How to Choose the Music for Your Wedding Reception

We’ve all heard of brides and grooms who throw a great party but have regrets at the end of it. They might love the engagement ring, the outfits, the ambiance, and the food, but there are a few things they wish they had or hadn’t done. One of the most common regrets, unfortunately, is the music choice. If you don’t want this regret, consider the following.

Choose Between Live Music and a DJ

Rather than letting your music play on an endless loop, it’s better to have live music or a DJ. That way, guests can make requests, and there’s a designated person in charge of the music at all times.

Live music will often be your more expensive option. You’ll also need room for the band to set up, unless you have just a single musician. A DJ can be pricey as well (unless you ask a friend to do it for free), but they typically need less space.

When deciding between the two, consider your venue. There may be certain restrictions in your contract that you have to be concerned about, such as noise ordinances. If you’re in a church, they might request a more conservative band or DJ as well.

Curate Your Wedding Playlist

A good wedding playlist is everything. It will make guests excited to be there and eliminate awkward pauses or situations. While it’s probably tempting to use a wedding reception radio channel on Spotify or Apple Music, it’s much better to choose each song.

Think about songs that you love, songs that are good to dance to (slow and fast), songs that are significant to your relationship, and other music that moves you.

Again, the venue is an important consideration here.

“Some more conservative venues will have a specific list of traditional (often religious) songs for you to choose from, others might allow anything as long as it’s instrumental and has no recorded words, and the most progressive may be open to whichever music you choose (with the officiant’s review and approval first),” explains Jaimie Mackey of “Find out what rules you need to follow, and go from there.”

Determine the Style of Dancing You Want

A mix of popular songs is important to help guests engage on the dance floor. However, if you have a specific type of dance you’d like to see, mix in a few songs accordingly.

For example, if you know your cousins are excellent at hip-hop dancing, throw a few songs in there. If you and your new spouse took a classic dance class, you might want a song that lets you dance the cha-cha. You get the idea.

Focus on the First Dance

By far, the most important song will be for your first dance. This long-standing tradition will hold great sentiment and meaning for the beginning of your marriage, so it’s important to choose carefully.

When you’re at a loss, consider this advice from Nicole Harris of Martha Stewart Weddings: “Think about important moments that have defined your life together thus far, whether it was a time when you dated long-distance or if you had an unusual start to your relationship. Then do your research, trying to locate lyrics that tell your particular love story.”

There’s nothing in the rulebook that says you have to choose something sentimental or sappy, although you should if that’s your preference. You could also choose a more upbeat song or choreograph a dance, if you wish. It’s your choice, so do what feels right.

Have Music for Every Occasion

Your reception will likely be broken up into parts. There might be a cocktail hour, dinner, and a dance party. Consider the best music for each occasion, recognizing that it might be best to save the rowdiest music for the end when you can let loose.

As you plan for your wedding reception, think about other moments of the event. You might consider music for the pre-ceremony and walking down the aisle while you’re at it. You don’t have to go with the traditional wedding march if there’s something that appeals more to you.

Your forethought regarding the wedding music is the best way to avoid any music-related regrets following the event. It’s an exciting event that should be treated with the reverence and celebration it deserves, and the music you select can set the tone for the whole party.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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