. “A few years ago, everyone was loving cupcakes at their weddings. Now, it’s pies, macaron cakes, crepe cakes – more non-traditional desserts.” Says Azure Nelson, OnceWed.com editorial director. We’ve also seen gorgeously presented donut bars that could win over the most traditional mother-in-law.
Late Night Loving
Giving your guests a memorable, late night snack on their way home is one of our favorite food trends of 2015. The end of the night is a great time to incorporate food trucks or carts – and to help your guests get a little something in their stomachs after a long night of dancing. Give guests a snack box that doubles as a favor on their way home – whether that’s a special condiment, cookies and milk or something more substantial. From IntimateWeddings.com editor Christina Friedrichsen, “The late night snack is a fairly recent trend – after everybody’s been fed, the couple will send out trays of fun food – like pizza, tacos or a sundae bar.”
As trends in wedding food come and go over the years, we can’t wait to see what’s next. What are your favorite wedding food trends for next year?
Share in the comments!
The actual work of wedding preparations can often unfairly fall to only one of the betrothed. When there’s an activity for both of you to participate in together, we want to know more. We have pulled together some wedding DIY’s perfect for the both of you. With elements that appeal to different personality types you can find DIY wedding décor for two.
From Design for Mankind, these ombre blocks make gorgeous placeholders. At once modern and organic, these tiny blocks could be customized for any wedding décor colors. For partners who are more hands on, their job is to cut and sand the blocks. For those with a more artistic bent, their job is to paint the blocks and letter the cards.
These DIY birch log candleholders are a stunning way to use up felled logs from a wooded property. With a rustic, natural feel, these could be custom cut to be the perfect height in more rustic centerpieces.
Do you both enjoy time on the couch after a long day of work? Craft these Celtic heart knots while you catch up on your shows. They can be a little finicky to get just right, so it’s fun to have a partner there to help you out during the tricky parts. These knots could be used as napkin rings, coasters, or favors all within the look of your wedding decor.
If you’re really ready to take out the power tools and make something amazing together, consider this DIY neon sign With the help of our friends at A Practical Wedding, we learned that a custom made neon sign doesn’t have to break the budget.
Did you co-create any crafts for your wedding? Share with us in the comments!
Everyone agrees that date night is important for the strength of relationships, but it’s so hard to remember to make time for the two of you. Whether you’ve been married for a week or 50 years, date night requires a plan. It can be especially challenging to remember with competing calls from work, friends and family.
To help make date night a little more interesting, we pulled together seven springtime date night ideas to strengthen your relationship.
Photo from Flickr user liz west
Go strawberry or asparagus picking.
In wine country, pick your own plants in season are asparagus and strawberries. You may have a seasonal pick-your-own farm close to your home. Pick your own.org http://www.pickyourown.org/ is a great way to find a pick your own farm near you. Go pick some fruits or veggies. It’s even better if you can put them up by canning, jarring or jamming your bounty.
See the Stars – Check Out a Local Observatory
Photo from Flickr user Scott Wylie
A shared sense of awe can help create intimacy in any stranger. Think of what it can do for your relationship. Check out Stardate for some information to get the two of you started. Looking up can help to remind you how insignificant we are in the big scheme of things. Ignite your inner sense of wonder by learning about our cosmos and the incredibly tiny chance that we could be so in love, right here.
Continuing Education – Take a Wine Class!
Most community colleges offer continuing education classes in a variety of topics. Find one that interests you. Cooking classes can be hands on fun that ends up being incredibly useful! After we took a sushi-making class together, my husband and I started making “DIY sushi night” it’s own special kind of date night.
Become a Hometown Tourist
Any local historical locations that you’ve heard about but never visited? Now’s the time to check out some local history. From lighthouses to grist mills , there’s a local historical site for everyone.
Attend a Book Reading, Improv Show or Performance
Help support local talent by attending local events from performers and artists getting their start. Book readings are a great way to learn together. Bonus points if you both read the book. Improv shows are a budget-friendly way to put the both of you in a better mood and local musicians might surprise you with their talent.
Photo from Flickr user William Cresswell
Decide to explore a vice together. Whether it is for sexy times, drunken times, gambling times or gluttony times, pick a vice to learn more about. A shared sense of mischief can bring the both of you closer together. (I don’t think I need to go into more detail here, ahem.)
Plan for Serendipity
Sometimes the greatest date has no plan at all. Don’t be afraid to pick a general destination and wander around until you find something. The next town over is a great opportunity to discover something together, strengthening bonds in the process.
Any dates you’ve been on that have strengthened your relationship? Tell us in the comments!
As one of California’s more affordable getaway spots, Paso Robles is quickly becoming home to fine winemakers and restauranteurs priced out of more expensive locations. The quality of wine tasting and dining is high while the prices can be lower than in Napa and Sonoma. In short, it’s the ideal place to bring together your best friends for a day of wine tasting and great food.
Situated just an hour from the coast and 30 minutes from San Luis Obispo, it’s far enough away to feel like a real destination, but close enough to get there in a day. Beware, especially in summer, the weather is hot, hot, hot during the day – but it usually cools down at night.
