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Cocktails with a Side of Ceremony

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If you want your guests to have a memorable time from the moment they arrive, consider following the lead of more and more modern couples who are opting to get the party started pre-ceremony.

To set the right tone, Yolanda Crous, features and travel director for Brides magazine, recommends creating a special playlist or hiring an instrumentalist (think guitarist or jazz trio) to play classical versions of your favorite tunes. Give guests something to look at like a slideshow or elaborate wedding program. Crous suggests including your love story, mini bios of your attendants, and background on your readings.

If you’re location is unique – museum, art gallery, zoo – Crous also advises arranging for mini tours. Added bonus: These pre-wedding activities are a fun conversation starter for guests who don’t know each other. Photo booths, the guest book and lawn games are good pre-ceremony activities, too.

It’s also nice to offer a little refreshment. Karine France-Matsumoto, owner of Honolulu-based Seasons of Life Events, recommends having servers pass signature cocktails and booze-free mocktails, and setting up a self-service beverage station with minted water and fruit tea. No need to go overboard on the food, but this is a perfect time for featuring regional bite-sized appetizers or the couple’s favorite snacks.

In addition, think about the weather. If it’s hot, France-Matsumoto suggests handing out chilled hand-towels, and Crous recommends providing paper fans, sunscreen and bug spray. If it’s cold, Crous says having space heaters and baskets of blankets or pashminas is smart.

Most importantly, you, the couple, should feel free to join in! The pre-ceremony party will give you even more time to chat with old friends or relatives who traveled from afar, notes France-Matsumoto, and connecting in a casual way can help calm jitters about being the center of attention. But it’s probably best if the newlyweds-to-be avoid the alcohol, Crous says: “You don’t want to slur your vows.”

© Brides 365

Tags: cocktail hour, pre-wedding parties