Continuing with our series on how to be more concious of one's guests... today we will address the cocktail hour entertainment, or rather lack there of. I would say that about 50% of my brides, regardless of budget, often overlook designing an entertaining cocktail hour experience. In fact, I would venture to say that most of my brides see any money spent on this element as frugal. Guests have just sat through the ceremony, and while they will enjoy the time to wind down (and will undoubtedly appreciate a cocktail or two) the full hour can feel a little like wedding purgatory- a limbo of sorts where eventually everyone is standing around anxiously anticipating the arrival of the main courses, the couple, and the party.
One of my favorite ways to bring a little life to the cocktail hour is by engaging guests with a playful and unexpected element. Before you assume that this is yet another evil ploy from the "wedding industrial complex" understand that such an element does not necessarily mean spending a ton of money.
Perhaps you are having an outdoor cocktail hour on a grassy knoll? Consider adding a little croquet, badmitton, or bocce ball for good measure.
Have a little extra change in your budget? Consider hiring an interactive entertainer like a card musician, fortune teller, cigar roller, silhouette artist, caricature artist, etc. Having someone either work the crowd, or provide a station, can really loosen up the mood of the evening.
Looking to stay traditional? Go ahead and get a little cheeky with a string quartet that plays strictly Beetles and contemporary selections.
The greatest benefit to providing cocktail entertainment is that your guests will soon forget that your photos are running over time or that they're starving. Those guests who are not familiar with anyone else will find common grounds to start conversation over. Let this hour set the stage for the rest of your evening... as the more comfortable that your guests become during this hour, the more apt they are to engage the rest of the evening and stay until the end.