Do You Have to Have Cocktail Hour Music?

All your cocktail hour music questions, answered.
by The Knot
mariachi band
Jillian Mitchell Photography

Sure, the ceremony may be the most important part of the wedding—it’s when you finally say “I do”—but most guests are looking forward to a drink (or two) and some bites at the cocktail hour. You know the food and drinks will be amazing, but how do you create the right ambience? That’s where music comes in. Whether it’s setting a little bit of a different vibe (with a mariachi band after your traditional ceremony) or continuing the theme (a jazz quartet for a black-tie affair), music truly helps set the tone for the rest of the evening. Here are some ideas for cocktail hour music.

Hire Entertainment

If you have your heart set on an acoustic guitarist playing covers of your favorite rock ballads, cocktail hour is the perfect time to incorporate that element. While you may think it’s only background music, guests will appreciate having live music as they sip, snack and mingle. (No one wants a background of total silence.) The sky’s the limit here—think a string quartet, jazz singer or even a concert pianist. 

Extend Your Ceremony or Reception Musicians

One easy way to cross off this to-do is to have either your ceremony musicians or your reception DJ or band play during cocktail hour. Sure, you’ll have to pay them for the extra hours, but you’ve already vetted your choices and can trust they’ll perform well for cocktail hour too. Some bands will even let you hire just a few members for cocktail hour and the entire band for your reception.

Make a Playlist

Another option is for you and your partner to make a playlist together. You can talk with the venue beforehand to ensure the proper sound system is set up so you can hook up a smartphone or iPod to play. This option would give you the chance to play some of your favorite tunes that may not be the most dance friendly come the reception.


Looking for cocktail hour musicians? Start here

Make sure to ask your cocktail hour musicians these questions.

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