The cocktail hour is generally a time for guests to convene after the ceremony for a while, so that the wedding party can take photos and the reception area can be set up.

Though a traditional cocktail hour usually consists of drinks (of course) and light snacks, along with a little background music to keep everyone entertained, there are all sorts of ways to spice things up and really make it your own. Try one of these unique ideas for your wedding cocktail hour:

Mini cocktails

Instead of a couple of full-sized drinks, offer guests a wide array of miniature cocktails. Fill shot or shooter glasses with several choices of cocktails for all sorts of tastes – chocolatey, fruity, sharp, etc – and offer a different snack to go with each.

I recommend serving a Rattlesnake (a layered shot of Baileys Irish Cream, dark creme de cacao, and Kahlua), a Cosmopolitan, and a classic gin or vodka and tonic. These miniature cocktails will be a smash hit and allow guests to enjoy a nice variety of drinks without going totally crazy.

Karaoke cocktail hour

If your wedding is fairly casual and you want to really make the cocktail hour stand out, set up a karaoke machine and let your guests go to town! It can be a fun icebreaker if not many of your guests know each other, and will definitely be a memory-maker.

Make the food amazing

Who says the food at the cocktail hour has to just be cheese and crackers (not that there is anything wrong with that)? Serve something a little special, like sushi or tapas. If you do want to do the classic cheese and crackers, add a little flair to it: baked Brie with a pomegranate chutney on top, mozzarella slices wrapped in prosciutto, pear and blue cheese tartines, and Boursin with fig jam on slices of baguette all make for a lot of variety and a lot of deliciousness!

Set the tone

The wedding ceremony does not necessarily incorporate the overall theme, so the cocktail hour is the time to introduce it. Find ways through decor, food, drink, and music to begin pulling your wedding theme into the foreground. For instance, for a tropical-themed wedding, serve Mai Tais and fresh, exotic fruit at the cocktail hour. A wedding themed to something like “Pride and Prejudice” could serve champagne and play Regency-era music in the background. Be subtle(ish) and have fun!