Cocktail hour is a very important part of every wedding. And believe it or not, the reason has very little to do with cocktails! Whether you’re serving signature concoctions or non-alcoholic Southern staples like sweet tea or lemonade, the drinks are only there to disguise the real purpose of cocktail hour!
It’s no surprise that the reception is everyone’s favorite part of a wedding day! It’s the time that the bride and groom can finally relax and celebrate with their favorite people. Guests get to congratulate the happy couple, eat, drink, and dance! It’s a big party, and everyone loves a party!
It’s also the part of the day that the bride and groom likely spend the most money decorating and the most time planning. But ironically, they very rarely get to see the room all set up! Guests enter before they do, and chances are that place cards have already been snatched up, chairs have been claimed, moved, and decorated with sweaters, jackets, and scarves as guests enter and find their seats. Appetizers are dwindling, and there are people milling about everywhere. The bride and groom don’t get a chance to see all their hard work pay off. We only need 10-15 minutes to make sure they see it!
For that reason, it’s ESSENTIAL that the photographers get a chance to photograph the room empty, before guests enter. Having a cocktail hour in an area other than the main reception room will gather guests elsewhere and allow the photographers to run in and grab a few room and detail shots of the reception space. This is especially important if the reception location is different from the ceremony location! It’s usually the only way that brides can see the room untouched.
While that is enough reason alone to have a cocktail hour, there are several other benefits too:
1. Room shots are required for publishing.
If you are thinking about having your wedding published, an overall shot of the reception space is a must! Pretty wedding blogs and magazines like to publish lots of reception inspiration decor shots, and without these, it’s likely your wedding will not be accepted. Even when the bride doesn’t initiate it, we always try to get our weddings published somewhere when possible, but we can’t do it without these detail shots!
2. Vendors want photos of their work
We love sharing our photos with everyone you chose to work on your wedding! There are lots of people who work hard behind the scenes, including florists, caterers, and venue coordinators. They want beautiful, publishable photos of their work too!
3. It will make your wedding album beautiful and cohesive
We always tell our clients that it’s our job to tell your wedding story, and your wedding album is like your own personal storybook! We want everyone who looks through it to be able to see what everything looked and felt like, even if they weren’t there. That’s our job! But the story is incomplete without all the reception detail shots. These shots will further illustrate your colors and style, and make your wedding album beautiful!
4. It gives guests something to do while they wait
Even if you and your groom have a First Look, all the guests will need to be at the reception before you can be announced. A lot of times, the bride and groom will grab something to eat, or take a few more photographs (sunset, anyone???) that will delay them just a bit. Cocktail hour gives guests a chance to mingle and grab a snack before dinner is served.
5. It gives the bride and groom a chance to relax before the party
Marriage is a big deal! Take a few minutes to enjoy it with each other, and maybe take a few more private portraits with your photographer, before you spend the evening being congratulated, hugged, and twirled around the dance floor!
So, please, make sure your photographer has at least 10-15 minutes alone in the empty reception room. You won’t regret it, and your photographers, guests, and other vendors will love you for it!