Cocktail Hour.

If there’s one thing I’ve gleaned during my time within the wedding industry it’s that there’s much we can learn from our cousins across the water.

Sure enough, the Yanks have taken the simple wedding and raised it to an art form with so many different components that us traditional Brits don’t quite know where to put ourselves.

Whilst sometimes this can feel overwhelming, I actually think their ‘go big or go home’ attitude can be pretty exciting. ‘Why?’ I hear you ask. Because it forces us to rethink the parameters of what constitutes a ‘wedding’. Indeed, the modern day bride and groom possess an unprecedented amount of freedom in their wedding related decision-making.

When RMW exhibited at the National Wedding Show earlier this year, mums informed me time and time again that they’d never had this much choice when they were getting married. Their big day was almost pre-determined for them so they were thrilled that their daughters were experiencing a different reality – the chance to do things their way.

I fear I may have become a little philosophical for what essentially is just an inspiration post. You want the pretty don’t you….

Bear with me.

Essentially what I’m trying to say is try not to be intimidated by the amount of choice open to you. You don’t have to do everything. The beauty of having such choice is that you are free to choose what you want to incorporate into your big day.

For me, one of these things was the American-inspired ‘cocktail hour’. Admittedly in the end, for financial reasons, it just wasn’t to be but I so desperately wanted to include this into my big day.

Instead I’ve settled for sharing some ideas with you lovely lot in the hope that one of you will host a spirited soiree and I can live vicariously through you.

Party Tricks

Chic and sophisticated, the ‘cocktail hour’ is the perfect ‘filler’ between the end of the speeches and the beginning of the evening entertainment.

It signifies the end of the daytime activities and precludes the beginning of naughtier nighttime activity all under the guise of civilised fun. Plus it gives something for your guests to talk about too – what’s not to love?

Now every girl needs a pretty dress for a cocktail party.

Granted if you’re the bride then you’ll already be wearing a bobby-dazzler but seeing as it’s Christmas there’s bound to be a fair few of you looking for frocks for works parties and the like.

So we thought we’d spoil you by sharing some of our top picks and favourite cocktail dress images.

Which is your favourite?

Will you dare to bare or take the sophisticated covered up approach?

Deck The Halls

If you’ve decided that you are going to host a cocktail hour (lucky you!) then I’d really recommend going for it on the decor front. Not only does it help to set the scene for your guests thus enhancing their experience but it also signifies that the wedding schedule has moved on to the next stage. Remember, the cocktail hour should be an event in itself, not a bleary memory consigned to oblivion.

And there’s a plethora of inspiration out there to help you do this.

The obvious place to start is with the cocktails themselves. Adding glitzy swizzlers and straws or utilising unique containers such as these test tubes pictured here elevates the average cocktail to something a little bit special.

Whilst I couldn’t fulfill my cocktail hour fantasy I did ask my venue to provide champagne saucers rather than flutes at the champagne reception for more of a unique touch. The guests looked rather fabulous clutching their coupes and many commented that they felt that they were in an episode of Downton with such fantastic glasses.

Designing cocktail-focused paper pretty as part of your overall stationery suite is one way of really integrating the event into the overall wedding schedule. Think about designing bespoke drinks menus or even opting for coasters that double up as a wedding guestbook.

Equally paying attention to the overall decor of the area in which you’ve chosen to host your cocktail hour is a surefire way to make an impact. Covering high tables with gorgeous linen and topping them off with pretty florals, painting cocktail signs, and ordering monogrammed napkins are all economical ways of transforming a space into a designated cocktail venue.

Festive Spirit

Ok so this board is really just an assortment of delicious cocktails. But we all need something pretty to look at on a Tuesday afternoon.

I suppose the point I’m trying to convey here is that you can create cocktails that are absolutely in keeping with your wedding colour scheme.

Hosting an Autumn wedding? Why not serve berrylicious cocktails…

Perhaps you’re having summertime nuptials…provide your guests with something light and refreshing instead.

You could even opt for your a cocktail using your favourite flavours and ingredients such as Earl Grey tea or rose infusions.

If you’re really stuck for some cocktail inspired inspiration then you can rely on a RMW favourite which uses copious amounts of both gin and champagne…

A RMW Inspired Tipple

You Will Need:

2 shots of gin – we recommend Bloom London Dry Gin for its floral flavour
1 shot of sugar syrup
1 shot of lemon juice (preferably fresh)
a twist of lemon peel
ice cubes

Shake the lemon juice, sugar syrup and gin together with the ice cubes until chilled. Strain this lemony, gin goodness into a champagne flute and top up with champagne.

Add the lemon peel as a final touch. TA DA!!

Now drink!

So what do you think?

Do you feel under pressure to host the wedding of all weddings? Does the plethora of wedding inspiration out there motivate or terrify you?

Do you welcome the big day trends that filter across the big pond or shudder in horror?

Will you be hosting a cocktail hour on your big day? Perhaps you see this as a gratuitous waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere. If so, what features highly on your list of priorities?

Let us know your thoughts…

All my love Lolly xxx

Author: Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
Lolly is a self-professed frustrated florist and styling maven with an endless passion for all things pretty.

22 thoughts on “Cocktail Hour.

  1. That cocktail sounds amazing Lolly! It’s making me want to start our office festivities early…shame the bar downstairs is closed as term’s over!

    I love a lot of the ideas that have come over from the states, like the first look from this morning’s wedding, back garden weddings and of course the scrumptious sweet/dessert bar!

    I would love to incorporate a few more ideas, but you can’t have it all can you. Hopefully guests will like what we are doing!

