You can spend hours pouring over table centerpieces, try hundreds of wedding cake samples, and do everything in your power to perfect your reception — but one of the most important (and often overlooked!) aspects is the music. The mix of wedding songs you choose sets the mood for the entire night! Whether you’re hiring a DJ, band, or DIYing the tunes for your reception, we’re here to help with a few things to keep in mind. We’ve also gathered some of the most loved wedding reception songs that you should consider adding to your wedding playlist!
First Thing’s First — The Method
If you haven’t already decided how you’re going to play music at your reception, it’s good to understand your options.
This option is obviously the cheapest — but while you may end up saving money, you still have to invest a lot of your time. Building your own wedding playlist is best reserved for those who aren’t that concerned about the dancing portion of the reception. You have other priorities, and that’s fine. A few things to ensure if you opt for this route:
- Speakers: Get them or make sure the venue has them, test their sound, and whether or not they’re compatible with the device you’ll be playing the music off of.
- Devices: Yes, plural. Have a backup!
- Playlist: Split the evening up into different playlists, or ensure that you have enough songs for different segments (guest arrival, dinner, etc). In addition to having a backup device, share the playlist with someone who has the same streaming service or music player as you.
- Appointed DJ: Whether it’s someone in the bridal party or a family member, designate a person or persons to keep an eye (or ear, ha!) on the music throughout the night. When it comes time for things like the first dance, they’ll need to be on standby ready to hit play.
Hiring a DJ allows for a lot of flexibility. This is a great option for couples who want to dance the night away, or those who aren’t particularly knowledgeable about music. DJs have extremely vast libraries, and they can offer suggestions or even craft an entire playlist for you. They’ll typically follow whatever schedule you like, meaning you don’t have to worry about quickly switching music when it’s time for something. They’re also knowledgable about technical things like lighting, speakers, etc.
A live band is another flexible option, but in a different way than DJs. Bands are able to alter the technical aspects of a song —vamp, pitch, tempo — and even switch out lyrics. However, it’s their lineup that’s usually more limited than that of a DJ’s. If you have a ton of songs that have to be played at the reception, a band probably isn’t right for you.
The Appointed Wedding Songs
You of course aren’t required to incorporate all of the following wedding traditions, but if you’re planning to, you’ll want to pick out wedding songs for each ahead of time.
- Bride and groom entrance
- Bridesmaid/groomsmen entrances
- First dance (see the 20 most unique first dance songs here)
- Father/daughter dance
- Mother/son dance
- Parents dance
- Dollar dance
- Throwing of the bouquet and garter
The Big Playlist
If you’re self-DJing, this will act as the music for the entire night. If you have a DJ or band, you’ll likely provide a list of suggestions ahead of time. Depending on who you’re working with, they may not accommodate all of your requests, but they should definitely be able to play your must-haves. Here’s what to keep in mind when picking them!
Keep it Moving
In other words, you should have more fast, upbeat songs than slow ones.
Mix it Up
You can request Top 40 songs (and you definitely should!) — just don’t only request Top 40 songs. The same goes for other genres.
Embrace the Hits
On that note, don’t completely discount Top 40 songs. They’re hits for a reason! Whether it’s Pharrell’s “Happy” or “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, it’s good to include feel-good songs that everyone knows.
If You’re Going to Include Line Dances, Start with Them
The Electric Slide and Cupid Shuffle are good icebreakers, so do them sooner rather than later. They’ll get people out on the dance floor!
Consult with Others
Talk to the bridal party, groomsmen, family members, and anyone whose opinion you care about. This also includes your DJ or band — make sure they understand your taste.
Make a Do-Not Playlist, Too
Nothing puts a damper on your wedding night like hearing a song you absolutely hate, or — god forbid — one that reminds you of an ex. Here’s a list of the most hated wedding songs for inspiration.
Most Requested of All Time
- Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars
- CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! – Justin Timberlake
- I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) – Whitney Houston
- September – Earth, Wind & Fire
- Yeah! – Usher
- Believe – Cher
- Jump Around – House of Pain
- Push It – Salt-N-Pepa
- My Girl – The Temptations
- You Make My Dreams – Hall & Oates
- Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley
- Wannabe – Spice Girls
- Love Shack – The B-52’s
- Under Pressure – Queen and David Bowie
- At Last – Etta James
- Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
- Dancing Queen – Abba
- The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
- When You Kiss Me – Shania Twain
- Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys
Guaranteed to Get Guests Dancing
- Hey Ya – Outkast
- We Found Love – Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris
- No Scrubs – TLC
- Kiss – Prince
- Temperature – Sean Paul
- Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midninight Runners
- Crazy in Love – Beyonce and Jay-Z
- This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
- Paper Planes – M.I.A.
- I Love It – Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX
- Africa – Toto
- We Are Family – Sister Sledge
- I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
- Mr. Brightside – The Killers
- In Da Club – 5o Cent
- Shout – The Isley Brothers
- Heroes – David Bowie
Slowing Things Down
- Still the One – Shania Twain
- Make You Feel My Love – Adele
- Forever – The Beach Boys
- Forever Like That – Ben Rector
- Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
- Amazed – Lonestar
- Bless the Broken Road – Rascal Flatts
- Endless Love – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
- All of Me – John Legend
- I’ll Be – Edwin McCain
- In My Life – The Beatles
- When You Say Nothing At All – Alison Krauss
- Midnight City – M83
- Walking on a Dream – Empire of Sun
- I Choose You – Sara Bareilles
- Shelter from the Storm – Bob Dylan
- There She Goes – The La’s
- Ho Hey – The Lumineers
- Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- XO – John Mayer
- You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – Stevie Wonder
- Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
- Electric Feel – MGMT
- You’ve Got The Love – Florence + The Machine
- Something In The Way She Moves – James Taylor
No matter which wedding songs you choose, think about what you AND guests will love, and you’ll keep everybody on the dance floor.