The Complete Guide to Wedding Music, With Songs for Every Part of Your Special Day!
Music is one of the most important elements for a successful and fun wedding. It sets the tone for either an elegant and romantic affair, or a lavish, wild party.
Our complete guide to wedding music and songs will help you to set your wedding to music. It’ll help bring your vision to life from cocktail hour to hitting the dance floor. Your selections have a lot of ground to cover and we’re here to help you plan every song of the celebration!
Post last updated: March 2017
Planning Your Reception Music
Planning Your Wedding Ceremony Music
Planning Dance & party Music
How to Hire Live Entertainment (Band or DJ)
Top Wedding Songs by Genre
Top Wedding Songs by Year
Best Songs for Special Dances & Notable Events
More Posts About Wedding Music
How To Plan Your Reception Music
Wedding reception music is open to the atmosphere you want to create. The task will be a bit harder than just handing over a list of your favorite songs to the DJ but rather fine “tuning” each segment of the party and the vibe you want your guests to feel and take part in.
The cocktail hour is where it all begins. For this segment of the evening, you’ll want light, gentle background music that fills in the silence between chats and sips. Once the hors d’oeuvres and drinks are done being passed around, it’ll be time to get the celebration revved up and in full effect. It’s time for the bridal party to be announced!
Announcing the Bridal Party
The bridal party will be introduced with a song, and then a different song introduces the bride and groom. You can have a lot of fun with this part of the party. You may even want to ask the bridesmaids and groomsmen for ideas on what kind of song they want to sashay into the celebration with.
Other Reception Events
Each event during the reception – cake cutting, garter toss bouquet toss – should have a special tune selected to be played. And this is left completely up to the couple getting married. Choose something kitschy or a bit offbeat. Go with songs that have special memories attached or meanings. Of course, have it fit your couple style and personality too! This may be the most fun you have during your wedding planning together.
The first dance is reserved for the bride and groom, and the selection should be “their” song (first dance wedding song). There are also father/daughter dance songs, a song for mother and son (mother and groom) to dance to, both sets of parents (with the bride and groom dancing with their new in-laws before reuniting) and even step-parents and the wedding party song.
Whether you want to include all of these combinations or just a few, they all need a special melody to take a spin on the dance floor with. And don’t forget the last dance. Like the first, it belongs to the bride and groom alone.
Your music makes your moments. Work with your wedding musicians or DJ to create the effect – and the memories – you want to have forever.
Planning Your Wedding Ceremony Music
The wedding ceremony tends to include softer and more romantic pieces. It usually consists of classical wedding music 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 – special to the couple – as the bride walks down the aisle. The most joyous music is played in the recessional, when the bride and groom leave together.
You can think about adding some special songs at different points in the ceremony as well, such as after exchanging the rings and vows, lighting the unity candle, or taking communion.
Here are the main wedding ceremony music sections to plan for:
– The Prelude: When guests start arriving at the ceremony location. Classical wedding music can be most appropriate here.
– The Processional: When the bridal party and the bride make their entrance. Classical wedding music is traditional here.
– The Ceremony: When the bride and groom are married.
– The Recessional: As the bride and groom walk back down the aisle and out of the ceremony site.
For more information on wedding ceremony music see the following:
Planning Dance & Party Music
Before you even start prepping for your wedding music, you’ll have to decide what kind of entertainment you’ll want at the party. Do you want a live band or a DJ playing all of your favorite tracks? Depending on what you decide, you may have a more limited song list to go by.
How To Hire & Work With Live Entertainment
There are so many different routes to take when it comes to live entertainment. Everything from a classical quartet for your ceremony music, a pianist to jazz up cocktail hour or a cover band to make the most out of your rented dance floor, this all comes down to exactly what type of celebration you want your guests to experience.
Of course, you can mix and match too or hire the band or trio for a specific segment of the party. Don’t limit yourself to one style if you want to add different vibes to each and every event of the night.
It’s important that you go through some type of interview process as well. Make sure you’ve seen the artists play live and chat with them a bit to make sure you’ll be getting exactly what you want before you hire and sign the contract.
How To Hire & Work With A DJ
Maybe you want a DJ to take the reigns of the party and be able to spin all kinds of music at any given moment. Most of the time your DJ will also act as master of ceremonies too which is a huge added benefit. You will even have the ease and ability to create a playlist without any added pressure to a live band that may have to learn your favorite songs from scratch.
Of course, you’ve got to go through an interview process here as well. Take a look at the DJ’s portfolio, experience and most importantly, their reviews online. Make sure you get acquainted with him/her in a way that you feel comfortable hiring him/her for your big day and they understand how you want the celebration to flow.
Hiring a Band/DJ: Do’s & Dont’s
DON’T hire blindly or just by word of mouth.
DO plan your dance floor space around the number of guests that are attending and make sure there’s enough room for a band or DJ to set up.
DON’T hire a one-dimensional band for the reception. Your guests will easily be bored with the same genre played over and over.
DO ask questions. No matter if you’re hiring a live band or a DJ, it’s important to ask questions such as:
- Are weddings your primary focus? Have you performed/DJed at weddings before?
- Can you help us create a song list? Do you have any preferred suggestions?
- How/Can you handle song requests?
- Can I hear you play / Can I hear some examples of mixed tracks?
- Do you like to get the crowd pumped?
- Do you have your own sound equipment?
- Do you have specific packages / What’s included in your package / How long will you be available to play for?
- Do you have liability insurance?
DO tell them about your reception space and make sure they’re acquainted with the acoustics, space available, etc.
DON’T take responsibility of setting up the music equipment. Make sure someone from their company is prepared to do that job.
DO make sure there’s a sick day policy included in your package. If someone from the band comes down with the flu, there needs to be a Plan B in place.
