Cocktail Music Redefined

When it comes to music, the cocktail hour is the most neglected portion of the night. However, with careful consideration, the right music decision can have a strong impact on the overall atmosphere and transform this sixty-minute period into something of more substance. In the last issue of Beautiful Bride, we discussed how you can quite literally transform the emotional backdrop of your ceremony using custom-designed music. Let’s explore this with the cocktail hour.

“Let’s just hire a string section to play traditional classical selections, or a small jazz combo, or how about a piano player who can play whatever.” That is similar to what I hear over and over. I’ve also heard some clients say they don’t need any music for their cocktail hour. These people are missing an opportunity. What is the point of a cocktail hour? Most often, it occurs between the ceremony and the reception. It is therefore an important transition between two distinctly different segments of the overall wedding event.

The ceremony is profound in that you are publicly declaring your love for each other and desire to commit to spend the rest of your lives together and support each other “through sickness and health.” Your guests are quiet, paying rapt attention and bearing witness to this wonderful moment. The reception is the party…the celebration! Most couples want to have a blast, tear the roof off, bring everyone together, pack the dance floor and leave happily exhausted with memories for a lifetime!

So, the cocktail hour is actually an important transition point. It is the first opportunity for everyone to break the ice and begin connecting with each other. What else happens? Whether it’s fine wine, champagne, or liquor, consumption begins and people start to loosen up more. All this is leading to that exciting moment when the reception area is revealed for dinner and dancing.

I’ve talked about this many times before; music has an important emotional impact on the surrounding environment. Like the soundtrack to a film, whether obvious or subtle, it not only supports the dialogue but even dictates how the audience interprets the emotion of the scene as the screenwriter intended. The same goes with the cocktail hour. The musical backdrop can have a direct effect on how everyone is feeling and prepare them for the upcoming dance and celebration.

For some, traditional classical or jazz is a fine choice if they want an understated and elegant undertone. However, given that most receptions these days end up being explosively fun and dynamic, why not provide music that prepares your guests and intentionally gets them in more of a party mood? Regardless of the instrumentation, dictate to your musical act to begin the cocktail hour with somewhat of an excited feel and have them continue to build throughout the hour. I love beginning with upbeat 40’s or 60’s style music and quickly moving through the decades ending up with instrumental versions of current popular top 40 hit songs! Your guests may not know exactly why they are feeling more anticipation leading up to the beginning of the reception, but trust me, they will!

Carefully consider the musical selection, for your cocktail hour, and transform it into a vital and essential part of your overall celebration!

Andy Kushner

Andy has received more press and both national and international awards than any other entertainment professional in the event industry. His Entertainment Productions have been featured in every media imaginable including television, magazines, newspapers, radio and numerous on-line outlets. From Billionaire clients’ weddings in remote and exotic locations to large-scale corporate worldwide Andy and his close-knit team incorporate innovative elements that take every event to unimaginable levels.

Named a Top 25 Trendsetter alongside with Preston Bailey, Sylvia Weinstock and Colin Cowie, Andy and his team craft a personalized music and entertainment design concept for every wedding, gala and corporate client. Their company-founded musical acts include the internationally known band, SoundConnection as well as Marquise Rhythm6 SoundNation and PopCulture Strings.

“As an Entertainment Designer, my work begins well in advance of the event to make sure I understand the host’s vision, goals, needs and purpose. I create one-of-a-kind concepts for my clients to make events unlike any other they have previously experienced – true customization.” – Andy Kushner

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