Music for Your Wedding Day

wedding music dance


The music you choose for your wedding day makes the soundtrack of all your wedding memories. From poignant to joyous, music creates the atmosphere for you and your guests. Take the time to plan the wedding and reception music according to the melody you want.

Begin planning your wedding and reception music as soon as you select a wedding site – the best musicians or DJs can be booked two years in advance. As you begin looking for entertainment, remember two things: Find the music you want, and find a musician who will work with you to craft your special day.

wedding music dj


Getting to Know You

There are three areas to cover when you interview wedding musicians:

  • Their music selection and experience
  • Their equipment
  • Their cost and policies

The most obvious issue is the kind of music they play. Get a song list, and definitely attend a performance, to get a feel for their style. Are they able to get specific songs which aren’t in their repertoire? Can they learn new songs? Even the volume at which they play music and the clothing they wear (black tie preferred) creates a different experience for your guests.

wedding dj


Check the equipment they provide. Make sure their sound equipment is modern and that they have a wireless microphone available for toasts. Determine how much time they need to set up, and schedule that into your preparations.

Count the cost. What do they charge, and what is included? Can they play overtime, and what is the price? Insurance, setup time, the length they perform, dates for deposits and payments, and planning meetings should all be accounted for. Nail down the name of the person who will actually play your wedding; this should be the same person with whom you meet. If you need to provide meals for the musicians, factor that into your catering budget.

The best way to finalize a decision: get references. If they have years of experience and good reviews, that’s good for you to know.

Tying the Knot

After you find the entertainment you want, get a signed contract immediately that clearly outlines all of your expectations, including:

  • The names of the performers
  • Date, time, and location of your wedding
  • Cost, hours required, and overtime compensation
  • Deposit and balance amounts and due dates
  • Cancellation and emergency policies
picking a wedding dj


Setting the Mood

The music selection should correspond to the mood you want to set and the parts of the ceremony and reception that you want to emphasize. Meet with your entertainment at least once, two months before the wedding, to plan the music. Make sure that they have the following information:

  • Names of the wedding party and anyone speaking at the reception
  • Announcements
  • An outline of the ceremony and reception
  • A song list

As you plan your music, consider a couple of issues:

  • Some churches have requirements about the music which can be played. For instance, the diocese may have a list of approved music for Catholic weddings.
  • Be careful choosing ethnic or group dances; it depends on your guests whether this will be enjoyed.
  • If in doubt about the song to choose, ask the musicians what they recommend.
wedding dj tips


At the Wedding

The wedding music tends to be softer, usually classical or ballads. There should be about five songs played as a prelude when the guests are seated, then a special song when the mothers of the bride and groom are seated.

There are two songs during the processional, one when the bridesmaids enter, and the most dramatic as the bride walks up the aisle. The most joyous music is played in the recessional, when the bride and groom leave together.

There can be special songs at different points in the ceremony, such as after exchanging the rings and vows, lighting the unity candle, or taking communion.

wedding dj tips


At the Reception

The reception music is open to the atmosphere you want to create. The “social hour,” when the guests arrive, has gentle background music. The wedding party is introduced with a song, and then a different song introduces the bride and groom. Each event during the reception – cutting the cake, tossing the garter, and throwing the bouquet – has special music.

The first dance is reserved for the bride and groom, and this music is “their” song. There are also dances for the bride and her father, the groom and his mother, both sets of parents (with the bride and groom dancing with their new in-laws before reuniting), and the wedding party. The last dance, like the first, belongs to the bride and groom alone. The music is usually the one used for the first dance, but it can be different.

Your music makes your moments. Work with your wedding musicians or DJ to create the effect – and the memories – you want to have.


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About the Author
Team Wedding, founded in January 2000, is a network of wedding related directories and niche wedding websites designed to alleviate wedding planning stress and to give brides and grooms the one-stop-shop experience they need in this busy, modern world. Top Wedding Sites, is the Internet’s first directory of the top ranked wedding sites, voted on by brides, grooms and others interested in hosting a wedding. Plan your wedding fast, easy and in the comfort of your own home, office or anywhere you can get an internet connection.

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  1. Wedding DJ

    Great article!

    Get a live audition from your band or DJ if possible!

  2. Barbara Ann Fackler, harpist

    Music choices are very personal. Before you meet with your musician to choose the music for your wedding ceremony, spend some time thinking about how the music you choose will fit into your plans.

    Choosing all classical music will give a more formal feel to the ceremony than using Broadyway, pop or rock songs. Choosing “your song” for special placement in the ceremony (like the unity candle) gives your guests a little window into your relationship. If you are using only instrumental music, consider printing the words to “your song” in your wedding program so guests know why it is important to you. Music lingers in the memory longer than the sight of flowers or the taste of food. It is experienced on so many different levels that it makes a lasting impression so it’s worth taking the time to consider it carefully.

    Before you choose your ceremony music, map out all the places during the ceremony that you want to include music. It makes it much easier to choose music if you know where you’ll be using it.

  3. Mark Sanchez

    A professional wedding disc jockey should have a large variety of music for a wedding and should play the kind of music that will fit your style reception. When bridal couples interview me, I never suggest crashing my other booked weddings to see me in action. I give them references from past clients and other wedding professionals with whom I have worked.

  4. Tony Carter

    Very good article. Also, make sure your DJ has the music you want. A DJ might tell you that he either has the song or can get the song you want, but make sure this is taken care of a month prior to the ceremony. You don’t want the DJ to call you the night before to tell you that he couldn’t find your song after telling you it would not be a problem.

  5. Top Wedding Sites

    Very insightful, Tony! Years ago I worked for a DJ at a wedding and he had to actually drive to a music store to get the couple’s first dance song CD because he forgot to get it! DUH! The bride and groom had no idea, but I sure sweated it out. True story. Be sure to thoroughly interview and check references to be sure you’re getting a professional. Call the phone number posted on their website (is it a professionally designed, completed website with all links working?) to see if anyone answers or, if you leave a message, someone calls you back (preferably same day during business hours). Check to see if they are members of local organizations and the Better Business Bureau. These are usually indications that the DJ is a serious professional.

  6. Hip Operation Wedding Band

    The music chosen at a wedding can really make the day. It is important that research is carried out in full and suppliers work with you to supply what will, and more importantly, what won’t work on the day.

  7. Eugene Dobbs

    There is nothing like a live band performance, especially when the band is composed of seasoned, professional musicians who take the time to learn your requested special songs. Be sure to ask for references and get a written contract. Read more about hiring professional wedding musicians.

  8. Steve Ney

    Most bands play the standard wedding songs and regardless of how good a band is, they may not sound like the original artists. Wedding band members can vary in age and if you have a band with an older lead singer, they’re probably out of their element trying to sing Top 40 hits. A professional DJ carries thousands of songs of many different genres including brand new Top 40 hits. The advantage of having a DJ is you have more control over the playlist and some bands will take breaks during 4 hours of contracted service. A DJ service usually plays non-stop from start to finish.

  9. Matt, PA

    Our DJ was recommended by the site of our reception. I assume that they wouldn’t stake their reputation on a bad referral, but beware of nepotism and favoritism though! Ya never know what they have to gain from the referral. It’s a good start though; followed by a meeting and all the other suggestions posted previously.

  10. Boston Wedding DJ

    Thanks for posting this. In our area live auditions (or drop ins) at weddings are frowned upon. Most of the venues don’t allow it. Sure fire way to get not invited back.

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