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What kind of music do you play at a cocktail hour wedding?

A cocktail hour is an important part of a wedding reception as it provides an opportunity for guests to interact and enjoy a drink before the formal reception. Music plays a significant role in setting the tone for the cocktail hour. It helps to create a relaxed and lively atmosphere that guests can enjoy. But what kind of music should you play at a cocktail hour? In this blog post, we’ll explore the type of music that is most suitable for a cocktail hour wedding.

The Importance of Music in a Wedding

Music is an integral component of a wedding, and it plays a vital role in creating a memorable experience for guests. The right choice of music can enhance the ambiance and mood of a wedding ceremony and reception. A well-curated playlist can help to create an unforgettable event that guests will talk about for years to come.

When it comes to music for a cocktail hour, you need to choose tunes that are subtle, yet engaging. Cocktail hour music should not be too loud or distracting, nor should it be too mellow or unobtrusive. The music should be a subtle backdrop that enhances the overall ambiance of the event.

Big Band and Jazz Music

One of the most popular genres of music for cocktail hours is Big Band and jazz. This type of music has been a staple of cocktail hour music for many years, and for good reason. Big band and jazz music are versatile, upbeat, and sophisticated, making it an ideal choice for a cocktail hour.

Big Band music typically features a group of musicians that specialize in playing swing music from the 1930s and 1940s. The sound of a Big Band is unmistakable, with its combination of brass, percussion, and vocals. Songs such as “In The Mood” and “Moonlight Serenade” are perfect examples of timeless classics that you can play during a cocktail hour.

Jazz music, on the other hand, is a genre that has a range of sub-genres such as traditional jazz, smooth jazz, and contemporary jazz. Jazz music is famous for its improvisation and its ability to create an atmosphere of sophistication and elegance. Songs like “Take The A Train” and “Fly Me To The Moon” are some of the most popular jazz tunes that you can play at a cocktail hour.

Classical Music

If you are looking for something sophisticated and elegant, classical music is an excellent option for a cocktail hour. Classical music has a range of sub-genres, including Baroque, Romantic, and Classical periods. The music is perfect for a more formal cocktail hour, where guests are dressed up in their finest attire.

Classical music is characterized by compositions written by famous composers such as Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart. The melodies of these composers are timeless and never go out of style. Songs such as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Canon In D,” and “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” are excellent examples of music that you can use to create a sophisticated ambiance for your cocktail hour.

Contemporary Music

For a more contemporary and modern crowd, contemporary music is a great option. This genre includes pop, rock, and even R&B. The music is more upbeat and energetic, making it ideal for a lively cocktail hour.

The trick with contemporary music is to choose songs that are well-known, but not too loud or distracting. You want music that is familiar to your guests, but not overpowering. Songs such as “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey, and “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston are just a few examples of songs that you can use to create a modern and contemporary cocktail hour.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, choosing the right music for your cocktail hour is essential in creating a memorable experience for your guests. It’s important to choose music that suits the mood and atmosphere of your wedding reception. Whether you decide to go with Big Band and jazz, classical, or contemporary music, remember to keep the volume at an appropriate level, so your guests can enjoy their conversations.

Remember, when all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask your DJ, music band or wedding planner for recommendations. With their expert knowledge of music and weddings, they are sure to have some ideas that will make your cocktail hour a hit.


What type of music is best for cocktail hour?

Cocktail hour is an important part of the wedding reception, corporate event, or any other type of event in which guests have gathered to celebrate. During cocktail hour, guests can mingle with each other, enjoy the food and drinks, and relax before the main event begins. Music is a vital element of the cocktail hour as it sets the mood for the rest of the evening. Therefore, choosing the right type of music for your cocktail hour is essential as it can make all the difference in creating a wonderful atmosphere.

When it comes to selecting the perfect music for your cocktail hour, there are several things to consider. Depending on your event’s nature or theme, you may want to go for a specific genre. However, regardless of the style, some music pros suggest choosing instrumental songs (songs without lyrics) over music with lyrics. Instrumentals allow your guests to socialize and enjoy hors d’oeuvres without distraction. This is also a great time to play more classic favorites, jazz tunes, or songs that aren’t necessarily easy to dance to.

If you prefer live music, you can opt for jazz, acoustic guitar, or string quartet. These genres are perfect for creating a relaxed and elegant ambiance. Jazz music, in particular, is a popular choice for cocktail hour as it adds an element of sophistication and charm. It can range from upbeat and energetic to slow and mellow rhythms, depending on what you want your guests to experience.

In addition to jazz, you can also opt for classical music or even world music. Classical music is perfect for elegant and refined events as it has a timeless and sophisticated quality that can never go wrong. It also creates a serene and calming atmosphere, which is perfect if you want your guests to enjoy their drinks and conversation.

On the other hand, world music encompasses a wide variety of styles and beats from different cultures and regions around the world. This is an excellent choice if you want to offer your guests something unique and diverse. You can also hire a DJ who specializes in mixing different types of world music, creating an ambiance that takes your guests on a musical journey.

The type of music you choose for your cocktail hour ultimately depends on your event’s theme, preference, and style. Whether you opt for live musicians or a DJ, the key is to choose instrumental songs, songs without lyrics, or music with lyrics that does not overpower the ambiance. Choosing the right music for your cocktail hour can help set the perfect tone for the rest of your event.

Should there be music during cocktail hour?

When planning a wedding or any other event that involves a cocktail hour, one of the important questions to consider is whether or not there should be music during that time. While music can add a nice ambiance to the event, it’s important to choose the right type of music and make sure it doesn’t become too overpowering.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that cocktail hour is a time for guests to chat and catch up with one another. It’s not a time for a dance party or heavy music. If the music is too loud or too attention-grabbing, it can make it difficult for guests to hear one another or have a conversation.

That being said, having some type of background music can help set the mood and create a more festive atmosphere. A string quartet or strolling violinist can provide a nice touch without being too intrusive. Alternatively, an acoustic act can add a fun and laid-back vibe to the event.

It’s important to consider the overall theme and style of the event when choosing music for the cocktail hour. If it’s a formal event, classical or jazz music might be more appropriate, while a more casual event might work well with a bluegrass or folk band.

The key is to make sure the music enhances the event without dominating it. It should be a fun and lively addition to the atmosphere, but not the main focal point of the event. By carefully considering the type of music and how it will be presented, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable cocktail hour for all of your guests.

What is the style of cocktail music?

Cocktail music is a genre of music that is often associated with easy listening and lounge music genres. It emerged as a popular style of music in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. It is characterized by a blend of various styles that are often performed by small jazz ensembles or lounge bands. Some of these styles include exotica, space-age pop, and bossa nova.

Cocktail music is often played in upscale bars, restaurants, and hotels during happy hours or other social gatherings. The music is meant to be enjoyable and relaxing while not being too intrusive or obtrusive. It is generally considered to be background music that is meant to set the tone or ambiance of a social event without being the center of attention.

The instrumentation used in cocktail music typically includes a variety of instruments such as saxophones, trumpets, flutes, pianos, and other keyboard instruments. The music is often characterized by the use of lush arrangements, easy-to-listen-to melodies, and a relaxed tempo. The musicians playing the music are often skilled at improvisation, and they are able to create a sense of spontaneity and intimacy in their performances.

Cocktail music experienced a revival in the 1990s with the emergence of groups like Combustible Edison. This group was known for its blend of exotica, lounge, and jazz music that was infused with a sense of humor and playfulness. Other groups that emerged during this time included Pink Martini, and Stereolab.

Cocktail music is a unique genre of music that blends various styles such as exotica, space-age pop, and bossa nova to create a relaxed and enjoyable listening experience for those listening to it. It is often played in upscale establishments during happy hours or other social events and is meant to be background music that sets the tone or ambiance of the event without being too obtrusive. Its unique sound has made it a popular genre of music, with groups like Combustible Edison and Pink Martini leading the way in its revival.

What do wedding guests do during cocktail hour?

Wedding guests often look forward to the cocktail hour, which usually takes place after the ceremony and before the reception dinner. The cocktail hour serves as a transition period for the newly married couple, during which they usually take photos. For guests, it offers a chance to relax and socialize with family and friends they may not have seen for a while.

The cocktail hour typically lasts one to two hours, during which guests are usually treated to drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Signature cocktails are often served, such as the bride and groom’s favorite drinks or customized drinks based on the wedding’s theme. In addition, guests may be served a variety of wine, beer, or soft drinks, making it a great opportunity for socializing and mingling.

Food is another highlight of cocktail hour. Guests are often served a variety of hors d’oeuvres, which can include both hot and cold dishes. Finger foods such as mini quiches, sushi rolls, bruschetta served on crostini, and cheese and fruit platters are popular choices. Other options can include meat skewers, shrimp cocktails, and bacon-wrapped scallops. This is also a great time for guests to try new foods or share their thoughts on the dishes they’ve tasted.

During cocktail hour, music is often played to set the mood. The couple can choose to hire a live band or DJ, or they can opt for recorded music to be played through a sound system. The music can be upbeat and energizing, or it can be more instrumental and relaxed. The volume is usually low, making it easy for guests to socialize and catch up.

The cocktail hour is a fun and social time for wedding guests. It gives everyone a chance to catch up, eat some delicious food, and bond over drinks. Whether it’s a casual or more formal event, guests usually enjoy the opportunity to mingle before settling down for the reception dinner and dancing.