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Tips for Choosing Music for Your Wedding

Wedding Music: Tips for Building Your Playlist

When you're planning your wedding day, the playlist you hand over to your DJ (or give to your wedding band, or cue up on your iPod) can be one of the most fun details to develop. Music is a great way to reflect your personality and set the tone for a party, whether you want an old-school feel or a modern, clubby vibe.

Your first inclination when picking the music for your reception might be to reach for your favorite college dance party mix, the latest Fergie song you've been jogging to, or the top hits from the '80s. But most weddings include guests from all age groups and walks of life, and your music choices should be sensitive to their needs. Some of your favorite songs might seem harmless enough on your iPod, but they could make for some awkward situations when played for a big, age-diverse crowd. Think about chatting with your grandfather with Madonna's "Like a Virgin" on in the background — not so fun. Accidentally including the explicit version of a song that seemed so innocuous on the radio could also make things uncomfortable.

I've been thinking through some of the best weddings I've attended, and often, the music was a big part of what made them so special. I've come up with some great playlists from a variety of genres that I'll be sharing throughout the week, but for now, to check out a couple of easy tips for music that will help guarantee a memorable day (not to mention get people out of their chairs and onto the dance floor), just


  • If you're hiring a DJ or band, be clear about your likes and especially your dislikes. No "Electric Slide" or "Macarena"? Make it known — in writing.
  • Think about the kind of feel you want your reception to have. Is it a high-energy party? Go heavy on the up-tempo tunes. Want a dreamier, more romantic tone? Include your favorite love songs from a variety of decades.
  • It's usually impossible to please everybody, but music is one area where you can try. Know that your aunt and uncle love salsa dancing? Ask them to recommend a few tunes — and make sure they're willing to show off their moves. You could even include a spot on your response cards for guests to suggest their favorite dancing songs.
  • Have a song that you absolutely must have at your wedding — but fear it could baffle or even offend older relatives? Save it for late in the evening, when most of the remaining revelers will be your friends.

Have you experienced any fantastic wedding music moments — or, on the other hand, any awkward disasters? Remember, you can check out more wedding coverage at IDoSugar.


Join The Conversation
malmow malmow 8 years
My response cards had a space for song requests, but no one filled them out.
RentMyGear RentMyGear 9 years
Great ideas! I love the response card concept! You can also check out web based music playlist services like MixLister which lets you AND your guests create and comment on tunes for the wedding. My fiancee and I are using a small sound system I put together to spin our Laptop and iPod's. Less money and much more FUN!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
We Met with our DJ and had a list of "do not play" songs and we also made sure to tell him that if anyone requested those songs, to tell them that he didnt have them. Here are some examples The Bunny Hop The Electric Slide Celebration-Kool and the Gang Hot Hot Hot The Macarena The chicken dance YMCA The Conga locomotion hokey pokey I will always love you-either version every breath you take-the police I will survive-Gloria gaynor My heart will go on-titanic song Tequila-the champs
divinelight divinelight 9 years
My cousin and her husband are both big hams. At their wedding, they did a goofy hip hop dance and had lots of hip hop music playing. None of the older relatives seemed to mind.
lukal lukal 9 years
A lot of good advice - and I should know. I am an organist and play for many weddings.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
I have absolutely no idea what I would do with the music at my wedding if I ever got married. I don't like to dance and the music my family would want to hear has nothing to do with what I like, but they actually like to dance. All I can say for sure is there would be Chicken Dance, Macerena or anything like these.
Molly Molly 9 years
Thanks for the tips, Buzz. Kjell and I spent a lot of time talking about this last night and are coming up with an extensive list for the band and DJ. You know, it's not an issue of whether or not they'll be playing "Souja Boy"...its about when in the evening it will be appropriate...;)
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
Great tips, Buzz. Looking forward to the suggestions on your upcoming play lists!
true-love-waits true-love-waits 9 years
thank you! i am doing an ipod playlist for my wedding in july and i am so burnt out on trying to find songs.. i am going from the dreamier romantic songs for my cocktail reception.
Nitachequita Nitachequita 9 years
My friends' walked into their reception using the medal ceremony music from Star Wars ep IV (the groom is a BIG fan), but of course none of us know the music, so all night they were asked why they walked in using Darth Vader's theme. Wahahaha!
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