You said I do, smooched in front of everyone you care about, ran down the aisle and now [cue scary music]
its Cocktail Hour...
...sixty minutes that somehow has become the catch all for wedding day photos.
After watching the frustration show on the faces of so many of our brides we knew there had to be a better way to structure the wedding day. Cramming everything into an hour didn’t feel good.
Here are 7 reasons why the traditional cocktail hour needs a makeover:
- It interrupts the joyful celebration that just happens naturally post-ceremony. Cocktail hour photos force the hugs and conversation between you and your family and friends to stop.
- The expectations of what should be done in that time are just plain unrealistic. The “hour” often feels rushed and uncomfortable.
- Guests get to eat, drink and chat while the couple is checking off their photo to-do list.
- Family is distracted and restless after the ceremony, often wondering off before and during family photos. This results in photos taking longer than necessary and everyone else (especially you and your spouse) waiting for lost family members to return.
- A photo dumping ground shouldn't exist on a wedding day. The process of photos (whether formals, portraiture or candids) shouldn't be drudgery. It should be fun.
- The bride/groom don’t get to eat until dinner time (which is often about 90 minutes after the ceremony).
- Finally, it is an outdated answer to the question of "when to do formal photos?" The need for formals still exists, but there are better ways of achieving the same thing!
So, what can you do about it? So easy…build a first look into your wedding day and get all the formal photos done before your ceremony! (Aren’t convinced about a first look? It's ok. We weren't either when we got married.
Are we “anti-tradition”? No way! We are anti-rush and anti-stress. Constantly observing and learning from every wedding, the difference in the flow and vibe of the day is undeniable.
A bit of context. We did not do a first look on our wedding day. I confess I was the passionate advocate for a traditional first view of me down the aisle. But I did plan in 3 hours (yes, you read that right-THREE HOURS) in between our ceremony and reception for photos. This gave us a really chill afternoon and the time to create the imagery I had in my mind for us and our bridal party. We went to Starbucks for drinks and drive through photos, Harding Memorial for drama, rowed a boat to the center of the pond and walked around the water with paper umbrellas. We had fun with our friends and family during that time. (Our guests didn't mind and many used the time for lunch and an afternoon nap at home. Then joined us for the evening party refreshed and refueled.)
That feeling of not being rushed, enjoying the moment, and creating photos that we are still obsessed with has fueled our passion for finding what does that for our couples. And a big part of that had to do with the personality of Amy, our wedding photographer. She fully supported my unconventional desire for a three hour photo break!
Of course now we approach weddings with wayyyyyy more experience than we did in June of 2009. But we have always seen a traditional wedding day timeline differently because our wedding was "different"...and fabulous, and unforgettable ;) The resulting feeling from our wedding day has persisted through all the ebbs and flows of our marriage. We want to give that amazing, still-hasn't-worn-off feeling to our brides and grooms.
When assisting our couples plan their wedding day timelines, planning for the cocktail hour always felt unnatural...but we couldn't quite articulate why up until recently. You deserve to look back on your wedding in 10+ years and still agree it was the best day ever too! We would be doing you a disservice if we didn't share this insight with you.
So, here are 7 reasons why you deserve to take your cocktail hour back:
- You choose how you want to spend the hour - socializing? Sure! Snuggling? Definitely! Creating beautiful imagery together? Totally!
- You aren’t rushing from your ceremony into a checklist. Instead you are intentionally planning what will give you the most joy right after pledging your lives to one another.
- You can ride the emotional high after saying “I do” for the rest of the day (no stopping to take obligatory formals).
- You and your loved ones can enjoy the process of taking formal photos! Remove the allure of the open bar and the scent of delicious food wafting into the air and there are no distractions to take you away from the moment. You can enjoy each others company, let grandma take her time floofing your train every 5 minutes, and laugh at the dad jokes flying from the dads and uncles.
- If you choose to join in cocktail hour, the pressure to forgo dinner and greet your all guests is removed. You can eat your dinner!
- No gulping down your beverage in between photos or longingly eyeballing your aunt’s appetizer plate post-ceremony. Grab your drink and pop those appetizers in while basking in the joy of the people you love.
- Lastly, wedding days have changed a ton and are continuing to transform in the best way possible! The focus has become about the needs and desires of the couple, creating memories you two actually want to create on your wedding day…rather than mimicking what everyone else is doing or fitting into a social norm.
Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the company of your loved ones while having your signature drink in your hand & casually munching on your handpicked appetizers?
Or, if you would rather have a quiet conversation with your new spouse, why not sneak away to a private space, enjoy some food and drinks together in a relaxed environment?
Maybe a combination of creating some beautiful imagery together and then joining your guests for the second half of cocktail hour is more your style.
No matter how you choose to fill your cocktail hour, we are all for CHOOSING. And choosing with all the info you need to make the best choice for the both of you. The days of following Martha Stewart’s wedding day planner word for word has passed (thankfully!!). [cue upbeat music] Enter the days full of freedom to enjoy all the moments on your wedding day...and being able to look back on the photos from your day and relive every perfect minute!