Cocktail Hour: To Join or Not to Join… That is the Question

Good morning lovebirds!


Photo Credit: Iris & Light

Here at Marisa Nicole Events, we want your wedding day to be your best day ever, so we work with our couples to craft a flow that reflects what each couple wants from their day! We start working out this minutia about three months out and as we walk through this process with our couples, one big question always comes up – “Are you wanting to go to cocktail hour, or take photos during that time?” The truth is that you need to do what is right for you on this front! Some couples don’t see each other before their wedding and spend pretty much all of cocktail hour taking photos. Others get all their photos done beforehand and kick off cocktail hour with shots. And many of our couple do a bit of everything (extended family photos, a few moments alone, and a few minutes with their guests). Today, we want to make that choice a little bit easier by walking through some of the logistics and options for your cocktail hour. So without further ado…

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Left: Glass Jar Photography Right: KT Merry Photography

Newlywed Etiquette

One thing to keep in mind about cocktail hour is that the overall vibe during this time is different than any other point in your day. The ceremony is definitely more serious and the reception has more of a dinner and dancing party vibe. Your cocktail hour will be filled with mingling, tasty appetizers and a more light, easy feel. It is wedding etiquette for the bridal couple to greet all their guests at some point in the day, so that each guest feels as if their attendance is appreciated. We think cocktail hour is a perfect time to do this in a very casual and stress-free way. Other options for greeting each guest individually is to do a little something we call “table visits” during dinner (but then you get very little time to eat). Other couples plan to see their guests on the dance floor (but this can be problematic, as some guests will never step foot on the dance floor and might be missed).

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Photo Credit: Andrew Abajian

Photo Logistics

Let’s be honest, we have a ton of photos to take on your wedding day, and sometimes scheduling them all in can get a bit hectic. There are getting ready photos, romantic shots, bridal party photos, family photos, and any special moments that you might want captured. If you are willing to do a first look and get most of your formal/must-have shots out of the way, then cocktail hour is more or less yours to do with what you like. However, if you choose to go the traditional route and not see each other until you walk down the aisle, even if we schedule immediate family photos and separated bridal photos prior to the ceremony, you will still need to get full family photos and bridal party shots after the ceremony. When you add those to a short romantic session, every second of your cocktail hour is accounted for. Unless you want no formal shots at all, there is no way I can magically allot time for you to join cocktail hour. And I know what you are thinking “we’ll just have a longer cocktail hour”… I need you to truth me on this one. That is not a good idea for your guests. All that to say, you need to keep what you want from your cocktail hour in mind when you are deciding whether to have a first look or not.


Photo Credit: Iris & Light

Grand Entrance

A grand entrance is a time to enter together and see all your friends as officially a married couple. But, how can you do a grand entrance into your reception if you’ve already entered as a couple into cocktail hour? Just because you have joined cocktail hour does not mean you can’t do a grand entrance into your reception! You can still make a grand entrance by sneaking out of site from your guests during cocktail hour and coming back in once everyone is seated.  You can even choose to do your grand entrance during cocktail hour. Either way, you will get the excitement and loud applause from your guests! On a side note, you can also choose to ditch the grand entrance completely and just sneak into cocktail hour or the reception with your guests. The day is yours to do what you will!

Ann-Kathrin Koch

Photo Credit: Ann-Kathrin Koch

Cocktail hour is the perfect time to mingle with guests and some couples see it as something they cannot miss (and we kind of agree)! Keep in mind that it is your wedding and you can do whatever makes you happy. You poured tons of time, energy and finances into crafting your perfect celebration and should be able to enjoy every aspect of your day. Therefore, skip cocktail hour, attend it in full, or do a bit of everything… It is up to you! Finally, we encourage you to factor in a bit of flexibility to your day of planning to allow for a few quick photos when the lighting is perfect. Photographers may want to snag you for a few moments during golden hour or as the sun is setting during cocktail hour, dinner, or even dancing. This is usually the money shot, so we suggest throwing the photographer a bone and take a quick timeout from celebrating if the photographer comes up to you and says that the light is perfect (If photos matter to you at all, you won’t regret it!).


Photo Credit: Iris & Light

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