Wedding Reception Music Guide

Many people only think of the main dance portion when preparing to select reception music. However, there are many traditions, standard songs, design elements and other moments to consider. The Wedding Reception Music Guide will help you to know all of the possible moments for special songs, offer expert suggestions, and get you thinking about the type of music, lighting and events you want at your reception.

DJ Part A can provide the guidance, creativity and equipment to help you get exactly what you want at your event. Whether your vision is ultimate elegance, casual and quiet, or a wild night of partying, choosing the right music and lighting is crucial to achieving an unforgettable event.

Grand March or Introductions

Will you be announcing the arrival of your wedding party at the reception? Perhaps just introducing the bride and groom? DJ Part A provides the sound system and microphones needed for these activities, and can even host or make announcements!
DJ Part A picks:

  • “Crazy In Love” – Beyoncé and Jay-Z
    It’s dramatic, it’s got a great message, and it’s perfect if you plan on dancing out!
  • “Sirius” – The Alan Parsons Project
    Most know it as the Chicago Bulls opening song, and it’s become an absolute go-to for entrance music. Never fails to get everyone pumped!
  • “Marche de Triomphe” – Charpentier
    Beautiful and powerful, one of the best traditional/classical entrance songs. It’s the kind of music royalty enters to.
  • “Clocks” – Coldplay
    Slightly understated for a more casual entrance. Powerful, beautiful and sophisticated nonetheless.
  • “It Takes Two” – Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock
    The lyric is on-point and the beat is timeless. Perfect if you are dancing out, or doing a choreographed dance or flash mob.
  • “Royal Fireworks Music, Overture” – Händel
    Very traditional, but also very “official” sounding. People stand up when they hear this one.
  • “Going to the Chapel of Love” – The Shirelles
    Simply adorable. The song is so sweet, it makes those entering seem even sweeter, too! A great choice if you want something simple and elegant.
  • “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” – Dropkick Murphys
    For a more rocking couple and crowd. The dramatic Irish Jig-i-ness makes it sound strangely traditional, but of course it also rocks.
  • “Now That We Found Love” – Heavy D and the Boyz
    Fun and playful, great for dancing, and it’s totally romantic. And yes, I stole the idea from the movie “Hitch.”
  • “Get Ready For This” – 2 Unlimited
    You know it, it’s the “Y’all Ready for this?” song! People can’t really avoid dancing when this one drops.

Dinner Music

There are several popular themes recommended for the music played during the dinner/cocktail portion of the reception. A playlist of individual songs is usually not chosen by the wedding couple, as this music is only intended as background to enhance the mood while guests are having conversations.

DJ Part A picks:

  • String Quartet. My favorite choice. These groups record most popular songs in all genres. A perfect mix of sophisticated sound and your favorite songs.
  • Classical. The standard choice for an ultra-elegant affair. We generally recommend upbeat, well-known pieces in a major key to support the lively mood.
  • Smooth Jazz. Sinatra, Bublé, Ella Fitzgerald and so on. Super classy, but slightly more up-tempo. Always a hit.
  • Modern. Popular songs in any genre (that aren’t too distracting) can be the right choice for a more casual affair.

Special Dances

There are a host of traditional dances that occur during the main dance portion of the reception. You may choose to perform all, some or none of these dances, but most include the following:

First Dance. This is the most common special dance. The bride and groom step onto the dance floor alone and dance to the first song of the evening. The song choice here is usually personal; there are no standard choices. It’s generally best to pick out a special/favorite song shared by the couple. But, if you’re looking for ideas…
DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “It Had to be You” – Harry Connick Jr
  • “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
  • “When You Say Nothing At All” – Alison Krauss
  • “Fools Rush In” – Elvis Presley
  • “All Of Me” – John Legend
  • “God Only Knows” – The Beach Boys

While some dance to an entire song, many couples arrange to have the their parents join them part-way into the song, and eventually cut-in and swap partners. This eliminates the need for a separate father/daughter and mother/groom dance. You can also have the bridal party join in at some point after that, so that by the second song all guests feel welcome to join in dancing.

Father-Daughter Dance This is usually the second dance of the evening, following the couple’s first dance, where the father-of-the-bride joins and takes his daughters hand from the groom. Again, there are no standards here. It’s most common to choose a special song shared by the dancing couple.
DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “My Darling” – Wilco
  • “My Girl” – The Temptations
  • “I Loved Her First” – Heartland
  • “Isn’t She Lovely”  – Stevie Wonder
  • “Daddy” – Beyoncé

If the first dance is designated for the couple alone, then it’s very common for others to join part-way through the father/daughter dance. Generally it’s the mother/son first, followed by the other parents/grandparents, and then the wedding party. Then, before the song ends, you can invite all guests to join after the wedding party is on dance floor. This arrangement has several key benefits. It creates a nice transition into the main dancing portion of the reception, and gets everyone out on the dance floor right away!

Dollar Dance.The dollar dance has become a staple at wedding receptions, and allows you a chance to make-back some of the money you’re spending on the event! You may need to go through 3 or 4 songs, and they’re generally slow/mid tempo to allow simple dancing. There are no standard song choices, but well-known country, pop or rock ballads are generally recommended.

Cake Cutting. You can do many things with this choice, from sophisticated to completely silly or wild. Maybe something with a “cake” or “cutting” reference? How about the band Cake?
DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “Lips Like Sugar” – Echo and the Bunnymen
  • “Cut the Cake” – Average White Band
  • “How Sweet It Is” – Michael Buble
  • “Sugar” – Maroon 5
  • “Cuts Like a Knife” – Bryan Adams
  • “Love You Madly” – Cake
  • “Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton

Bouquet Toss. You can get creative with this one. There are no traditional songs for this, and its generally something to have fun with.
DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen
  • “Single Ladies” – Beyoncé
  • “One Way or Another” – Blondie
  • “Maneater” – Hall & Oates
  • “Wishin’ and Hopin'” – Dusty Springfield

Main Dance

The best general advice for choosing the main dance playlist is to play mostly popular pop and dance songs you and your wedding party will be most nostalgic about A wedding dance is an event that generates a lot of nostalgia, so even if you follow new music, older songs from your formative years will often make everyone more likely to get and stay on the dance floor. If you’re 20 years old this may be the most current hits, but if you’re older it’s usually better to play songs from when you were that age.

Don’t worry about pleasing all the guests; they will be too diverse in age and taste to try to please them all. Focus on what you and your wedding party would most want to dance to.

It can be difficult to make a complete playlist for your event. In most cases, it’s best to just take a few moments to list some of the songs you want, or do not want, to have played. Whether it’s a big list or just a few songs, your DJ will choose the rest based on your list and his or her own expertise and experience.

Other music to consider:


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