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Top 10 Music Ideas for a Wedding Drinks Reception


Need a hand picking the right live music for your wedding reception? You’ve come to the right place. Your reception is the perfect time to relax over a few drinks with your friends before but getting the music right can be difficult.

Here at Encore we’ve helped thousands of brides-to-be choose music that perfectly suits the vibe of their wedding reception. Here are our top 10 picks from classical string quartets and harpists, to contemporary acoustic and jazz bands.

New Orleans-style Jazz Band

If your reception is outdoors you’ll want to consider a traditional jazz band. Playing the best hits of the 1920s Jazz Age, these bands will have your guests tapping their feet as they catch up over their prosecco. They’ll often come with vintage New Orleans-style instruments, like banjos, tubas, and washboards adding an authentic 20s vibe to your wedding. Traditional jazz bands are particularly popular with English garden party style weddings

Looking for a traditional swing band to play a few up-to-date hits in a swing style? You’ll want to check out our Postmodern Style Jazz bands who specialise in transforming chart hits into jazz classics.

New Orleans-style jazz band, Sunshine Kings, show off their chops!

Gypsy jazz band

Transport the blues and swing over to 1920s Europe and you get the charming sound of gypsy jazz. Imagine a smoky Parisian bar filled with writers and artists (and probably Woody Allen) and you won’t be far off from the sound of gypsy jazz bands. Featuring virtuosic guitar picking and soft chords, they’re perfect for both indoor and outdoor receptions.

Gypsy jazz band, Manouche Rouge, performing Django’s Tiger

Acoustic Duo

If you’re looking for something contemporary yet classy, an acoustic duo is the way to go. Usually comprised of a singer and an acoustic guitarists, these expert musicians will play your favourite songs while your guests mingle.

Singing guitarist

Combining outstanding vocals with their guitar skills, singing guitarists are brilliant for adding a folky festival vibe to your reception. They’ll often have a huge backlog of songs to choose from, so make sure you get in touch beforehand to request the songs you’d like your guests to hear.


Nothing will capture the attention of your wedding guests like the sound and beauty of a live harpist. These musicians for create a calm, sophisticated atmosphere at your reception – a great contrast to the excitement of the wedding ceremony. Bear in mind, harps are damaged easily by the elements, so harps are best suited to indoor or covered receptions.

Looking for other options similar to harpists? Browse our flute and harp duos, or classical guitarists.

String quartet

For centuries, string quartets have provided background music for the most important occasions in people’s lives. But while they might be the go-to option for a traditional wedding, these highly trained musicians are equally able to perform upbeat covers of contemporary pop or jazz hits.  

While a quartet is the standard line-up arrangement, if you’re on a tight budget you might want to consider booking a string duo or string trio.  

Mariachi band

Give your guests something to smile about with a Mexican mariachi band at your reception.

Strolling acoustic band

Create a festival vibe at your reception with a full acoustic band. These bands can stroll around your reception entertaining your guests with folky covers of your favourite songs.

If you’re not completely set on a strolling band, browse our Mumford and Sons style bands—you’re sure to find someone you love! 


Fancy something different to entertain your guests? Why not go for an accordionist. These musicians will be able to stroll around performing classic French chanson or folky covers of your favourite songs.

Barbershop quartet

What’s better than having one singer strolling around your reception? Why not have four, singing in close harmony! Book a barbershop group and your guests will be tapping their toes and humming along in no time.


Jonny Venvell

Jonny is Encore's Head of Artist Relations.

He's responsible for supporting and helping musicians on the platform and writes most of the musician-facing articles on the blog. He can usually be found singing in choirs, drumming in bands, or nodding meaningfully to particularly good chords in London's jazz bars.

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