Is 2 hrs too long for cocktail hour?

posted 3 years ago in Logistics
  • poll: Cocktail
    Cocktail at 5, Dinner at 7 , you arrive at 6 in other words, stay as planned : (6 votes)
    8 %
    Cocktails at 5, Dinner at 6, you arrive at 5, miss an hour of photos to be a good host : (25 votes)
    33 %
    Cocktails at 5, Dinner at 6, arrive at 6, miss an hour of circulation, but be a good host : (33 votes)
    44 %
    Truly, it does not matter either way : (7 votes)
    9 %
    Other: see comments below : (4 votes)
    5 %
  • Post # 4
    3280 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    I think 3 hours is a lot for photos. Maybe cut down the number of locations if possible. If you want to keep the 3 hours I would have cocktail hour 5-6, then arrival and dinner at 6. The point of cocktail hour is to take photos during it and guests don’t expect you to be there. Personally 7 is too late for dinner for me, even with appetizers. Will there be adequate seating during cocktail hour? Over an hour is definitely too long if not everyone will have a seat. 

    Post # 5
    629 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: August 2013

    Skip the cocktail hour and make your grand entrance at the reception for dinner. 2 hours is too long for guests to circulate, plus they’ll be wasted and starving by dinnertime.

    Post # 6
    4041 posts
    Honey bee

    @HourThyme:  I think 3 hours is just exhausting for photos. To give you some perspective, we did photos for 1 hour and 15 minutes (during our cocktail reception) and we eneded up with over 150 unique images…which was plenty. Honestly, if your photog is good, you will love fewer, but better quality photos than hundreds and hundreds of photos.

    Personally, as a guest, I would be annoyed to have to mingle for 2 hours. Actually, I have done it and I was annoyed, along with the other guests.

    If you are set on 3 hours of photography and you have the catholic gap, why not start your cocktails around 6:00pm and then dinner at 7pm? Then people have more freedom to do what they want with the time. I think one formal hour of cocktails is plenty.

    Post # 7
    668 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: November 2014

    A good cocktail hour is one of my favorite parts of a wedding. We’re going to do a 90 minute cocktail “hour”, since we’re going to have a harvest display, passed apps, and a pasta station. We want to have time for some pictures and have a chance to mingle. Two hours does seem a bit long, especially if not everyone that wants to can sit down. Shorten it a little??!

    Post # 8
    1719 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2010

    2 hours is only too long if you do not have open bar and if the food sucks.  If you have good drinks and good food, then hell yes, it’s awesome!  (cocktail hour food is almost always better than dinner food, man I wish my cocktail hour had been 2 hours!)

    Post # 9
    6447 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: June 2013

    2 hours is way too long. Do the guests know that dinner doesn’t start until 7? If I knew that I probably wouldn’t show up to the cocktail hour until at least 6.

    ETA: I think 2 hours is plently for pictures so you could make it by 5, however, if you don’t want to miss an hour and still want to circulate just start the cocktail hour at 6 and serve dinner at 7. I’m thinking that might not be an option since it’s so close now?

    Post # 10
    1248 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: April 2014

    2 hours is too long for me to be standing around in heels to be honest if it is usual style cocktail hour with no chairs/tables etc to sit at.  What time to guests go through to the reception area to sit down? Could you start cocktail hour at 5.30, open the doors to the reception area at 6.30 and then make your grand entrance just prior to 7pm once people have sat and settled themselves. I;m assuming invitaitons have already gone out though with times on them so I don’t think there is much you can do now anyway? I do think that 3 hours for photos is slight overkill unless you really like having photos taken. We will have just ove over an hour fifteen for pics (ceremony and reception at same place, our photos take place during the guests cocktail hour) and that is enough according to photogs I spoke too.

    Post # 11
    1064 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2016

    i would love a 2 hr cocktail hour

    Post # 12
    1822 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2013 - Pavilion overlooking golf course scenery, reception at banquet hall

    I know if I had 2 hours worth of cocktail food in front of me, I would not be able to eat dinner. I snack when I’m bored, and 2 hours is really long if I don’t know many people there so I’d def entertain myself by snacking.

    3 hours is a *really* long time for pictures! We only did 30 min of photos pre-wedding for the women, and then she went off to take 30 min of pre-wedding photos for the men. Then we only had 30 min of group photos after the ceremony – that’s 1.5 hours, and our photo package (including getting ready, ceremony, portraits, and reception) was over 1,000 photos.

    Post # 13
    10219 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: December 2012

    I VOTED – Cocktails at 5 PM – Dinner at 6 PM – You arrive at 5 PM

    Another words…

    • A 1 Hour Cocktail Hour
    • And a shorter Photo Shoot

    In reality, you already have a gap to deal with that is an inconvenience to your Guests (altho I very much get it is the “Catholic Gap” and so unavoidable)

    As someone else said the Photo Shoot is too long.  You will find it exhausting… Smile, smile, smile… can really wear on you !!  Your face literally begins to ache, and you’ll become bored (which makes for not so great photos as the time goes on).  PLUS in the end you’ll be overwhelmed looking at Photos !!  And figuring out how to pay for them.  I would say with a good Photographer as it is you’ll be getting somewhere in the range of 50 Pics per half-hour of shooting (these are workable / good shots… not the dozens & dozens they ultimately are shooting)

    If your Wedding Ceremony is 30 Minutes, there will be at least 50 Photos

    A Wedding Shoot during the Gap means 200 more Photos (3 Hours = 300)

    Then there will do doubt be oodles of pics taken at the Reception.

    I mean seriously… how many pics do you want to buy ???  Can afford ???  Stuff to think about.

    Also another Bee mentioned good food & drink for the Cocktail Hour.

    IMO for a Wedding situation where you are following up with a Sit Down Dinner, 1 hour is plenty for the Cocktail Hour… 90 minutes at the most

    Because in reality… if you run too long, then people start to get tipsy… and also eat too much.

    When it comes to Dinner if someone is tipsy, or has eaten too much during the Cocktail Hour BOTH of those can set up a situation where they aren’t going to eat much during Dinner.

    And that is a HUGE SHAME… all that good food & expense going to waste !!

    That isn’t what I would want if I was the one paying the bills… knowing that the $ 50, $ 100+ Meals were going to waste !!

    Hope this helps,


    Post # 15
    10219 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: December 2012

    TO @HourThyme:  sounds like an excellent plan !!

    Lol even more so, because you are back in charge of things again.


    Post # 16
    1416 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: April 2015

    I’m ok with a two hour cocktail hour as long as the cocktail immediately follows the ceremony. But if you have a gap between 2:30pm and 5pm, then a two hour cocktail hour is excessive in my opinion. You could miss half a hour of the cocktail hour and still get three hours of pictures in in the meantime.

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