  2. I would love a cocktail hour (make that a cocktail day!). Buy alas tis not to be. I think our free flowing champers is going to keep everyone busy spending our money as it is.
    I would really appreciate if anyone can recommend a company for me to hire 240 champange saucers from in the Leicestershire area. I can’t find anyone!
    Big love

  3. Eeeeeee we are planning on having a ‘cocktail hour’ of sorts – it will be before the dinner, once all the guests arrive after the church ceremony. As we are having our reception in a cocktail bar / restaurant (& because who doesn’t want cocktails) we thought it would be silly to not have some kind of cocktails served!

    I am already planning on the stripy straws and am loving the coaster idea. In fact this whole post is getting me rather excited about our plans! 😀

    Right, now to try this champagne cocktail 😉 xxx

  4. Love a good gin cocktail!

    We are doing it of sorts. Because we are having at the end of August in Scotland we are expecting glorious sunshine, Scorchio! So we are having frozen cocktails, made in slush puppie-esk machines, instead of a cocktail reception as people arrive at the venue. Then once they gain some Dutch courage they can make a start on the Highland Games.

  5. I have the crossed back ASOS dress in white mermaid sequins. An panic buy for a P-Diddy themed white party I threw this year and I LOVE it. Felt like a complete fox wearing it.

  6. You have no idea how much I want one of these right now, doesn’t matter which, any will do (although if I HAD to choose I would have the same as @Laura – I totally knew what you meant!)

    We’re having reception drinks after the ceremony, which will be cocktails so I guess that counts 🙂 plus my colourful array of straws arrived last week and I got tres excited!! I’m also now considering having the glasses served in drawers a la the picture above – does anyone have any disused drawers they could give me hnmmm?


  7. @Kitty what? You’re telling me you don’t have a drinks drawer in your work desk? You know, one that you keep under lock and key complete with a cocktail shaker and martini glasses? Good grief woman what is the world coming to?!

    @LynseyB You have? Oh I’m so jealous! I’m toying with the idea of buying the dress myself but I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to wear it – I’m going to a onesie New Years party. Yep you heard me a ONESIE party.

    @Stef slush puppy machines!!! That sounds immense.

    @Laura I’m not so sure I believe you…

    @Becca yes try the cocktail love – the more champagne the better…

  8. @Stef – A slush puppy machine?! A SLUSH PUPPY MACHINE?! that sounds so immense I might pass out.

    @LynseyB – A fox indeed, what a stunning dress (If only I didn’t have to wear what resembles a giant snow boot for the next 3 weeks…)

    I expect you to wear this over the festive period also!

    Charlotte xxx

  9. Our best man is a bar man so we’ve asked him to make us a bespoke his and hers wedding cocktail for everyone to enjoy. Was going to do it as part of the pre-dinner drinks reception but a cocktail hour is a great idea. We’re going to call them the NikNastardly and the DickDastardly (based on our names – Nikki and Dickie). Too much?!

  10. We’d always planned to have cocktails on our evening drinks menu – his and hers Mojito & Bellini, but I’m now inspired to elevate these to the status of dedicating a whole hour of the day in their name. Thanks RMW 🙂

  11. @Lolly I love a good onesie as much as the next slob but on NYE?! You need sequins girl – can this onesie be pimped in any way?

    @Charlotte It has cut outs at the waist and once I swapped my high waisted spanx for something a little more dental floss like, it was full on fox. Thinking about packing that bad boy for the Vegas part of the honeymoon!

  12. @Sputnikki it’s never too much! I hope you’re going to do much drink sampling before the big day – you want to make sure that they’re just right for your guests, don’t you?! 😉

    @Philippa Pleasure sweetheart!

    @Lynsey I’d like to point out that the onesie thing is NOT my idea and that I am being forcibly coerced into wearing one. I’m trying to get one with ears so I can be a sexy feline for the night. I am not having much luck…

    @Kitty no my dear that simply won’t do. We need to think about rectifying this situation in the new year…

  13. I’m now just about to email our venue to see if they have any champagne saucers knocking about! Love this shoot, it has brightened up a gloomy work day – and made me really want that long dark green frock – and a cocktail!
    @Lolly – OMG how long will the loo queue be at a onesie party?! Good luck and god speed!x

  14. Hello,

    I’m a bit late on the bandwagon for this post, but was going back through some things for inspiration…

    I’m getting married in September this year, so just out of the oct-feb you asked to answer questions, but they struck a chord with me…
    I LOVE the cocktail hour, and we’re hopefully planning one to have after the speeches, for the people that are coming for the evening of our reception. But I do feel a huuuge amount of pressure to be hostess to the mother of all weddings and to have every little tweak so very “us”. So every time I start looking at inspiration I get a heady mix of both fear and excitement at what we (I) would like to achieve for the day for our guests, and what will be possible, as we’re doing a very DIY number on all things wedding. It begins to make me feel a little weak… The inspiration from across the pond and across the world is amazing. And its great to see little bits and pieces you can incorporate into your day, or traditions from diffferent places.
    Priorities for our day – photography is a massive one. The’re the person who’ll be spending the most time with us on the day, and capturing all the looks and moments which I dont ever want to forget. They’ll probably capture some of the moments I might miss, so they have to be ace. The little things for guests is important to me, entertainment, cocktails,treats… things which are all a way of saying thank you to them for taking time to come and be with us to celebrate getting married. The details, the things that are “us” – making sure we don’t get too swept away with all the visual inspiration and honing it down in to something that really reflects what we love – I think this sounds easier than it is… how do you filter out everything you love, to keep it to the things your REALLY love, rather than ending up with a huge mishmash?
    And cocktails, well I think ours will be a slightly scaled down punch cocktail to keep costs a bit lower, but I’m sure we can make it tasty either way either way. So here goes, we’re tackling this planning thing head on…xx

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