Category Archives: wedding reception music

wedding dance floor with guests dancing to wedding theme songs

Wedding Reception Music: 10 Questions that Get You Awesome Wedding Songs

The right wedding playlist that guarantees a packed dance floor is different for every couple. As wedding DJs, we’re firm believers that every couple’s wedding reception music should fit their big day (more than a Google search for the top wedding songs can do!)

The good news is that deciding on the right wedding songs can be as simple as sitting down together and asking the right questions. (Think of setting the right wedding playlist as another chance to get to know each other!) The answers to your questions can set the tone for the right wedding playlist, or give you answers to pass on to your band or wedding DJ.

What kind of wedding atmosphere are we trying to plan?

Wedding reception music can be an integral part of establishing a wedding atmosphere. Period specific music can go a long way toward reinforcing a vintage wedding with all those retro details. In the same way, the right wedding songs can be a sign of the trend-setting, modern wedding reception to come.

What is the budget for our wedding reception music?

Couples don’t need a huge wedding budget to get the best music, but they do need to allocate funds according to the items that make the biggest impact on guests. The amount in each category on the wedding budget checklist helps you decide on the right vendors for your big day. These tips can help you decide between a band and DJ, and choosing the right wedding entertainment for your big day.

Do we need an emcee for our wedding reception?

Couples often underestimate the importance of having an emcee to direct the crowd and keep guests on the dance floor. Emcees can make major announcements, point guests to major points of interest (such as a tasting bar or photo booth), and even assist with surprises. A professional emcee, such as a band leader or DJ, has the expertise to make the flow feel effortless and well-planned.

What are our favorite songs?

This is your big night. It’s normal to want a night filled with your favorite songs, but don’t get so set on the idea that you don’t listen to your band or DJ. Together, put your favorite songs down on paper (if you disagree on the list, give each other a certain number of vetoes). Once you’ve hired your wedding entertainer, pass on the list and let them mix it in with top wedding songs that fit with who you are as a couple.

What wedding songs do we hate?

No bride or groom wants to hear songs that give them the same sensation as nails on a chalkboard. In addition to ‘must play’ songs, draft a list of songs that you absolutely hate. Don’t overdo it! Be careful about marking too many of guests’ favorites so they don’t get the chance to dance to their favorite songs.

Do we have any favorite songs that we want for our entrance into the wedding reception?

Your entrance into your wedding reception can be as unique as you want it to be—and the right wedding song puts it over the top. If you have a favorite song that fits the mood you want for your entrance (think excitement, classical, or a song that reinforces a theme), now is the time to put it down on paper. Don’t worry if you can’t come up with the right song; your DJ or band can suggest songs that are right for your wedding reception.

Is there a special song that we want for our first dance?

Some couples have their first song set in stone the first night they meet. For others, it’s not so clear (this list of tips for choosing the first dance song can help). If you want to make the moment completely different, ask your DJ or band to select the right first dance song for the ultimate surprise.

Do we want to play any games during the wedding reception? Are there any surprises we want to include?

Just like wedding songs, put together a list of games that you love and hate (this list of wedding dance games can get you started). If you both hate wedding dance games, it’s okay to hold a wedding reception without a single game; make sure you let the wedding DJ or band know you hate games so there is a clear understanding. If you want to add a surprise to the wedding reception, such as a visitor or celebrity popping up unexpectedly (use this list of wedding surprises to start your planning), let the wedding DJ or band in on the secret. Often, they can take your surprise to another level with wedding songs and announcements.

Are there any curfews or volume limitations we need to follow?

If the wedding venue has any curfews or volume limitations, it’s better to know right away. If an over-the-top wedding dance is a top priority, include the question in the list of questions you ask the wedding venue. Always let the DJ or band know as soon as possible if the answer is a yes. Once you have those important details, use this wedding reception planning checklist and let the wedding planning fun begin.

