What is appropriate cocktail hour music? The cocktail hour is normally the time after the wedding ceremony when you are having your photographs taken and your guests are milling around having drinks and perhaps snacks while waiting for your arrival.
So it is your pre-reception music.
Whether you are hosting your cocktail hour at your ceremony venue, reception venue or at a nearby spot like a beach or park, having music to entertain your guests will always be welcome and will set the tone for the rest of the celebration.
While jazz and swing music generally work particularly well as pre reception music, the type of wedding music played during your cocktail hour will depend greatly on the mood you are trying to create, your venue, whether you are using live or recorded music, and your theme in some cases.
If you are having an ultra modern affair, or perhaps just a cocktail reception, then perhaps some lounge music will work very well. For a beach or summer theme, a live steel drum band will compliment the theme and mood nicely.
If you are having a very formal dinner reception, classical piano or even a solo sax will establish an atmosphere of elegance during cocktail hour.
Just keep in mind that your cocktail hour music should be in the background and should not overpower conversation, but it can be at a slightly higher volume than your background dinner music.
This is the time for your guests to mingle and get in the mood for the evening ahead. It is not necessary to have instrumental pre reception music unless that is what you prefer or if your wedding is very formal.
You can even ask your DJ to put together a selection of contemporary songs, old and new, that are not danceable and are easy on the ear. This can create a wonderful nostalgic mood for some of the older guests if hits from their youth are played, and the younger folk will be happy to hear some modern ballads as well.
If you are going for contemporary cocktail hour songs, then try and vary the genres to keep everyone happy and stick to songs with happy lyrics and a foot tapping beat (not dance hits, but not soppy love songs either)
Below is a list of some artists and songs to create different moods and themes for your wedding reception cocktail hour music playlist:
If Jazz is not really your thing and you want your cocktail hour music to be a little more personal and a little more varied, including songs from many genres, consider some of the following song suggestions:
1000 Miles - Vanessa Carlton
Ain't That A Kick On The Head - Dean Martin
Alright - Jamiroquai
Besame Mucho - Cesaria Evora
Better Together - Jack Johnson (from the Rhythms Del Mundo Cuba album)
Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows ft Vanessa Carlton
Blk Sonshine - Born In A Taxi!
Bubbly - Colby Caillat
By Your Side – Sade
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend
Chasing Pirates - Norah Jones
Clocks - Coldplay (from the Rhythms Del Mundo Cuba album)
Crazy Mama - J.J. Cale
Cruisin - D' Angelo
Dancing In The Moonlight - King Harvest
Dance Me To The End Of Love - Madeleine Peyroux
Don't Stop The Music - Jamie Cullum
Dream A Little Dream - The Beautiful South
Drops of Jupiter - Train
Escape (Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes
He Can Only Hold Her - Amy Winehouse
Hey Eugene - Pink Martini
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles
I Second That Emotion - Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
I’m Yours - Jason Mraz
Is This Love - Bob Marley
It Makes No Difference - My Morning Jacket
It's Love - Jill Scott J
oin Me in L.A. - Warren Zevon
Just My Imagination - The Temptations
Just The Way You Are - Bruno Mars
Kiss Is On My List - Hall & Oates
Kiss Me - Sixpence None The Richer
La Camisa Negra - Juanes
Letters - Watershed
L-O-V-E - Nat King Cole
Lost Without You - Robin Thicke
Love That Girl - Raphael Saadiq
Lowdown - Boz Scaggs
Luck Be A Lady - Frank Sinatra
Oh Josephine - Black Crowes
Oh! Lady Be Good - Count Basie
Peg - Steely Dan
Please Read the Letter - Robert Plant & Allison Kraus
Poison Pushy - Stanton Moore
Quando, Quando, Quando - Michael Buble & Nelly Furtado
Rise - Herb Alpert
Shine a Light - The Rolling Stones
Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
So Com Voce - Thievery Corporation
Sunday Mornings - Maroon 5
Sweetest Thing - U2
That’s Amore – Dean Martin
That's the Way of the World - Earth Wind & Fire
The Very Thought Of You - Billie Holiday
Two Bare Feet - Katie Melua
Two of Us - Aimee Mann & Michael Penn (from the I Am Sam soundtrack)
Watching the Wheels - Matisyahu
What a Fool Believes - The Doobie Brothers
You Are the Best Thing - Ray Lamontagne
The following is a YouTube playlist of the above song list for your cocktail hour music to give you an idea of what kind of mood will be created. The playlist below is actually just over 4 hours of music, so you can easily fine-tune it to your tastes.
If you are planning a themed wedding (think beach wedding, 1920's swing, African, Asian etc), then perhaps you want to add a few themed songs to your pre reception music mix as well. Have a look at some suggestions for Themed Cocktail Hour Music.