Choosing the music for your wedding should be one of the most fun parts of planning your wedding. It is a time where you get to be creative and truly reflect your personality. Plus, you don’t have to be overly worried about trying to please everyone – thankfully, there are enough places for music during the ceremony and reception that you can just about satisfy everyone’s wishes without having to sacrifice your own!
Think of your wedding music as a soundtrack, much like one created for a movie. The song selections you choose should reflect your style and personality, while also setting the “atmosphere” for the wedding ceremony and reception.
There are many moments/events during both the wedding ceremony and reception for which you will need to make song selections. So many in fact, that you might want to consider prioritizing the ones that are the most important to you. Select those first, then if you run out of time or energy, you can delegate the rest of the choices to someone else – or ask the DJ or musician(s) you have hired to help you decide.
The best way to get started is to think “big picture” about what type of music you would like to hear given the type of wedding you will be having. A more modern wedding might introduce contemporary song choices during the ceremony whereas a more traditional one would go with classical selections. The bride and groom should do this together since the music should be a reflection of who they are as a couple. Think about what genres of music the two of you like as well: jazz, blues, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, classical, rock, country, etc.
Next, think about any songs that have special meaning to you. Perhaps there are songs from the soundtrack of the first movie you saw together or songs that were on the radio during a memorable moment in your relationship. Or maybe there’s a song that you really like for no particular reason other than it’s meaningful because both of you like it.
Finally, start thinking about what musical artists you like. Just about every artist has at least one song that can be used during some part of a wedding ceremony or reception. If at anytime a disagreement arises, remember that there are literally millions of songs out there….so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a middle-ground. If one of you has a song that he/she feels is absolutely necessary to use, but the other one is not as big of a fan of that song, then consider using it when the music is not playing (no pun intended) as big of a role in the ceremony/reception.
Once you have talked everything over with your future spouse, it is then time to start thinking about specific places during your wedding ceremony and wedding reception that you will need to have music. To help you out, we have created a section for Wedding Ceremony Songs and Wedding Reception Songs.
Music played during the wedding ceremony should blend with the overall theme of your wedding. How your wedding ceremony is laid out will be a determinant as to when and where music will be needed.
Most people think of classical music when they think of music for their wedding ceremony – this is entirely okay and we have a category just for classical music. These days however, not everyone is going the classical music route and contemporary songs are slowly gaining in popularity. Some people take a middle road and play contemporary music but use the instrumental versions of songs – we have a category for that as well.
The music played during your wedding reception will set the overall tone for your event. The right music will keep everyone happy and make the time literally fly-by…your guests will leave your reception gushing about what a great time they had. The wrong music probably won’t ruin things, but it certainly will make your guests more likely to nod off or go home early.
The first decision for you to make is whether you want to have your wedding music played by a live band or by a music DJ. Going with a live band certainly adds an element of authenticity and some “ooomph factor”, but it can also do the same thing to your budget, so watch out. If you decide to go with a “name” band with good recognition, expect to pay accordingly. Nonetheless, there’s nothing quite like having a really good live band that sounds totally awesome and gets the crowd engaged – we’ve all been to those parties and remember them well. So, if you decide to go the live band route, more power to you.
Having a DJ, on the other hand, can be every bit as much fun. DJs are generally less expensive and they allow you to have more control…. you know exactly how the songs it will sound. DJs can be more flexible too and that can add to the fun. If you let the DJ take requests, your guests will be delighted to hear the songs they have requested. The DJ can also quickly adjust the type of songs that he/she is playing based on the “vibe” of the reception – ie. play fast party music to get everyone moving. Whichever way you go, DJ or live band, don’t get too stressed about the song selection. Chances are pretty good the DJ or members of the band can help you out – many times, they will know the right songs to play and when to play them.
Now, about that song selection. Typically, most of the focus will be on the song for the first dance. While that song will be part of one of the most memorable moments at the reception, you will need to select music for other moments during the reception as well. To help you out, we have created special pages to guide you (see the categories below). While most of your focus will be on what songs you want to hear, you should take a moment to consider if there are any songs that you don’t want to hear. These might be songs that were played at a funeral for a loved one or a song that includes obscenities. The last thing that you want to do is to place the focus of a moment somewhere that it doesn’t belong.
Plan on being on your feet through most of the wedding reception–either dancing or socializing with guests. The last thing you want to do is to wear the wrong shoes. Slip off your formal shoes into ones that are more comfortable and ensure that you don’t spend your honeymoon taking care of your blisters….although that would be one way to guarantee that you spend your honeymoon off your feet!
Have the DJ or band invite married couples to the dance floor for a special dance. As the song plays, the DJ slowly asks all the couple who have been married five years or less to sit down, then ten years, etc. until only one couple is left dancing. This couple is then applauded. They might also be given a special gift or asked to share some advice with the newlyweds. Either way it is a chance to honor the other married couples at the reception.
When selecting music for this moment, ask your parents and grandparents (and future in-laws) what their favorite song is or what song they danced to at their reception. If it is not included here, you might choose to include these songs at other parts of the reception or simply request that DJ or band play them at some point.
If kids will be coming to the reception, make sure you include them in your reception plans. Have the DJ or band play one or two songs that you know kids will enjoy. You can find some ideas listed on our page of Kid’s Party Songs. You might also consider having an area off to the side with coloring books, games, and even a video game player for kids to enjoy. If you decide to have a kids area in another room, hire a babysitter to supervise that area.
We have quite a few pages of songs listed for you to browse. Get started by choosing a category below:
Good luck and most of all, don’t forget to smile and have fun!