Wedding Music Checklist: What do I need?

disco balls from a wedding danceOnce you’ve finalized all the big details, it’s time to move on to planning the fun stuff: wedding music and entertainment. We’ve got a little bit of experience in that area (maybe a bit more…like 6,000+ weddings), so we put together a step-by-step checklist that can help you plan the perfect wedding music and entertainment for your big day.

What music do I need for my wedding?

In a traditional wedding, your wedding music typically follows this format:


___ Prelude

___ Music while parents are seated

___ Processional music for attendants

___ Processional music for bride

___ Recessional


___ Dinner & cocktail background music

___ Wedding party entrance music

___ First dance

___ Father-daughter dance

___ Mother-son dance

___ Bouquet & garter toss songs

___ Dance songs

How do I choose the right music for my wedding?

Your exact wedding playlist depends on the wedding theme or atmosphere you’re planning. The playlist for a vintage wedding with a Roaring 20’s theme is going to be very different than a rustic country wedding. Choosing the right wedding music can be as complicated as planning and executing a do-it-yourself option or as easy as choosing and trusting the right wedding entertainers.

Commonly, the latter option is split between two wedding entertainers: band and wedding DJ. Bands tend to be more expensive but can add to the atmosphere with a unique wedding theme. Wedding DJs are usually more affordable and can craft a playlist unique to your musical tastes (if they don’t, be careful and look for these other signs of a substandard DJ).

Whatever option you choose, understand that your wedding reception is not an isolated event; it’s part of your whole wedding. Choose music that fits with your wedding theme, or contact a DJ or band and give them all the details as you plan (for a seamless day, use a DJ for your ceremony and reception). A high-quality wedding entertainer can give meld the right wedding songs into a playlist that fits your special day—and makes your guests want to stay on the dance floor.

How to Compile the Perfect Wedding ‘Do Not Play’ List

guests dancing to wedding djThe list of most commonly banned wedding songs just came out, and, not surprisingly, some American favorites (sorry Chicken Dance!) are on the list. There are also a few takeaways that you can use as you craft the perfect wedding Do Not Play list for your DJ.

Choose a DJ that asks for your “must not play” list.

It’s fairly common for DJ’s to ask for Do Not Play lists, but don’t assume that all DJ’s are equal. Ask your DJ if they can honor your do-not-requests, and listen to those warning bells that go off in your head if they cannot customize their play list to your specific tastes. Vet your choice for DJ carefully, and look for these red flags to make sure you and your guests have a good time.

Don’t make your list too long.

As much as you may hate all those hokey songs (yes, YMCA and Macarena, we’re talking about you), remember those are the classics that get people on to the dance floor. The takeaway: while some of those songs may make your hair stand on end, be prepared to make exceptions for certain songs that your DJ can use to get your guests out on the dance floor.

Know your audience.

As much as this is your wedding, realize that you may need to keep certain songs off your Do Not Play list that your friends or relatives absolutely love. For example, if you come from a family that’s proud of their German heritage, you may need to keep polkas off your Do Not Play list and move a few to the Do Play list so your family can get in a few dance moves. Or if you hate country music, but you know your friends love it, look for a few songs that you don’t absolutely despise for their sake. Ask your DJ for recommendations if you need help with this process.

Use these common ‘do not play’ songs to start your list.

There are some songs that are absolutely annoying, and other songs that are incredibly inappropriate for your wedding. Know the difference; you don’t want your wedding reception to be incredibly awkward for everyone. If you’re looking for absolutely annoying, here are a few songs (or kinds of music) that couples should exclude:

  • Heavy metal (there are a few exceptions)
  • “My Heart Will Go On”-Celine Dion
  • Hard-core gangsta rap
  • Many “boy band” songs
  • “I touch myself” – Divinyls
  • “You’re so Vain” – Carly Simon
  • “Love Stinks” – The J. Geils Band
  • “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell
  • “My Humps” – Black Eyed Peas

Remember, when you’re choosing your DJ, you chose them for a reason; hopefully that’s their expertise. Your Do Not Play list doesn’t have to be a million pages. Trust your DJ to know what’s inappropriate and what works; if you have any doubts, it’s time to add your DJ to your Do Not Play list and find a new one.

