20 Songs Your Wedding DJ Should Play at Cocktail Hour

Wedding DJs need to understand how to incorporate the right songs at the right time. Whether they play Jay-Z wedding songs or Whitney Houston wedding songs should depend on the mood, timing, and the bride and groom’s musical tastes.

But choosing songs for your wedding cocktail hour is a little more challenging than selecting songs for the couple’s first dance or the after-dinner reception. These songs have to make people feel comfortable while not putting them to sleep. They have to start setting the mood for guests without going overboard. 

This blog discusses 20 of the best songs your wedding DJ should play at your cocktail hour. It also outlines how you can tell whether your DJ is doing their best to make your wedding entertainment as magical as possible. 

RMF DJs is a platinum DJ service based in Montana that provides unforgettable wedding entertainment for every one of its clients. We don’t just play music at your wedding--we take your musical interests into account and create a customized experience that wows your guests. 

How You and Your Wedding DJ Should Plan Your Cocktail Hour Playlist

Choosing your cocktail hour music is a big decision. You need a wedding DJ who will take it seriously and listen to your feedback and input. 

It’s your wedding day, which means that everything is really up to you. However, your wedding DJ should act as your musical archive, coming up with the songs you wanted to hear without even thinking about them. 

Your wedding DJ should have a wealth of musical knowledge to understand your preferred music genres and be able to include them in a comprehensive cocktail hour playlist that keeps the energy of the evening moving. 

Wedding DJ Playlist Essentials 

Every experienced wedding DJ playlist has these three essentials: 

  1. Multiple genres. 
  2. Varying tempos.
  3. A combination of crowd-pleasers and music that’s a little more unknown.

The best wedding DJs can intermix genres and still retain the playlist’s overall vibe, making guests enjoy songs they never thought they could. 

Should You Include Dance Hits In Your Cocktail Hour Playlist?

For the most part, you should abstain from including dance hits during cocktail hour. This is because you want to save the tunes with the highest energy for when your guests hit the dance floor. 

If you play all of the songs that make people want to dance before they eat their meals, what are you going to play when it’s time to get the party started? You have to keep some groove on the cocktail hour playlist, but be careful you don’t burn everyone’s dancing energy too early in the night. 

Create a Do-Not Playlist for Your Cocktail Hour Playlist 

One of the most effective ways to create a playlist is by weeding out the songs you can’t include. Eliminating your unwanted genres with your wedding DJ will let your DJ know where your musical tastes lie so that they can make better-guided suggestions. 

If your wedding DJ doesn’t know you’re vehemently opposed to country, what’s to stop them from throwing on some Lonestar when everyone is getting ready to party? 

Your Wedding DJ Should Always Perform a Sound Check 

Platinum DJs are professional with their equipment. Part of being professional is performing a soundcheck to ensure all your equipment is working correctly. Without the soundcheck, you might not notice misconfigured wires, poor connections, blown speakers, etc. 

The soundcheck is the pre-flight check for pilots. It lets the wedding DJ know nothing is going to explode midway through the flight. 

Details Win the Cocktail Hour Playlist Game

If you want your cocktail hour playlist to be unique, you need to get specific. What songs must you include? After deciding the songs you need to have on your cocktail hour playlist, your wedding DJ will be able to fill in the blanks with songs that bring your playlist to life. 

Soul Tunes 

Cocktail hours need soul tunes. They’re upbeat with a sense of nostalgia woven into their fibers, the perfect combination for a wedding. Soul singers simply reach people on a deeper, more romantic level. No one can resist the power of love emanating from Marvin Gaye’s silky vocal cords. 

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough- Marvin Gaye 

This upbeat crowd-pleaser will get your guests feeling the love in the room by the time they get their first drink or appetizer. It sets the tone for the rest of the evening, and the vocals alone light up the room, prepping everyone for a night of dancing. 

My Girl- Temptations 

This love song deserves a spot in any cocktail hour playlist. It’s the most romantic soul song on this list, and it speaks to the childish freedom and wonder of young love. People of all ages know the words to My Girl- it’s the relatable love song that everyone wants to hear. 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered- Stevie Wonder 

If you want to bring the dance energy to a fever pitch, never entirely sending it over the edge, this uptempo, energetic ripper by Stevie Wonder is sure to do the trick. It will make your guests a little more talkative, a little more bubbly, and have them thinking about which jig they’re going to roll out later that night. 

Soul Man- Sam and Dave 

Another ripper, “Soul Man” by Sam and Dave has that visceral feeling we all look for in soul tunes. You can feel it in your chest, and you can’t help but sing along. 

Pop Songs 

You have to include a few pop songs in your cocktail hour for good measure. You don’t want your playlist to become monotonous with mainstream tunes, but you need to incorporate them for a complete playlist. 

These songs ensure that you appeal to the masses for at least a few jammers. Songs like “Uptown Funk” also blend genres so that your guests can feel a little poppy and a little funky. 

Uptown Funk- Bruno Mars

Who can resist that righteous bassline and the unrelenting drum hits on this jam? “Cuz uptown funk gonna give it to ya! Don’t believe me, just watch.” It’s hard to argue with those lyrics.  

This song best serves as a transition song. Play it at the beginning of the cocktail hour or dance segment to start the energy off the right way. 

