Scenic City Weddings

4 Cocktail-Hour Playlists That Everyone Will Love

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Music is essential in every wedding celebration. And for the most part, picking out tunes for the big day is pretty straight-forward. “Canon in D” for the ceremony; classic crowd-pleasers (“Love Shack”) and modern hits (Lady Gaga) to get the party moving during the reception.

Bridging the two is the cocktail hour, to which you should pay special attention, as it sets the mood for the rest of the evening. So, how do you make your wedding’s cocktail hour unique while still creating an appropriate vibe for your reception?

Karel King, a Chicago-based DJ and entertainment professional, recommends using “easy-listening” music that creates a happy atmosphere while not distracting your guests. King — who’s a fan of jazz, new age and music with a solo piano — reminds brides that a cocktail-hour playlist should cater to the audience you’re expecting, as you want your guests to enjoy the moments as much as you do.

Using these tips and suggestions, I’ve put together four unique playlists for the cocktail hour, each surrounding a different theme or genre but all reverberating the vibe of love. Think of it as the modern bride’s way to make every part of her wedding exceptional and unique. Best of all, I've already put these playlists together on Spotify — just click the link after the playlist to subscribe!

Modern/Current Love Songs

The first is an eclectic mix of modern day love songs, ranging from James Blake’s beautiful piano rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” to Grimes’ “Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U),” a contemporary arrangement flooded by Clair Boucher’s mesmerizing voice.  This playlist is composed of current artists, some of whom add an electronic essence to keep the younger crowd intrigued, such as Animal Collective’s “Bluish,” while others like Radiohead and Bon Iver keep this playlist timeless.

“A Case Of You” – James Blake
“Bluish” – Animal Collective
“Will Do” – TV On The Radio
“Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)” – Grimes
“Lover’s Carvings” – Bibio
“Calgary” – Bon Iver
“You Are All I See” – Active Child
“Keep Your Heart” – TV On The Radio
“To Binge” – Gorillaz feat. Little Dragon
“Grandloves” – Purity Ring feat. Young Magic
“Weird Fishes” – Radiohead
“Skinny Love” – Bon Iver
“U Ba Khin” – STRFKR
“Landmines” – St. Vincent
“You Are The Ocean” – Phantogram
“Love” – Delicate Steve

[Click here to subscribe to the Current playlist on Spotify]


Beginning with the crooning of Sam Cooke, this playlist takes you through a journey of the decades. Compiled of famously classic artists like Van Morrison, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, this playlist includes ageless songs that all generations will be familiar with. Because the music spans across multiple genres, like jazz, reggae, and classic rock, there will be something everyone can enjoy while keeping the ambience and loving spirit high.

“You Send me” – Sam Cooke
“And It Stoned Me” – Van Morrison
“Something” – The Beatles
“The Girl From Ipanema” – Stan Getz
“I’ll Be Your Mirror” – The Velvet Underground & Nico
“Is This Love” – Bob Marley
“Stick With Me Baby” – Robert Plant & Allison Krauss
“Over The Hills And Far Away” – Led Zeppelin
“May This Be Love” – Jimi Hendrix
“Leather & Lace” – Stevie Nicks & Don Henley
“Oh, Darling” – The Beatles
“That’s How Strong My Love Is” – The Rolling Stones
“Rock Your Baby” – George McCrae
“No Letting Go” – Wayne Wonder
“This Must Be The Place” – Talking Heads

[Click here to subscribe to the Classic playlist on Spotify]

R&B/ Soul

This playlist is quite different from the first two, as it is a mix of contemporary and classic tunes all from the genres of R&B and Soul. It will easily be pleasing to all generations as it is filled with the eternal voices of Otis Redding, Al Green and Aretha Franklin, some of the most well-known love singers of all time. These legends are joined by their modern-day equivalents, D’Angelo, Frank Ocean, and Lauryn Hill. These songs, filled with the soothing sounds of trumpets and magnificent soprano voices combined with the most masterful love lyrics will create an ambient, love-filled atmosphere, perfect for any wedding cocktail hour.

“Send It On” – D’Angelo
“Thinkin Bout You” – Frank Ocean
“Just For Me” – Al Green
“Untitled (How Does It Feel)” – D’Angelo
“Keep Getting It On” – Marvin Gaye
“That’s How Strong My Love Is” - Otis Redding
“How Can You Mean A Broken Heart” – Al Green
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” – Lauryn Hill
“Lovely Day” – Bill Withers
“You’re The Kind Of Girl” – Lee Fields & The Expressions
“Lost Without U” – Robin Thicke
“Love and Happiness” – Al Green
“It Was You” – Aretha Franklin
“Come To Me” – Otis Redding
“Soulful Strut” – Grover Washington Jr.

[Click here to subscribe to the R&B/Soul playlist on Spotify]


This theme is perfect for any destination wedding near a beach or palm trees. The playlist is filled with the beautiful seductive sounds of the renowned Cuban group Buena Vista Social Club, Santana and Tim Maia. and it will undoubtedly accentuate the tropical vibe during the reception. These musicians create music that combines the genres of Latin America, jazz, and psychedelic rock, creating an ambient yet lively mood perfect for the cocktail hour.

“Buena Vista Social Club” – Buena Vista Social Club
“Que Beleza” – Tim Maia
“What More Can I Say” – Nina Simone
“Pueblo Nuevo” – Buena Vista Social Club
“Danzón De Tus Ojos” – Omar Sosa
“Ela Partiu” – Tim Maia
“Dos Gardenias” – Buena Vista Social Club
“Where Is My Other Half” – Tim Maia
“Oye Como Va” – Santana
“Samba Triste” – Stan Getz
“Viente Anos” – Buena Vista Social Club
“Reu Confesso” – Tim Maia
“Murmullo” – Buena Vista Social Club
“Samba Para Ti” – Santana
“Chan Chan” – Buena Vista Social Club

[Click here to subscribe to the Tropical playlist on Spotify]

© Brides365


Tags: cocktail hour, playlists, djs, music, wedding music