By Eric Herod with Eric Herod Entertainment

Would you believe that your cocktail and dinner music are two of the most important steps in establishing the mood for the entire wedding reception?

Cocktail Music Richmond Weddings Eric Herod Entertainment
Virginia Ashley Photography

Cocktail hour is that time period nestled between your ceremony and the opening of the reception, typically the announcement of the wedding party. It’s the time when you and your new spouse sneak away to take hundreds of photos with your photographer. Your guests are likely going to head to the bar, grab those signature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and make use of the time to chat with old friends, as well as make new ones.

Does it really matter what music is playing in the background? Of course, it does!

When you go to any establishment where people gather around food and drink, what is present 99.99% of the time in the background? Music. What are some typical styles and genres of music that are featured? Well, that depends.

Walk into a Chipotle and you’ll find a wide array of some obscure 80’s hits mixed in with some house music you likely have never heard. Contrast that with a fancy upscale downtown bar, you’ll hear a little Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack or Nat King Cole mixed with a little bit of swing music.

Cocktail Music Richmond Weddings Eric Herod Entertainment
Sarah & Dave Photography

Totally different vibes, right? Which one feels better for your reception? Well, that’s for you to decide. Maybe your cocktail hour is outdoors, near your barn reception. This would be a great opportunity to bring in a little bit of country! Or maybe you’re serving cocktails in a grand ballroom. Try incorporating some classic doo-wop music or timeless classical pieces to give your hour an air of elegance. The thing to remember about the cocktail hour is that you are not there. You likely won’t hear most of the music, but you want to put your stamp on the cocktail hour to set a tone based on the location, your relationship, and your guests.

Now that you’re thinking about non-dancing music and how it affects the tone and mood of a reception, let’s talk dinner music.

Sure, you can play an arranged list of classics, but your guests might get a little bored and sleepy.

Cocktail Music Richmond Weddings Eric Herod Entertainment
Sarah & Dave Photography

Dinner music selections should start from your library of music. Select some songs that are more low key, some songs that fit your relationship, and some songs that establish a great mood for dinner. Once again, think location. Is your wedding in a ballroom? Barn? Industrial or Rustic setting?

Use the setting, time of day, requested guest attire, and style of meal (sit down or buffet) to help guide your selections. Some venues will certainly make your guests imagine they are at a 5-star restaurant. So, use music selections that will enhance the guest experience and make them feel like they are having a date night at a top-notch restaurant.

Make your guests feel the love you have for each other and for them by curating a musical playlist that matches and enhances the guest experience. Go out on some date nights and listen to the music in the background. Have fun with it because…Yes! Your cocktail and dinner music matter.

Eric Herod is a certified Wedding Entertainment Director® and Owner of Eric Herod Entertainment, a full-time mobile DJ business dedicated to helping couples in Virginia and across the country create legendary weddings that make guests laugh, cry, and dance their tails off. Feature Photo: Hayes & Fisk Photography.