Music — it’s such a magical way to express the emotion behind your wedding day, the mood you want to set for your guests, and it can convey an authentic glimpse inside the bride’s and groom’s personalities.
Although choosing a playlist for such a momentous occasion may seem overwhelming at first, finding trusted vendors (or even a music buff friend) can be the first step toward musical bliss, from the first notes of the father-daughter dance to the dance beats serenading the last of the night’s revellers.
After a tearful and beautiful wedding ceremony, there is no better way to have fun and let loose than dancing at the reception.
Of course, you will need a great playlist of music to keep the party going.
Setting up a perfect reception playlist is no easy job considering everything you have to take into account, such as how long the reception will last, where to fit slow dances in, and songs to get guests on the dance floor. Looking for the best Wedding Photographer in Melbourne? Check out our ultimate list here.
To make it easier, these suggestions ease the planning process of your wedding reception playlist for your exciting wedding party.
Tips to Create a Playlist for Your Wedding Reception
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you set up your playlist for your wedding reception.
As you take note of these, be true to you and your fiancé’s musical tastes. Nothing is worse than having to listen to music you don’t like on your big day.
Enjoy the process, and you will be ready for a fun reception.
The first decision? Whether you’ll be hiring a band, DJ or putting together a DIY iTunes playlist.
If hiring a band or DJ, consider giving them some creative license to read the crowd and use their professional expertise in song selection; however, it’s essential to convey a few pieces of crucial information.
Discuss genres of music and artists that you do (and do not) want to hear at your wedding, and provide a detailed account of the order of events so they can plan to usher guests from cocktail hour to the meal to the dance party with music that will set the right vibe for each setting.
You’ll also want to discuss any toasts that might be happening, as well as scheduled “dances,” like father-daughter, mother-son and bride-and-groom.
Many couples today are opting to play the part of DJ themselves by creating an iTunes playlist and letting it play through the entire event.
The beauty of this option is that it gives the bride and groom complete control over exactly which songs are and are not played throughout the evening — it can genuinely be a compilation of their favourites!
However, it does take more advanced preparation, so finding a music enthusiast friend to help with song selection and being responsible for controlling the electronics and speakers the day of the event is a great idea.
Keep in mind that while an iPod is more compact, playing music from a laptop works well for a more extended event since it typically has more memory and allows you to add songs to your list seamlessly.
And be sure to provide a little extra time on each song list. For example, if an hour is allotted for the dinner portion of the reception, including an hour and a half of music on the “dinner” playlist in case it runs over.
Recognize Sometimes It Is a Popularity Contest
Spotify figured out which songs were most often added to users’ wedding playlists.
Nothing on this list surprises me. You’ve got a representation of up-tempo fun songs with ‘Hey Ya!’ and ‘Uptown Funk.’
These songs are very romantic, with an appropriate message for a wedding like ‘I’m Yours’ or ‘Marry You.’
Then you’ve got John Legend’s song ‘All of Me’ that’s been popular since its release because Legend wrote that song about Chrissy Teigen, and it’s all about how much he adores her. What bride wouldn’t like to echo that sentiment at her wedding?
Even if you feel like some songs, such as Pharrell’s “Happy” or JT’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” are overplayed on the radio, they can take on new life at a wedding.
They’re still great additions because most of your guests will have heard them, and they’re such feel-good tracks. They encourage your guests to move or sing, and they’re also great for younger kids.
Embrace the Crossover
Pop. Country. Rock. Hip-hop. What do all these genres have in common—besides a hit song featuring Nelly?
They can all feel at home on a reception playlist. I think anything goes at weddings. Most of the time, you’ve got a mix of genres.
It’s all about what makes people happy and puts them in the mood to dance. So it makes sense that you’re going to have the whole spectrum.
While you and your sorority sisters may have an entire choreographed routine to “Crazy in Love,” maybe your mom and her pals have an equivalent with ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”
So go ahead and put Frank Sinatra, Notorious B.I.G., and Dolly Parton in a room together; you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before. At Brighton Savoy, we have compiled a list of the Best Photobooth Hires in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.
Serenade Your Guests—Even If It’s Weird
If your wedding day is simultaneously the only time your kooky aunt is willing to fly across the country and the only time she’s game to juju on that beat, you’ve got to make the most of it.
You can’t expect every song to cater to absolutely everybody. What you can do is include specific pieces for specific guests, especially if they’re travelling far distances to come to your wedding.
That is such a big commitment and such a loving thing for them to do. So it’s nice to sprinkle in one or two songs they especially would appreciate.”
Poll guests on what songs they’d like to hear beforehand, or include a song suggestion space on the RSVP card.
And are there certain songs that encourage people to let their freak flags fly?
Songs that include extreme emotion are great songs for weddings, explicitly mentioning Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Hey Ya!” by Outkast.
We also recommend up-tempo songs that appeal across generations.
If your mom loves Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ and that’s a song that’s going to get her excited, why not put it in there?
It’s a song for many people. My 4-year-old daughter loves that song, and my mom knows that song.
Mind Your Do-Not-Play List
We’ve already established the power music has over people’s emotions, so be careful. If a song or the bad memory (read: ex-boyfriend) behind a piece has made it onto your list of names “in red underlined,” keep it off your playlist.
Even if it’s a song that everybody loves, if you have some negative association with it, you don’t want to hear it at your wedding—where you should be as happy as can be.
Similarly, if there’s a song that will upset someone else at your wedding, it’s probably best to leave it off too.
You don’t want sad songs, and you don’t wish to songs with perhaps overly offensive lyrics, who switched out explicit tracks here for their radio-friendly versions—a good idea if you’ve invited the entirety of the tee-ball team you coach on weekends.
It’s better to be safe, and sometimes it’s more fun to yell obscenities over the censored silence anyway.
