Suggestions for Music During Your Cocktail Hour

Suggestions for Music During Your Cocktail Hour
The food shouldn't be the only thing your guests notice during cocktail hour
The food shouldn’t be the only thing your guests notice during cocktail hour

I saw Jon Taffer (he of Bar Rescue fame) speak to a roomful of DJs recently.  His topic was the importance of music and at one point he said, “there is no such thing as background music.  There is lower volume music, but never background music.”  As a DJ who feels every song I play is important and should be well thought out, I stood up and cheered (and I was not alone.)

The music that is played during your cocktail hour is important.  It should set the tone for a fun evening and should begin the personalization of the sound track for your reception (to match your specific tastes).  So when you sit down to talk about music with your DJ, cocktail hour should come up and we hope you have some input and opinions on the subject.

We want to personalize the music so if there's an artist you love (like Dave Matthews) let us know and we'll work some in during cocktail hour
We want to personalize your music so if there’s an artist you love (like Dave Matthews) let us know and we’ll work some in during cocktail hour

Ideally, the music we play during cocktail hour will be a good mix of mid-tempo to upbeat songs.  We’d like to see your guests snapping their fingers or tapping their toes. So, for example, if you want a Beatles song we’d suggest “She Loves You” over “Yesterday.”  If you love Dave Matthews we’d rather play “Crush” than “Crash.”  And if you’re going back as far as Sinatra, think “Fly Me to the Moon” instead of a snoozer like “Night and Day.”

The lounge feel is very in these days too so if you’d like some down-tempo electronica we can certainly play a good assortment of ambient chill music for your cocktail hour.

While we’d rather play something with a good beat, we also hate to waste a good dance song during cocktail hour.  As Taffer points out, this is “lower volume music” so no one will be dancing.  So if you like Bruno Mars, we’d recommend playing “Marry You” during cocktail hour and saving “Uptown Funk” for the upbeat dancing later on.

Cocktail hour is also a great time to play to a theme.  If you’re having a beach themed wedding we can incorporate a lot of Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett (we also have a great selection of steel drum songs).  If you’re doing a “Great Gatsby” theme there is plenty of Roaring Twenties Jazz we can offer.  And if you’re around the Holidays and want to acknowledge them, we can sprinkle in songs like “Let it Snow” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Volume during cocktail hour is an important balance.  We try to set it loud enough that people can hear what’s being played but low enough that your guests aren’t shouting over the music.  We may tweak the volume as your room fills up and the conversation gets louder and louder.

If you’ve booked a 5 hour package at your banquet hall, cocktail hour is 20% of that time.  And as the person providing your music, we like to put some thought into that initial hour.  We’d love the chance to personalize it for you so whatever your favorite artists and genres are, we can find some songs with the appropriate tempo and work them in.  It’s all a part of the overall soundtrack for your day, and we want to make it perfect.


Here are some beautiful images of cocktails hours captured by our sister company Elite Digital Images

The deck at The English Manor is a beautiful spot for an outdoor cocktail hour
A stunning shrimp display with beach decorations at The Sterling Ballroom at The Double Tree in Tinton Falls


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The English Manor takes their fresh fruit display to a whole other level
A stunning ice sculpture at The Crystal Point
Great food with a beautiful lakeside view – only at The Mill in Spring Lake


Cocktail hour with a Holiday flair at The South Gate Manor in Freehold


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