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The Best Charleston Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist: Volume 1

05 August 2017

What do you think a playlist would sound like at your cocktail hour for your upcoming Charleston wedding that defines what it is like to be married in one of the world's best cities? It woulld probably sound like nothing you have ever heard before, especially if you are one of the hundreds or thousands of destination brides and grooms coming to the Holy City of Charleston SC. In my professional opinion as a wedding DJ, the playlist would include songs that conjure up the thoughts of a laid back, but formal affair over at the exquisite Middleton Place or a classy seaside suarez at Kiawah Island or Seabrook Island. It might also include local musicians like Darius Rucker, as well as regional artists like Edwin McCain and Jump Little Children or the Blue Dogs. The energy level of this playlist would be fairly upbeat and energetic, but not too crazy because we need to save that pent up energy for after dinner as you and your guests begin to cut a rug over at the luxurious Daniel Island Club.


 This cocktail hour playlist has a lot of "Charleston" in it and is the first one I have designed in this series. It's been crafted and designed with my knowledge of Charleston wedding and music. The perfect mix of pop, Motown, country, alternative, Americiana, and even classic rock to provide a truly excellent vibe for the cocktauil hour at your Charleston wedding. At the end of the day, your cocktail hour, dinner music, and reception music need to create the ultimate soundtrack to the most beautiful of your life.

The Best Charleston Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist Is Available on Spotify NOW
As one of the top Charleston Wedding DJs, I wanted to meet my future clients where they were most likely listening to their Spotify. So many of my clients are on streaming platforms, so I thought I would migrate all of the playlists you've come to know and love on my blog over to Spotify. Not only will you find this great wedding cocktail hour playlist for Charleston brides and grooms, but you'll find plenty of other wedding playlist designed to provide inspiration when thinking about the music you would like to hear for your wedding. Just search for DJ Mike Bills 

"Hold My Hand" | Hootie & The Blowfish
A Charleston wedding without a little Hootie might be compared to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly. It goes well and this song takes back a lot of Charlestonians and South Carolinians back to the summer of 1994 when this band with roots to the Lowcountry began to hit it big. Be sure to check out a previous blog entry of my best ALL Hootie Playlist.

"Sugar" | Maroon 5
One of a handful of perfect pop songs with a great beat to loosen up your guests after the wedding ceremony while they have some great Lowcountry cocktails and socialize with friends. If you'd like to get in the mood about your wedding day, just watch the music video by clicking the link. "Sugar" was released at the beginning of 2015 and would spend 21 weeks on the Hot 100, peaking at #2.

"What's Wrong With Love Songs" | The Blue Dogs
With close to 30 years of making music, The Blue Dogs are a band with an Americana sound from Charleston, SC.  The perfect sound for a Charleston cocktail hour indeed. "What's Wrong With Love Songs" can be found the album Halos And Good Buys released back in 2006.

 "For Once In My Life" | Stevie Wonder
A little bit of Stevie Wonder at your Charleston wedding goes a long way to entertaining your guests. The hardest decision about Stevie Wonder is which one of his songs to add into your playlist.  I chose this one because it's a great upbeat track after a serious wedding ceremony. This title track to the popular Stevie Wonder would be released in the fall of 1968, and would peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 "Bennie & The Jets" | Elton John
This track shows up on a lot of wedding playlists and it sounds good all over Charleston, especially at downtown venues like Lowndes Grove, the Historic Rice Mill, or the Thomas Bennett House. One of the many signature songs produced during the career of Elton John, the song was featured on the 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. "Bennie & The Jets" would peak at #1 on the Hot 100 chart.

Best Charleston Cocktail Hour Playlist Cotton Dock
The Cotton Dock At Boone Hall Plantation

"Tears Dry On Their Own" | Amy Winehouse
The late Amy Winehouse's voice sounds so good and fits well in a mix of Motown songs. Take a listen to this track and you'll see what I mean.  While the song did not chart in America, it did get some traction in the UK and would peak at Number 6 on the UK R&B charts.

"Papa Was A Rolling Stone" | The Temptations
Here is that Motown I was talking about. This song offers a bit of a jazzy funky chill vibe. Don't let the nearly 12 minute You Tube scare you. There are much shorter version available. Originally recorded by the Undisputed Truth, the Temptations would record and release a version in the fall of 1972 and would score a Number 1 song on the Hot 100.

"Carolina In My Mind" | James Taylor
You are in beautiful Charleston, South "Carolina" for your wedding.  It's a truly beautiful for your cocktail hour as the sun is setting over the water. James Taylor is a popular choice by modern brides and grooms and this song If you are driving to Charleston for your wedding, throw this on in your car.

"Upside Down" | Jack Johnson
The vibe of Jack Johnson is quintesential Charleston. His laid back sound has bbeen very appealing over the years to brides and grooms getting married all over the Lowcountry. "Upside Down" was a #1 song on the Adult Alternative songs charts and was featured on the Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George.

 "Wagon Wheel" | Darius Rucker
Darius Rucker making another appearance in this first iteration of the Classic Charleston Wedding cocktail hour playlist. Wagon Wheel sounds awesome at any time during your reception and is sure to get the guests on the dance floor.  There are some purists though who only want to hear the version by Old Crow Medicine Show. Darius Rucker recorded and released this song at the beginning of 2013 and would peak at #1 on the country charts and become his most successful song to date. If you are a modern bride or groom who are interested in more Hootie & The Blowfish and Darius Rucker songs for your wedding playlist, click the preceding link.

