Cocktail Hour Music — How to Choose a Song List for a Wedding or a Party

by Robbie Schlosser · 3 comments

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.
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Magnolia Jazz Band in Saratoga, 2012See us playing cocktail hour music prior to a recent awards Gala in Saratoga.

At the end of this article, you’ll learn one of my favorite tips for making cocktail hour music successful.

I’ve written about cocktail hour music before — planning it, coordinating it, and how to talk about it.

Everyone talks about it.  Many wedding publications list popular cocktail hour songs.

Although it might seem unimportant, casual and low-key, cocktail hour music can make or break your celebration.

Really.  No matter what kind of event you’re planning.

It could be an informal get-together with friends, a VIP business banquet, or an elegant wedding reception.  Whatever, starting with the right cocktail hour music can create the perfect mood for the rest of the festivities.

For example, at a get-together with friends, the right cocktail hour music can establish an easy-going atmosphere to encourage lively conversations.

Or at a company banquet, the right cocktail hour music can help your guests unwind from a hard day at the office or from an intense day of meetings at a conference.

Or at a wedding, the right cocktail hour music can help your guests enjoy a comfortable transition from a formal ceremony to an upbeat reception.

We’ve played in all of these situations, and many more.  In every case, the right cocktail hour music helps your guests in three ways.

First, your guests will remember where they’ve been.

Cocktail hour music reflects back to the preceding event and whatever mood your guests bring to the party.  What can you select?  Perhaps you could repeat a few songs from the wedding ceremony.  Or play songs about the activity your guests just completed.

Second, your guests will enjoy where they are.

Cocktail hour music celebrates what’s happening now.  For example, you could choose songs suiting the cocktail party’s theme, that refer to the activity your guests are involved in right then and there.  Perhaps with specific words in the title, like “summertime”, or “New Orleans”, or “love”.

Third, your guests will anticipate where they’re going.

Cocktail hour music prepares everyone for whatever follows — whether it’s a friendly backyard barbecue, or a formal awards dinner party, or an elegant wedding reception.  Here you could assemble a playlist suggesting songs you know your guests will love there.

Or explain your plans to the musicians.  Tell them what mood your guests will bring at the start and what mood they should have at the end of your cocktail hour.  And leave the details up to them.  If they’re experienced, they’ll know what to do.

So here’s a tip:  For cocktail hour music to be successful, first understand WHY you’ll select your music, then WHAT you select will be easy!

 


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Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

By the way, does a friend need help selecting wedding or party music? Do them a favor: EMAIL this article, or SHARE it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Philip Griffith

I love the idea of including music from the previous event, be it the wedding ceremony or conference session. You’re telling a story with the music, a beginning, middle and an end. I just sorry I live on the opposite coast and can’t come hear you! I’ll have to take come by the blog instead. Thanks.
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Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Philip,
Glad you like this idea, but I’m not surprised. I’m sure you’ve noticed that photos conjure up memories and associations, too. Using music or photos, we’re both assembling rich experiences, piece by piece. Like you say, telling a story.
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