Welcome to the fifth post in The Casual Gourmet’s series of tips for newly engaged brides. You can view all the tips (once published) here or learn more about the author, Olive Chase (THE Cape Cod wedding expert) here. Check back often for more tips!

Forty percent of a typical wedding budget is allocated to food. The food you you serve deserves plenty of attention and careful planning as such, we will devout a few posts to each aspect of wedding food (after all, we are caterers!). I think its only fitting that we begin at the beginning, the cocktail hour!

Many couples have confided in me that the cocktail hour was their favorite part of their wedding. Unfortunately some couples (and bridal parties) miss the cocktail hour as they are off having their formal photos taken. Make sure you talk to your photographer ahead of time and discuss the timing.

Some photographers off a “First Look” that takes place before the wedding where the bride and groom sneak off to take some photos together in their formal dress. This allows for the couple to enjoy the reception worry free of capturing those formal memories. With this option, you can consider a slightly shorter (45mins to an hour) cocktail hour.

If you decide on not to do the “First Look” then a standard time frame for a cocktail hour is between an hour to hour and a half. This allows your guests plenty of time to arrive at the reception site if it’s at a different location than the ceremony and also gives some extra timing for the bride and groom to get in the extra pictures after the ceremony.

As with all the other parts of the wedding the cocktail hour should be what you envision it to be. When you pull up to your cocktail reception do you see servers with passed hors d’oeuvres or do you see a beautiful vintage cheese display (see right)?

Many couples come to Cape Cod to enjoy the fresh seafood and the beautiful views, these are the couples that typically opt to have a Raw Bar during their cocktail hour. Here is a  great example of the Raw Bar displayed in a beautiful boat at an event (see right).

You know who your guests are, would something like a raw bar be something they would enjoy?