The cocktail hour traditionally occurs between the ceremony and reception. It allows the bride and groom to get some photo time in while allowing the guests to mingle and catch up with friends and family they may not have seen in a while.
For the cocktail hour, beverages and hors d’oeuvres are served. The drinks can be alcoholic or non, and can be served from a host bar, or simply include two or three cocktail choices that are butler passed (champagne, a signature cocktail, etc). Hor d’oeuvres can be served at mini food stations or also butler passed.
Seating at a cocktail hour is a little less formal than the dinner portion of your reception. it can include a mix of bistro tables that people can stand at, a few tables with seats for some of your older guests, and even some stylish lounge areas created out of banquettes and other furniture either rented or provided by the venue.