Best Charleston Cocktail Playlist Lowndes Grove
Lowndes Grove Plantation | Charleston, SC

 "I Second That Emotion" | Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Another great Motown track that is upbeat and fun and absolutely perfect for a Charleston cocktail hour over at Alhambra Hall or at Harborside East after a beautiful wedding ceremony overlooking the harbor. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles would release this song in the fall of 1967 and it would peak at #4 on the Hot 100 in December of that year. Diana Ross & The Supremes would go and record a cover of that song too.

"I Could Not Ask For More" | Edwin McCain
He might be based out of the Greenville, SC area, but he's spent countless nights entertaining Charleston back in the late 80s and early 90s before going more mainstream. This is truly a beautiful song for brides and grooms and has been used in the past for theif first dance.  "I Could Not Ask For More" would peak at #3 on the adult contemporary chart in 1999.

"Come Out Clean" | Jump Little Children
Originally formed in Winston-Salem, the band came to Charleston in the summer of 1993 and eventually called the Holy city their home. This track is an upbeat song from the late 90s and received quite a bit of radio airplay.

"Down By The Seaside" | Led Zeppelin
This track made the list and became associated with coastal South Carolina one year for me as I was heading out to Kiawah Island to enjoy the scenery and beach.  It's not too edgy like a lot of Zeppelin, and I must invite you to head out to Kiawah Island while you are in town for your Charleston wedding. You'll fall more in love with the coastal region of South Carolina even more on the drive out there.

 "Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay" | Otis Redding
Talk about stating the obvious. :) Another track that is a no-brainer for Charleston area weddings. If you are feeling a little creative, look up the Michael Bolton version. Bolton didn't do a bad job on it at all, but Otis Redding is always a huge hit on most of the playlists I see.

Founders Hall Charleston SC
Founders Hall | Charleston, SC

"Sunset Lover" | Petit Biscuit
French DJ and producer Petit Biscuit released his self EP in 2015 and would enter the Billboard Hot Dance & Electronic charts and peak at Number 13.

"I Can See Clearly Now" | Jimmy Cliff
If you are a big fan of 90s pop culture, you might remember a movie that was released in 1993 called Cool Runnings. The movie was about the Jamaica bobsledding team making their debut in the Olympics. JImmy Cliff would cover this Johnny Nash classic from the early 70s and would score a Top 10 hit on the adult contemporary chart. It's the perfect kind of song for a sunset in Charleston at your favorite wedding venue while sipping a cocktail with your best friends.

"Higher Love" | Steve Winwood | 1986
It took doing research for this blog to learn that Chaka Khan sang the female background vocals on this 80s classic from the summer of 1986. "Higher Love" was released in June of 1986 and would become his first Number 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.

"I Got You Babe" | UB40 and Chrissie Hynde
Originally written and released by Sonny & Cher back in the 60s, UB40 collaborated with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders back in 1985 to record a great cover. The song would crack the Top 30 peaking at #28 in the United States, but would hit #1 on the UK charts.

"Sunrise" | Simply Red
Back in 2003, Simply Red released their album, Home. On the album, there was a cover of The Stylistics, "You Make Me Feel Bran New". The album featured a song called "Sunrise", which sampled the early 80s Hall & Oates song "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)".  "Sunrise" was released in the spring of 2003 and would become a Top 5 hit on the Adult Contemporary chart, and it's remixes allowed it to become a Number 1 song on the Dance Club chart.

The William Aiken House Charleston Cocktail Hour
The William Aiken House | Charleston SC

"Walking On A Dream" | Empire Of The Sun
"Walking On A Dream" is the title cut to the debut record for Empire Of The Sun, released back in the summer of 2008. The song would top the Billboard U.S Dance Club charts, and peak at #3 on the U.S Alternative charts.

"Everything She Wants" | Wham
It still pains me to know that George Michael left us just over 3 years ago. Back in 1984, Wham would release their debut album, Make It Big.  "Everything She Wants" had a great chill vibe to it and would make it all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the Hot Dance singles chart.

"The Sweetest Taboo" | Sade
Back in 1985, Sade released her second album, Promise. "The Sweetest Taboo would be the lead single to be released in the fall of 1985, and would peak at #5 on the Hot 100 in March 1986. If you are interested in adding any more Sexy Sade Songs to your playlist, please click the preceding link.

"Again" | Lenny Kravitz
"Again" was the only new song that was placed on a Greatest Hits compilation that came out in September of 2000. The song would peak at #1 on th Mainstream Top 40 charts in early 2001.

"Sign Your Name" | Terence Trent D'arby
"Sign Your Name" was the follow-up to Terence Trent D'arby's #1 hit "Wishing Well" and would make it all the way to Number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as Number 2 on the Hot Black singles chart.

Wanna Talk To Mike Bills About Being Your Wedding DJ About Saving Your Date ?
And there you have it, Volume 1 of my version of the Best Charleston Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist.  I hope you enjoyed listening to all these songs as much as I had putting this blog together. One thing is for sure, I am one of the only top wedding DJs in Charleston who is all about the music and a DJ that provides laser focus for all his clients.It's my goal through these blog posts to give brides and grooms ideas on how to begin putting their perfect playlist together. I'm here for you to discuss the music for your upcoming Charleston wedding and it's a passion of mine talking music with newly engaged couples. Please click the link up above to be taken back over to the main website to fill out a contact form to tell me a little more about your wedding day. I would love to be your wedding DJ.