When planning the music for your wedding, you probably think of your first dance or even what you’ll walk down the aisle to. But what about cocktail hour music? This part of the wedding day can be so easily overlooked, but it’s crucial to keeping the energy flowing. As a DJ and Wedding Planner with 15+ years of experience, we’ve seen a lot of cocktail hours. So, we’re here to tell you what works best during this unique period of your wedding day. 

What is Cocktail Hour?

Cocktail hour is the portion of your wedding that generally connects the Ceremony and the Reception. During this period, guests are served drinks and hors d’oeuvre and socialize amongst themselves. The couple may or may not choose to attend this portion of the day. (They’re often taking their portraits with the photographer!)

Cocktail Hour Music Vendors

The vendor in charge of the music for your cocktail hour depends on who you have hired for the rest of your wedding day music. If you hire a DJ for your wedding, this will usually include cocktail hour music. Just be sure to check with your DJ that they have the equipment for DJing in a secondary space and that this is included in your package. If you hire live musicians for your ceremony (such as a string quartet), you may want them to also play during the cocktail hour. When booking your musicians, ask if they have a 2-hour package. This is the most common length we see for pre-ceremony music through the cocktail hour. 

The only music vendors we usually don’t see performing during cocktail hour are full bands. They need a large amount of equipment, and they need to set up and do soundcheck during this time. If you have hired a band, talk to them and your venue about any recommendations they may have for managing cocktail hour music. They may recommend bringing in an additional vendor or making your own playlist.

Best Types of Music for Cocktail Hour

Picture this: the ceremony is over, and you’re heading off to pictures. Your guests are walking into cocktail hour. What type of energy do you want the space to have? We always recommend romantic, upbeat songs for cocktail hour to keep energy up and get people ready to party. We call these “toe-tappy” songs. They’re songs your guests will want to bop along to but aren’t drawing them towards a non-existent dance floor. 

Some of our favorite cocktail hour music categories are Ratpack/Crooners (Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald), Country (Alan Jackson, Cody Johnson, Carrie Underwood), and Coffee Shop (Michael Buble, Lana Del Rey, Jason Miraz). Opt for songs you and your partner love but also fit the overall vibe of the venue and day!

The Wedding Duo Music Planner

Cocktail hour music may not be the star of the show, but it’s an important part of your day that deserves attention. If you’re still not confident in what music you want for this part of your big day, head over to The Wedding Duo Shop. You can snag our Music Planner, full of our favorite song suggestions and everything else you need to plan the music from start to finish on your wedding day! And if you want Dominic to take care of all your DJ needs, we’re available in person for weddings all over the world, so reach out!

Cocktail hour music guide

The Ultimate Guide to Cocktail Hour Music

Wedding planning tips


Grab your free wedding day checklist here!




After 10 years in the wedding business, we know what it takes to plan a wedding without overlooking any details. We’ll help you do the same.

Wedding advisors for the DIY couples

We're Serena & Dominic


Let's Get Social


Grab your free wedding day checklist here!

Download Your Free Guide!