(Closed) How big is cocktail hour for a normal wedding in your area?

posted 5 years ago in Food
  • poll: Are big cocktail hours normal for your region? And would you miss it if it wasn't there?
    We usually go big for cocktail hour with many different stations, often with attendants : (3 votes)
    6 %
    Cocktail hour usually includes passed hors d'oeuvres and maybe some buffet type options : (8 votes)
    15 %
    Cocktail hour usually includes passed hors d'oeuvres and not much else : (16 votes)
    31 %
    Cocktail hour isn't really a thing here : (7 votes)
    13 %
    I would miss my big ass cocktail hour : (2 votes)
    4 %
    I would be happy with any form of cocktail hour : (13 votes)
    25 %
    I think cocktail hours are silly anyway : (3 votes)
    6 %
    Other, please explain : (0 votes)
  • Post # 3
    9954 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: December 2012

    Etiquette Snob here… lol

    Ok just to set your mind at ease… a Reception can take a lot of different forms… a Cocktail Party (or a Fancy one) is NOT a requirement

    That said, most of the Weddings I’ve gone to here in Quebec & Ontario have one… but they tend to be about 1 to 1-1/2 Hours long… and serve up some light refreshments.

    Spiked Punch – Signature Cocktails – Complimentary Bar Drinks are the usual… accompanied by either Passed Hors d’ouevres or some trays of food on the lighter side (Cheese Trays – Veggie Trays – Fruit Trays)

    We tend to save the heavier stuff for the actual meal… which can be a Buffet, or a multi-course Sit-Down

    I’ve seen the types of Cocktail Parties you are referring to on Tv (4 Weddings USA) and altho they look GORGEOUS with all their choices… unless it is the ONLY Food option… Heavy Hors d’ouevres… I do say, it seems rather wasteful.

    Because, by the time people get around to sitting down to the main event, the meal… they are either already stuffed with all the goodies… OR quite tipsy.  Both of which will impede their appetite.

    So it seems a waste.  More for show than anything else if you ask me.  I’d hate to think about paying out tons of money for a Full Meal and then see sooo much of it end up in the trash (left on people’s plates) … or not ate whatsoever.

    I am sure if your Fiancé’s family is from somewhere that this isn’t the norm, they sure as heck aren’t going to miss it.

    So it’ll come down to considering your own Family, local customs, etc (and cost)… on what route you decide to go.

    Hope this helps,


    Post # 4
    1162 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2014

    @MsLabRat:  Ive never actually seen a cocktail hour be done here, but I know a few have them because my venue suggested it. Here, the norm is from 30-45 minutes, drinks on the patio with your basic (every function sort) of nibbles or none at all. Some do a few hors d’ouvres, but not many and we are having them as our main meal so that’s a nono for us 😛

    I live in Western Victoria down here in Australia though so take me with a grain of salt 😉

    As for what I would like as a guest? Up to 45 minues just give me some cheese and crackers and Ill wait for tea. If you’ve had a relatively large gap or a lot of travel, feed them something slightly more substantial because chances are they haven’t stopped for maccas on the way! And for those that go 1-1.5 hours which I see on here sometimes, please feed me decent food! Thats a long time if you were already hungry before, and they have come from your ceremony so whats the chance that some haven’t eaten?

    So it takes a bit more info I think. Figure out how long it will have been since your gests had food last and how long it will be between cocktail hour and the meal, and keep in mind very hot weather = less munchies than cold weather!


    ETA: I don’t think a cocktail hour that big is EVER necessary. That’s a whole meal if you wanted it to be! besides expensive and yes, wasteful :/

    Post # 5
    11747 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    @MsLabRat:  I love a NY/NJ cocktail hour! It’s ALWAYS better than the plated meal! It’s what I look forward to most when we go to NY/NJ weddings, bat mitzvahs, etc.  That being said, that level of cocktail hour is definitely not necessary when you’re also serving a full plated meal.

    Post # 6
    2488 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: October 2012

     I have never attended a wedding with one in my area to be honest… but I live in… a whole different universe sometimes haha.

    Post # 7
    831 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2013

    Huge. Honestly I would miss it. It’s what I am accustomed to, and I enjoy it. But I wouldn’t be OFFENDED. I’ve been to smaller cocktial hours upstate before and it was fine. If your guests are actually offended by a scaled down cocktal hour then that’s their problem not your’s.

    Just a note, these are appetizers that we are talking about. The huge spread is all about offering a variety of different tastes. The intention is not for your guests to eat so much that they can’t eat dinner, it’s to offer something for everyone.  I usually load up a small plate of a few items that look most interesting and I always have room for dinner.

    Also, as far as waste goes, professional caterers have this down to a science based on the number of guests and experience. They are also in business to make money – they aren’t going to willingly throw away thousands of dollars of food at every event they cater.  They know how much to put out, and often replenish stations on an as needed basis.

    Do what YOU want to do!

    Post # 8
    1162 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2014

    Posted twice somehow…

    Post # 9
    8483 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper
    • Wedding: April 2014

    I have no idea. I had never heard of cocktail hours before I started watching Four Weddings.

    Post # 10
    12247 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: May 2013

    Every wedding I have ever been to in Western NY has had a “cocktail hour” where NO food and NO booze were served! So it’s an hour of torture waiting for the couple to arrive so you can wait ANOTHER hour to get food. Not a fan!

    Post # 11
    211 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: May 2015

    Cocktail hours are just kinda becoming the norm in the area but are just normally cocktails and a few light nibbles. If you are doing a complete plated dinner that will provide enough food you can get away with a lighter cocktail hour. I went to one wedding and the cocktail hour was out of control with everything and we could hardly even think of eating the meal afterwards.

    Post # 12
    10287 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper

    Heavy cocktail hours with stations followed by a full plated, multi course, served to the table dinner are VERY common in my area.   It’s all about “choices” apparently and people do not necessarily stuff themselves silly.  Sadly, though,  and I think it’s entirely inappropriate, if there is a reception that happens to feature a more modest spread, or people travel out of the  area, you will often hear people talk about it later. The following is only a slight exaggeration: 

    Affair #1 with tons of stations:  What a great wedding.  Could you believe all the food?!

    Affair #2 with plentiful passed hor d’oerves:  It was a nice wedding, but they starved us! 

    Prices are more competitive in our area, in part because of the demand for this kind of affair. The same catering menu might  be nearly double elsewhere.

    Post # 13
    1671 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2014 - Church

    @MsLabRat:  As This Time Round said we usually have an hour cocktail hour with passed canapes (at least). I have only been to one with stations. We also usually have at least a welcome cocktail for everyone. Then dinner after. Canapes are really just small bites to tide you over until dinner and dinner is heavy with a starter, main, and dessert (at least). There’s usually things like mini sliders, stuffed mushroom caps, little spring rolls, etc. I think that they are nice to have because it lets people mingle and enjoy some food. Couldn’t imagine one without food.

    @BrandNewBride:  That sucks. I think that is so rude 😛 Never heard of a cocktail hour like that!

    ETA: I wouldn’t mind if there weren’t one but … it would feel kinda weird!

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