Outdoor wedding cocktail hour in a Sperry Tent at Wentworth

After you’ve said “I Do” – it’s time to celebrate! A cocktail hour before the official start of your reception provides your guests with the opportunity to mingle while enjoying light bites and libations, all while soaking in the beautiful atmosphere and building anticipation for the night’s festivities.

From location and timing to entertainment and more, there are endless ways to create a memorable event. If you’re looking to plan a charming cocktail hour, keep reading as our Wedding & Events Team dives into their top tips and tricks!

Location: Create the Perfect Setting

The first step is envisioning your desired setting and selecting a venue that can portray a specific ambiance: cozy, romantic, rustic, timeless and more. Choose whether you want an intimate separate space or one that’s connected to your reception area. Keep in mind that a seamless transition is key to getting the night’s festivities started off on the right foot!

At Wentworth by the Sea Country Club, the Sperry Seacoast Tent provides a stunning and inviting backdrop for your cocktail hour. With scenic New Hampshire Seacoast views and the lush greenery of the golf course, it is the ideal setting to kick off your celebration.

Timing: Keep It Short and Sweet

The ideal timing for a cocktail hour is between 45 minutes to an hour. This gives guests enough time to mingle, enjoy refreshments, take photos and bask in the scenery before making their way to their seats for a formal, sit-down meal during the reception.

This timing also provides the happy couple ample time to take additional wedding portraits as they soak in that ‘just married’ feeling.

Comfy armchairs under wedding tent
Glassware display at wedding

Decor: Set the Mood

Creating the right ambiance is crucial for a cocktail hour! Consider incorporating stylish lounge areas with chic pillows and comfortable seating to encourage relaxation and conversation amongst guests. Thoughtful decor choices, such as elegant floral arrangements – which can incorporate florals from your ceremony – and beautiful lighting can transform the space and add to the overall allure. You can also add a personal touch with decorative DIY signs or a romantic welcome wall. For a seamless guest experience, have the seating chart on display to prevent rush in the reception area.

Lobster roll being served at cocktail hour at a Wentworth Weddings wedding
Smiling married couple at wedding posing with cotton candy food cart
Catered food for cocktail hour

Food: Light Bites and Themed Treats

Enhance the overall experience and satisfy your guests’ cravings with a curated menu of delectable bites. You can also incorporate themed treats that reflect favorite cuisines, cultures and location of your wedding reception – such as fresh lobster rolls! Pro tip: finger food is always a hit amongst guests of all ages!

Want to add a unique touch? Consider hiring a food truck or having a dessert station for a playful way for your guests to indulge in all-things delicious.

Personalized wedding napkins
Bar at wedding with custom sign
Custom drink menu at wedding

Beverage: Cheers to Love

It is called cocktail hour after all! Drink displays – such as wine walls or champagne stations – add an elegant touch to your cocktail hour. One trend we can’t get enough of is offering signature cocktails. Perhaps it’s a cocktail inspired by the location of your first date, or a mocktail that pays homage to a shared hobby. Whether you choose a drink to reflect the overall ambiance of your big day or choose libations that speak to both you and your partner, the personalized details will stand out to your guests.

Make your cocktail hour even more special by featuring custom signs and napkins featuring your names, beloved pets, love letters or fun facts about your relationship.

Game of checkers on a table at a wedding cocktail hour
Live musicians at wedding party
Lawn game at wedding

Entertainment: Keep Guests Engaged

While your guests are enjoying drinks and conversation, consider additional ways to keep them entertained. Create the perfect ambiance by selecting music to accompany your cocktail hour. Whether it’s a live jazz band, a classical quartet or a curated playlist of your favorite tunes, the right soundtrack will enhance the mood and encourage a lively atmosphere. To help capture the memories of this time before your ceremony, hire a live painter to capture the moment in real-time or have a photo booth set up so your guests can take home photo keepsakes of your wedding day.

At Wentworth by the Sea Country Club, there’s also ample space to incorporate lawn games, such as Jenga, Connect Four, croquet or cornhole for some friendly competition!

Outdoor cocktail hour event at wedding
Looking for additional inspiration? Explore these articles from Green Wedding Shoes, Brides, and Martha Stewart.

Ready to Plan Your Dream Cocktail Hour?

With these tips and tricks, and Wentworth by the Sea Country Club’s beautiful venues, your cocktail hour is sure to be a hit! Our Wedding & Events Team is here to help you plan every aspect of your wedding day, ensuring a truly memorable experience for you and your guests.

Contact us today to start planning your New England seaside wedding.


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