When invited to a wedding as either a member of the bridal party or simply a guest, there are plenty of details to go around. If you’re single, there’s the question of a date. If you’re a member of the bridal party, there’s the fittings and gatherings and gifts, perhaps a speech, or a stress-inducing Dance Moment. Even a guest has to worry about what to wear, what to buy as a gift, the sleeping arrangements, whether ‘The Robot’ has come back into style yet. One thing no one considers, however, is dinner.
If you think that since your attendance at the reception includes a meal dinner is solved, think again. There are numerous other things to worry over. One, any reception worth going to starts with cocktails, and if you’ve been sweltering away in an ill-fitting suit or tuxedo for the last few hours you’re more than likely drinking on an empty stomach. Two, reception dinners may vary in quality and appeal, but even the best reception meal you’ve ever seen is going to arrive at your table lukewarm and inconsistently seasoned, and God help you if you have a custom order. Finally, dinner arrives in the middle of the reception for some reason, completely destroying the flow of the evening. If you went to a club or a great party, would you pause after two hours, return glumly to your table, and consume half a pound of prime rib, only to return to the dance floor bloated and sweating freely? Of course you wouldn’t.
On the other hand, you can’t spend your evening drinking, dancing, and photobombing the other tables without eating something. The answer is right in front of you: The Cocktail Hour.
Cocktail Hours vary, of course. I’ve been to cocktail hours with more food than a Jersey Diner, and I’ve been to cocktail hours where you have to hunt the waiters like a Terminator in order to get a handful of cheese puffs. In either scenario, the Cocktail Hour is where you can eat some delicious grub before you’re too drunk and/or exhausted from doing The Robot to think straight. Grab a drink and get in line for that carving station, start stalking the waiters, and sample those Swedish Meatballs. This way, by the time you have a tiny numbered card in your hand and you’re searching for your table, you’re already sated. It’s ideal because you then spend some time sitting, making your introductions, and digesting. By the time everyone is invited to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, you’re ready to spend the next few hours celebrating instead of struggling to identify the vegetables on your plate.
Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that most people don’t follow this advice, so be wary of being the only person on the dance floor while every other guest is eating dinner. If you suddenly look up and everyone is staring in horror as you do The Robot, solo, it might be time to go take a breather.