Wedding Playlist: How many songs do I need for my wedding?

guests dancing to wedding djYour wedding playlist should be as uniquely you as the colors you choose and your wedding décor.  You can make that happen (and all the dancing that goes with it) by leaving your wedding playlist in your DJ’s hands.  If you fancy yourself a music aficionado, however, you may want to take more of a hands-on approach to your wedding playlist.

A “typical” wedding playlist (though every wedding is different) includes the following:


  • Prelude
  • Music for seating the parents
  • Processional music for attendants
  • Processional music for bride
  • Recessional


  • Dinner & cocktail background music
  • Wedding party entrance music
  • First dance
  • Father-daughter dance
  • Mother-son dance
  • Bouquet & garter toss songs
  • Dance songs

Once you’ve made a list of what songs you need, use these tips to craft the perfect wedding playlist:

Hire an excellent DJ for your big day.

If you want the best music for your big day, hire the best DJUse these tips to find an experienced DJ that can take your input and run with it. Avoid amateur DJ’s that may sound like a great deal, but can’t offer you necessities for an awesome wedding reception like state-of-the-art equipment (and back-up equipment), a back-up DJ, and all the extras that take your evening to the next level.

Make a list of must-have wedding songs you have to hear

One sign of an excellent DJ?  A DJ that asks for your favorite songs.  Do you have special song that means something to you and your fiance, songs you love to dance to, or a favorite of your parents or friends that you would all love to dance to? Put them down on paper. To make sure your guests hear all their favorite tunes, add a line to your invitations and ask for their requests.

Make a list of songs you DON’T want to hear

Do you have a song you hate with a passion?  Let your DJ know that too (along with this other important information).

Be realistic about the amount of songs that can be played

Remember, there are only so many songs that can be played at your wedding reception.  Usually that number is about 15-20 songs per hour, so don’t be upset if every song on your list can’t be played.

4 Tips for Hiring the Right Wedding Reception Entertainers

bride and guests at wedding reception dancing to reception entertainerWhat do you remember from the last wedding you were at? Was it the favors, wine, or the fun time you had?  Chances are it was the latter, and that’s what your guests are going to remember from your wedding reception.  That’s why hiring wedding reception entertainment should be one of your top wedding planning priorities—and why we’ve put together tips that’ll help you hire the right entertainers for your big day.

Decide what kind of wedding entertainment is right for your big day.

Before you can decide who to contact, start by breaking down the most common wedding entertainment options: band, DJ, and do-it-yourself (we’ve gone into great depth on wedding entertainment options here).  What is your first choice?  Do you have a certain kind of music played by a band or would you rather have a variety of songs and a fun DJ?

Once you’ve decided what kind of entertainer you want, start contacting entertainers to find out what options fit in your wedding budget.  Ask each wedding reception entertainer these questions so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises later.

Don’t (entirely) base your selection on price.

When asking questions, remember there are a ton of amateur DJ’s and bands out there willing to offer their services for close to nothing.  When listening to their sales pitch, remember the old adage “you get what you pay for.”  While price is an important part of your decision, a low-cost wedding entertainer is probably going to deliver low-quality entertainment with subpar equipment (not to mention they probably don’t have a backup in case of emergencies, leaving you without entertainment).

Book early.

As tempting as it may be to procrastinate on hiring a wedding entertainer, the best DJs’ and bands’ fill up fast.  Twelve to eighteen months before your big day is optimal, but the reality of hiring wedding entertainers is the sooner the better.  If you wait too long, you are going to get a crummy wedding entertainer (here’s how to tell if you hired a low-quality DJ) and all your guests are going to remember is a boring ho-hum wedding reception.

Think about what happens ‘just in case.’

Musicians get sick. DJ’s get sidelined because of a family emergency.  Accidents happen, and the best bands and DJ’s have a back-up plan just in case; the amateurs don’t.  Remember when you decide on the high-quality entertainer (band or DJ), you are also paying for a contingency plan that won’t leave you—or your guests—bored.