Lucky- Jason Mraz and Colbie Calait 

We’ve covered the songs that will get everyone feeling a little more energetic. But what about the laid-back love songs? “Lucky” has heartwarming lyrics and a mellower tempo than some other songs on this list. It’s perfect for introducing some variety to your playlist. 

22- Taylor Swift 

This pop classic is a fun song about feeling free with friends and staying young no matter your age(good vibes for a wedding). Though there are a few lyrics about feeling lonely, it’s T Swift, and anytime you put on T Swift, half the building loses their minds. 

Halo- Beyonce  

Queen B lets her guard down a little on this one with a slower tempo tune about falling in love and losing all of her reservations about someone. The beat is heavy, too, which will keep your guests engaged.


You have to incorporate some oldies into the cocktail hour for two reasons: they’re classics, and they symbolize the passing of the torch from one generation to the next. Besides, Frank Sinatra’s sonorous voice is enough to class up any event. 

Fly Me to the Moon- Frank Sinatra

“Fly Me to the Moon” hits at virtually every wedding you attend. “In other words….Please Be true!” Playing this song at cocktail hour will have people wanting to sing along while they’re enjoying their drinks and appetizers. People will be toasting and throwing their arms around each other in no time once you play this classic crooner. 

Just In Time- Dean Martin 

This Dean Martin song is a little off the beaten path when it comes to the 40’s singer. Most brides and grooms want Dean Martin somewhere in their wedding song repertoire. However, you need to be careful when choosing a Dean song because it can get a little mushy and bland. “Just In Time” bucks that trend. 

At Last- Etta James 

Some slow love songs can kill the vibe, but as a wedding DJ, you still want to keep the romance in the room. Few singers are better at doing so than Etta. Her sultry, dynamic voice has been making people fall in love for 80 years, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. 

A-Tisket A-Tasket- Ella Fitzgerald 

Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald were two of the heavy hitters in the 40s jazz scene, and they deserve some love for their powerful voices during your wedding cocktail hour. You need to make sure you space these tunes out because, played in succession, they will sound cliche. However, when wedding DJs intersperse these oldies tunes, they create a powerful sense of nostalgia that adds to any wedding. 

Dance Songs 

While you don’t want to play all of the dance tunes at the cocktail hour, you can get away with interspersing some lower tempo, less energetic dance songs. These will create a laid-back atmosphere for your guests while getting the dance muscles warmed up. 

I Feel it Coming- Daft Punk and the Weekend

A perfect precursor to starting the evening off right, “I Feel It Coming” combines The Weeknd’s tender falsettos with Daft Punk’s funky electronic beats. It will get people to tap their feet, but it won’t have them doing the worm. You want people to start feeling the energy during the cocktail hour and “I Feel It Coming” accomplishes precisely that.  

Latch- Disclosure ft. Sam Smith

“Latch” is in the same vein as “I Feel It Coming.” It has Sam Smith’s high falsettos and a warm electronic beat that’s not too distracting from your guests holding conversations. However, its “wompy” bassline and heavy 808s will make your guests groove a little while they settle in. 

Get Lucky- Daft Punk ft. Pharrell 

This 2013 hit is quickly turning into a classic. It’s a perfect starter dance tune for when the appetizers come out. Everyone loves a familiar song while they reacquaint themselves with the many wedding guests. 

Roses- Saint JHN (Imanbeck remix) 

This song adds a current hit to the playlist. It’s a chill dance hit that makes you want to rock back and forth. The Imanbeck remix is an excellent driving tune that translates well to social gatherings, including weddings. 

Rock Hits

The following rock hits are staples at weddings and will ring bells for all of your guests. You can’t go wrong with some Stones, Queen, Police, and Van Halen. 

Miss You- Rolling Stones 

This funky groove will set the tone for the cocktail hour. It’s a steady, bass-heavy tune that oozes cool. It also finds Mick Jagger’s melodies a little toned down. You can save “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Start Me Up,” for the dance floor. 

Crazy Little Thing Called Love- Queen 

No evening is complete without Freddie Mercury’s immaculate voice serenading the crowd. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” also finds Mercury in a more subdued lyrical composition and vocal style. You can save the singalongs such as “We Are the Champions,” and of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the dance floor.  

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic- The Police

This fun little diddy isn’t quite a dance tune, but it’s got the upbeat energy that will keep your guests in high spirits during cocktail hour. We all know how much everyone loves Sting’s voice, and why wouldn’t they? It’s romantic and masculine at the same time, always a feat. 

Jump- Van Halen 

“Jump” is another upbeat song that can be played at either cocktail hour or the dance floor. It’s not your stereotypical dance song, but it can get people moving. “Jump” is an excellent song to play after a slower love song to keep the energy high. 

Conclusion- 20 Songs Your Wedding DJ Should Play at Your Cocktail Hour

These cocktail hour songs are sure to get your guests in the right mood for the festivities they’re about to experience. However, simply mashing these songs together won’t affect wedding DJs who understand how to create ambiance for each wedding reception. 

The best wedding DJ services understand how to oscillate between their roles as MC and DJ effortlessly. They also understand when to take song requests and when to refuse. As with any other art form, there’s an element of surprise to the best wedding DJs’ work. It comes down to more than songs and playlists and includes being able to read the room. 

Over 600 couples have rated RMF DJs 4.9 stars on Wedding Wire. Don’t leave your wedding entertainment up to chance. Visit our booking page today and experience the wedding entertainment of a lifetime with Montana’s #1 choice for wedding DJs.  

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