Save the First Dance for Everyone
At this point in your process, we don’t doubt you’ve stockpiled your playlist with gems of jams, but only one belongs at the top of your list chronologically.
It’s always good to kick off the dance floor portion of your wedding with the right tone. That tone is, it’s party time! Encourage people to dance.
The first song must be a beacon, its bright hoppiness guiding your guests away from their hesitations and insecurities toward a warm, safe place to dab, drop, and Dougie all night long.
Curating the perfect wedding reception playlist is something of an art form. It takes a taste, grace, and planning.
You want to make sure that every second of this celebration is accounted for.
From pop-tastic tunes to classic tracks, you need to make sure that the roster has something for every single wedding guest. It’s a tall order.
Choose Your Favorite Songs with Your Fiancé
One of the most romantic moments of a wedding will be the first dance between the groom and bride at the reception. This is the perfect slot to include that one song that you and your fiancé love.
Don’t be pressured to pick a song that seems acceptable to the guests. This is your moment, so choose the theme that represents your love for each other.
When searching for other songs to play after the first dance, throw in a mix of your favourite dance songs with slower music.
If your reception lasts a few hours, the guests will get burned out from dancing the entire time.
Inserting one slow song per 5 upbeat songs will allow you and the guests to relax and talk to each other.
Have fun when choosing your song list. This is your big day, after all.
Add a mix of genres.
Not everyone will be thrilled to listen to Frank Sinatra all night, and some might be terrified if all you play is Top 40 rap hits.
To get a good reaction from the crowd, make sure to mix up classic love songs with modern dance hits, and so on.
Play 1 slow song for every five fast songs
It’s super important to keep a fluctuation in the tempo/energy of the music. If you constantly play one quick hit after another, the crowd is going to burn out quickly.
Think of it as a graph that oscillates up and down. You want to gradually build the crowd up and then take them back down slowly, so they have a chance to relax.
Avoid any overly negative or non-romantic songs.
Trust us, and there have been TONS of times where we heard something on the radio and thought, “this is so romantic!” until we listened to the words and realized it was anything but! That being said, choose wisely.
Listen to your entire playlist.
You may not want to do this in one sitting as it could take hours, but if you’re DJ’ing the big day via iTunes or an app, you’ll want to make sure that there are no awkward gaps, moments of silence, or weird transitions.
If there are, you can use Wedding Republic’s advice for fixing those issues!
Stay true to your musical tastes.
Quite simply, if you don’t like the country, don’t play it.
If you can’t stand the thought of listening to “Don’t Stop Believin” one more time, that’s fine! Your musical tastes reflect you and your fiancé as a couple, so don’t be afraid to showcase that!
Request Songs from Friends and Family
You will likely struggle to find over 120 wedding songs for your playlist to last the entire reception.
Asking friends and family for a list of songs is a great way to relieve some of the pressure from you and your fiancé and include music that you may not have thought of.
These requests can be handwritten, especially if you decide to host a wedding playlist-making party. However, if you find yourself too busy speaking one-on-one with everyone directly, you can set up a public playlist on your music platform for others to add their song selection.
Spotify offers an option for you and others to add songs that will play in the order you would like. This is just one of the many platforms that makes wedding playlists easy to create.
Let others help you and your fiancé make the perfect wedding reception playlist.
Identify Wrong Song Choices
Keep in mind that a wedding is a romantic event. Therefore, you should avoid non-romantic or negative song choices.
Also, take note of which song will be played at specific times. For example, you don’t want the Cupid Shuffle to be playing when the bride and her father are having a father/daughter dance.
If you have requested songs from friends and family, make sure to review the song choices to eliminate the ones that do not match your musical style.
It is essential to stay open to multiple genres, but you do not want to dislike the majority of your playlist.
Overall, a good playlist displays the style and love of the couple. I love the songs, and you will enjoy the reception.
Review the Playlist
Once you have created the playlist, all there is left to do is the final touches. Take at least thirty minutes out of your day to listen to the playlist to correct any issues with transitions.
You want to avoid any awkward silences between each song. Also, make sure the list is in the correct order for your reception. As said, there should be one slow song for every upbeat music. Position the songs in a way that the hype is built and gradually slows down.
Once you have listened to and rearranged your songs, you are ready for your wedding day!
Questions Also Asked
How many songs do you need for a wedding playlist?
This answer depends on how long your reception will last. A reasonable estimate will be to add 120-150 songs to your playlist for a two to three-hour reception.
If you are unsure how long the reception will be, add even more songs to prepare for a lengthy reception. It is better to have too much music than too little.
Do you need a DJ at a wedding?
Many couples decide to DJ their wedding. However, it is just as easy to let an intelligent device play the songs with our technology.
You will have to check the transitions and timing of each song before the wedding to make sure the reception music does not have any awkward changes or pieces that do not match the mood.
What songs should you NOT play at a wedding?
Always try to play romantic songs or songs that will make the crowd want to dance. Avoid any non-romantic or downbeat songs.
Songs like “Fake Love” by Drake will be very ironic for the occasion unless that is the idea you are going for.
Also, take into account who will be there. You would likely want to play a vulgar song in front of minor children or your elders. You can make a “do not play” list for undesirable songs.
Making a wedding playlist will take effort and patience. However, don’t let yourself get stressed over the song choices.
Wedding music should be fun and emotional, so enjoy the process to ensure the best outcome. Let your musical passion show through your wedding reception playlist.
Hopefully, this guide will help lead you on your way to creating the ultimate wedding reception playlist that perfectly suits you and your fiancé. Here at Brighton Savoy, we have compiled an exclusive list of Wedding Photo Locations in Melbourne to help you decide on your special day.
It’s going to take some time, but after you’ve finished, you won’t be able to contain your excitement to get out on the dance floor!