From our love of this unique wine country, we’ve pulled together five must-sees for your Paso Robles weekend.
For a special night out, nothing beats a classic French meal at Bistro Laurent. Their wine list is top notch, and their tasting menu is perfect for groups. Sommelier Ian Adamo makes sure all wines are the perfect match with the warmly served French cuisine.
Looking for a down-home tasty brew pub? Firestone Walker knows what you want. This award-winning brewery offers popular tours and tastings to the public seven days a week. For only $3/person, it’s one of the best deals in town. Their restaurant is the ideal spot for a filling lunch before heading back into the sun.
This newly renovated winery has a hip, educated staff eager to share. With décor that’s modern yet medieval, the tasting room experience is unique to wine country. The patio is perfect for lingering groups as they have live music most weekends.
Hot Springs Soak
Paso Robles’ unique topography means they’re home to hot springs. River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, Paso Robles Inn and Franklin Hot Springs all host wonderfully stinky Sulphur natural hot springs – perfect for soaking any lingering stress away. Not as fancy as the wine tasting, these natural springs will still help you soak your way to peace.
Chef Chris Manning has created the perfect farm to table experience, with locally grown produce, meats and fish. The wine list is also brilliant, pairing just the right wines with the seasonal fare. They’ve been one of the first restaurants in California to pioneer this trend, and with our experience, they’ve had time to perfect it.
Do you have any favorite stops in Paso Robles wine country? Where do you love to go? Tell us in the comments!
Wedding décor trends have shifted significantly over the past 50 years. Trends have spanned from my parents’ simple wedding with floral arrangements in the church basement — to my own wedding’s candles and mirrors — to today’s totally uniquely thrifted DIY extravaganzas. The world of fresh wedding décor has changed significantly. Wine country style makes up a huge part of current wedding décor trends.
Architectural Digest defines Wine Country Style as made up of “rustic bungalows, barns and outbuildings characterize a region known for the simplicity of good living.” We agree. We’ve been thrilled to take a look at fresh wedding décor inspired by rustic elegance, French wine country and good living – and bring the best to you!
Sometimes it’s the (really) little things that add up to make your event more memorable. Here the “cork-as-card-holder” idea gets an update with a dark wood stain.
Rustic elegance brings to mind wine country inspired props and décor – like wine bottles and barrels.
Using empty glass wine bottles as centerpieces looks warm and inviting – and yet the clear glass keeps it sparkling and just a little bit modern.
Using wine barrels, either as tables or props is a useful way to incorporate wine country wedding décor. Here, the wine barrels both anchor the entrance to the event and provide a useful surface for programs or refreshments.
There’s something about French style that’s effortlessly stylish, useful and enjoyable. That’s no short order! The Wedding Chicks show us a remarkable arrangement inspired by French wedding décor. This wedding bouquet brings to mind a peaceful afternoon in a French meadow.
They also share the most French of displays – a gorgeous dessert display on rustic wooden tables. Real Simple shares how to build this shelf in your own home.
The structural elements of a barrel aging room create the perfect backdrop to your reception – and the gently aging wine brings the scents of the California wine experience to your guests.
Glowing and charming, this chic California wine country wedding has all the elements of wine country style. It beautifully works between utterly gorgeous and simply comfortable.
Bring wine country décor to your big day – we can’t wait to see what you’ve done.
Despite our allergies, we at Monogamy Wines love spring wedding season. Mostly, it’s all that gorgeous décor. Today, we’ve taken inspiration from 2015’s trends in runway style, home décor, food and art for some spring floral arrangements.
Thinking of doing a DIY flower approach? A Practical Wedding suggests you bring in the friends – you can save a little money by including your team of people to help with wedding flowers. The advice to do a dry run with the flowers makes perfect sense.
Onto the eye candy!
Spring Flowers Inspired by Runway Style
Inspiration from the runway is some of our favorite inspiration. This time, we took a look at Thakoon’s bright, Matisse-inspired jacket from the 2015 Resort Collection for floral inspiration. The bright orange and teal shapes the starting point for this elegant orange and teal centerpiece.
Spring Flowers Inspired by Home Décor
Apartment Therapy released their picks for 2015’s top design trends. Industrial modern design made the list in a big way. These sculptural yellow wedding flowers take their cue from modern shapes and bold colors.
Spring Flowers Inspired by Food
Andrew Knowlton from Bon Appetit determined 2015 the year of the Gyro. We’re not suggesting you take your floral cues from meat sliced off a spit – but we are inspired by the fresh, brightly colored, wrapped sandwich. Who knew that this beautiful grouping of peonies and Hypernicum berries featured on Style Me Pretty would be just the right balance of freshness for your big day.
Spring Flowers Inspired by Art
Pop Art is a trend in the art world for 2015. For example, this piece by artist Karan Singh puts pattern and repetition together for a moving effect. These flowers from a bright shoot on Style Me Pretty are the right mix of novel and elegant.
Whatever your floral inspiration, you can find it in this year’s trends. Did you take any unusual inspiration? Share in the comments!