DO check the venue for amperage and outlets if you plan to hire a live band.
Top Wedding Songs By Genre
Even if you plan to rage on the dance floor all night long, you’ll want to throw a few classics in the midst of all the fun. Break up the party just a bit for a softer swing on the dance floor and for everyone to catch their breath. Besides, Grandma will thank you for these ones.
- “We’ve Only Just Begun” The Carpenters
- “Have I Told You Lately” Rod Stewart
- “The Way You Look Tonight” Frank Sinatra
- “Love Me Tender” Elvis Presley
- “At Last” Etta James
- “Can’t Help Falling In Love” Elvis Presley
- “Sugar Sugar” The Archies
- “My Girl” The Temptations
- “I Got You Babe” Sonny and Cher
- “What A Wonderful World” Louis Armstrong
Maybe you’ve got a taste for country music. There are tons of great songs to choose from in this genre that will fill up the party with southern flavor. From ballads to those that will make a line dance break out, here’s some of the best.
- “Sweet Home Alabama” Lynard Skynard
- “She’s Everything” Brad Paisley
- “Ring of Fire” Johnny Cash
- “Check Yes or No” George Strait
- “Love Story” Taylor Swift
- “I Loved Her First” Heartland
- “Don’t Blink” Kenny Chesney
- “Amazed” Lonestar
- “Breathe” Faith Hill
- “Honey Bee” Blake Shelton
Pop music will usually be the biggest hit of the night. Most people will have heard the trendy songs and it’ll get them pumped and out on the dance floor. Throw several of these fan favorites in the mix to keep the party going.
- “Umbrella” Rhianna
- “Bad Romance” Lady Gaga
- “Raise Your Glass” Pink
- “Shake It Off” Taylor Swift
- “Marry You” Bruno Mars
- “Can’t Stop This Feeling” Justin Timberlake
- “Call Me Maybe” Carly Rae Jepsen
- “Best Song Ever” One Direction
- “Firework” Katy Perry
- “Moves Like Jagger” Maroon 5
Although, the party just isn’t complete without a few hip hop songs thrown in too. Use some of the most popular from years gone by to get everyone pumped in the crowd. These are great for breaking the ice.
- “21 Questions” 50 Cent
- “Baby Got Back” Sir Mix-A-Lot
- “Work It” Missy Elliot
- “My House” Flo Rida
- “Rapper’s Delight” Sugar Hill Gang
- “Hot In Herre” Nelly
- “Let’s Get It Started” Black Eyed Peas
- “Big Poppa” Notorious B.I.G.
- “Da Dip” Freak Nasty
- “Love Lockdown” Kanye West
Having ballads on the playlist to break up the faster dances are a must! A bit of romance for couples to show off their slower moves will help round out the evening in a more balanced way. Here are ten that will win over the crowd every time.
- “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” Elton John
- “Marry Me” Train
- “All of Me” John Legend
- “Thinking Out Loud” Ed Sheeran
- “Come Away With Me” Norah Jones
- “I Won’t Give Up” Jason Mraz
- “All My Life” K-Ci and JoJo
- “Crazy Love” Van Morrison
- “One and Only” Adele
- “I Could Not Ask For More” Edwin McCain
Maybe you’ve planned a destination wedding on the beach or maybe you want to bring a bit of your family’s culture to the dance floor. Whatever the case, adding some tropical tunes to your playlist can make the party even more fun and full of festivity!
- “Is This Love” Bob Marley
- “Kingstown Down” UB40
- “Jammin” Bob Marley
- “Exotic” Priyanka Chopra & Pitbull
- “Zumba” Don Omar
- “Hips Don’t Lie” Shakira
- “Feeling Hot Hot Hot” The Merrymen
- “Beach in Hawaii” Ziggy Marley
- “La Bamba” Ritchie Valens
- “Angel” Shaggy
Of course you’ve got to throw in some oldies as well. This will delight your older guests and get everyone moving and grooving together. These are the ones the entire crowd will sing along with too!
- “Hound Dog” Elvis Presley
- “Rock Around the Clock” Bill Haley and The Comets
- “Chapel of Love” The Dixie Cups
- “Respect” Aretha Franklin
- “Under the Boardwalk” The Drifters
- “The Twist” Chubby Checker
- “Ain’t To Proud To Beg” The Temptations
- “Rockin’ Robin” Bobby Day
- “That’s Amore” Dean Martin
- “The Loco-Motion” Little Eva
Adding some dance songs to the mix will help out. A couple of your favorites thrown in while everyone is already out and about on the dance floor will keep the celebration flowing. You’ll be surprised how many of your family members already know how to do the Cupid Shuffle!
- “Cupid Shuffle” Cupid
- “Twist and Shout” Beatles
- “Shut Up and Dance” Walk the Moon
- “Shout” Isley Brothers
- “Footloose” Kenny Loggins
- “Single Ladies” Beyonce
- “Cha Cha Slide” DJ Casper
- “We Are Family” Sister Sledge
- “Celebration” Kool and the Gang
- “Play That Funky Music” Wild Cherry
- “YMCA” The Village People
Of course, the party isn’t over until a few rock’n’roll songs have been played. Whether it’s a rock ballad or something to heighten the energy of the event, here are some of the top rock tunes for a wedding.
- “Livin’ On A Prayer” Bon Jovi
- “Just Breathe” Pearl Jam
- “Crash Into Me” Dave Matthews Band
- “Don’t Stop Believin’” Journey
- “True Love Waits” Radiohead
- “Love Song” The Cure
- “Iris” Goo Goo Dolls
- “White Wedding” Billy Idol
- “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” Rolling Stones
- “You Shook Me All Night Long” AC/DC
Wedding Songs by Year: