Cocktail Hour Music

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After the ceremony is over it’s on to the cocktail hour for your guests while the bride, groom, and bridal party take pictures.

Usually, whatever musician you hire for the cocktail hour will play whatever is in their repertoire. Any experienced wedding musician knows well enough to keep the cocktail hour upbeat.

Matthew Lister Wedding Guitarist

You usually don’t request songs for the cocktail hour, but you can if you feel strongly about it. Just remember what any professional musician knows: Go for upbeat. Your guests don’t want to hear downtempo, depressing music while they’re trying to get a drink.

Don’t go over the top either, everybody’s trying to relax. Save the crazy stuff for the dancing during the reception!

Here’s some sensible cocktail hour music, separated by genre. These are just a few examples because the list could go on forever and the type of music you want is really up to you. Just remember: Keep it upbeat.Cocktail Hour Music


Nothing like no-nonsense rock n’ roll to get your guests in the mood for a party. Classics like “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet or “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison are great for the older generation but more recent hits like “Always Alright” by Alabama Shakes or Artic Monkey’s “R U Mine” might appeal to a younger generation.

Jazz Standards

If you want a party but want to keep it classy you might want to hire a jazz musician. Classics like “It Had To Be You” by Gus Kahn and Isham Jones, “The Girl from Ipanema” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and “How High The Moon” by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis can add a touch of class while still getting your guests in the mood for a party.


Is your family Irish? It doesn’t matter! The cocktail hour is about drinking, right? What could be better than Celtic or traditional Irish music? Any good jig, hornpipe or reel will do. Celtic musicians usually have quite the impressive set list. Do they know classics like “Drowsy Maggie,” “Cooley’s Reel,” “The Irish Washerwoman,” and “Murphy’s Hornpipe”? Of course they do, and quite a few more toe tapping favorites to get your guests in the mood for the festivities.


Speaking of drinking music, you can’t go wrong with blues. Uptempo classics like “Boom Boom” by John Lee Hooker, “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” by George Thorogood, or “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett will definitely work well with the cocktail hour. You can also go with more contemporary blues hits for a younger crowd. More recent tunes like “Ball and Biscuit” by The White Stripes or “Gold On The Ceiling” by The Black Keys will work with a younger crowd.


Could there be a more upbeat genre than pop? You can go with a recent classic like “Happy” by Pharrell Williams or “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic will go over well, but don’t neglect classics like “Dancing on the Ceiling” by Lionel Ritchie or “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder if you have an older crowd.


Are your guests more into country? Country is known for not shying away from depressing subject matter, so remember to keep it upbeat. Opt out of soul-crushingly depressing tunes like “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood and go for party tunes like “Sure Be Cool If You Did” by Blake Shelton and “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith instead.

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