Choosing Your Wedding Music
One of the main things that will affect the overall tone of your wedding are the music choices. Everyone has different taste in music and we find this is a great way to make your wedding unique and truly representative of your vibe. Think of your music choices as the soundtrack to your wedding day.
Over the years, we’ve found the task of making these choices often gets left to last minute by our clients. If you’ve hired a professional wedding DJ, you won’t have to worry about choosing every single song played at your wedding, but you will want to give them some guidance! The reality is, there are SO MANY choices and getting started can be difficult!
We’ve written this blog post to help you figure out which songs you will want to consider choosing yourself and generally where to get started. We are excited to share some of our own tips as well as advice and song selections from two of our favorite DJs in the industry.
Prelude music is played in the 20-30 before the ceremony officially begins. This is typically when your guests are first arriving. The idea behind it is to have some mood music that lets your guests know they are at the right place at the right time. We suggest choosing a genre and letting your DJ or musicians work off their repertoire. Basically, you want to have music playing to set the tone.
Some typical genres are classical, Hawaiian music, and mellow acoustic contemporary covers. We suggest choosing a genre that pairs well with your processional song choices.
Wedding Party Processional
This is the song that is played while the groom, parents, and wedding party walk down the aisle. One of our favorite weddings that we worked with DJ Troy Michael, the groom and his musician friends performed Seven Bridges Road for the wedding party processional. This sets the mood for the rest of the day and was a great reflection of the couples taste in music and talent.
Some of our favorite memories at weddings are of when the bride walks down the aisle. Last spring, we worked with a couple and the bride chose a cover of La Vie En Rose by Edith Piaf for her walk down the aisle. Seeing life through rose colored glasses was the perfect way to describe that moment.
DJ Troy Michael shared one of his most memorable processional stories with us.
This particular couple met at an EDM music festival and both shared a love for EDM music. The bride walked out to EDM dance song, Eyes by Kaskade. The songs lyrics and pumpin EDM vibe totally matched the couple and also set the tone for a very EDM festival like atmosphere which the couple wanted. Another great thing with the song, it was a very slow progressive building song which worked well as the walk to the ceremony site at this venue was a long one. He was able to pace out the slow build up of energy with the song to have the drop (climax) of the song happen right when she reached the the ceremony seating. At this moment, she raised her hands and bouquet up and all of the guest erupting in a cheer. After the drop in the song the chorus “Look into my eyes” played as she walked that last 20 feet to the groom. It was super high energy and romantic all at the same time.
Whatever you choose for this moment, we encourage you to select something meaningful to you.
If you take any advice on this, we highly suggest choosing something up beat! Basically, you want something celebratory (think happy tears, fist pumps and confetti flying).
DJ Troy Michael shared this sage advice, “For recessional songs, I generally recommend that the song should be fun, upbeat and happy. When played it should typically be cued to start at the chorus of the song.”
He listed a few popular ones for us:
We asked Crichton from The Perfect Wedding DJs to share a few unique ones that he loved from past events:
We encourage you to think of your own favorite happy upbeat song to mark the moment!
Cocktail Hour Music vs. Dinner Music
A common question we get from our clients is “How do you recommend differentiating your cocktail hour music from your dinner music?”
Crichton of The Perfect Wedding DJs suggests the following:
I like the flow of the day to mimic a the arc of a DJ set. A gradual build is usually good for most crowds.
Cocktail hour is good for Folk music like Jack Johnson, Iron & Wine, Amos Lee, Angus & Julia Stone, etc. Also, Vocal music like Sinatra, Norah Jones, Bublé, etc.
Dinner time I like to slowly raise the energy level. So I'd start off with the same feel of the Cocktail Hour and then towards the end of Dinner work in some more fun and slightly more upbeat music, like Motown, some of the fun 90's & 00's R&B and Hip-Hop (that I’m not planning on using during the dance), or even some mid tempo 80's, etc.
Overall you want it to be background music, but still play a part in building the energy in preparation for dancing.
Wedding Party Grand Entrance
This is the moment when all your guests have found their seats for dinner and the MC introduces the members of the wedding party.
DJ Troy Michael says:
I love it when each pair (groomsmen/bridesmaid) pick their own song to get introduced to. This is usually very fun as the wedding party really gets into having fun with the song because the can choose it and it also becomes very competitive. It also generally leads to a build of energy and ends with the intro of the bride and groom.
If you have a large wedding party, having a song for each couple may stretch things out too long. Instead, choosing one song for the whole wedding party can be more efficient. In that case, Crichton from The Perfect Wedding DJs suggests a few of his favorites:
Regardless, getting your wedding party involved in the choice (or choices) is always a good idea.
Newlywed Grand Entrance
Immediately after the wedding party is introduced, this is when the MC introduces the Newlyweds into the reception. This is another good opportunity to choose something meaningful. We suggest thinking of your anthem as a couple.
Crichton of The Perfect Wedding DJs gave us a few unique examples from past events that he loved:
Maybe my favorite music artist ever. My cousin asked me to DJ his wedding and when I saw he wanted to walk out to this song, I was stoked. For the grand entrance I asked the crowd to stand as the orchestral introduction played. It dies out and there's a short pause before the song comes back in, that's when I announced them. The crowd began to applaud and then they walked in right as the song came back up. It was a very powerful moment. I still get the feels just thinking about it.
It is also important to remember, you will likely not be playing the whole song, rather approx 30 seconds of it. Make sure it has a great intro or designated starting point in order for it to be impactful! Your DJ can help figure out the perfect timing.
During the ceremonial cake cutting, it is always nice to choose a specific song. You can always leave this choice up to your DJ if you are struggling to choose a specific song. However, DJ Troy Michael suggests using a song that maybe didn’t make the first dance final cut.
Crichton from The Perfect Wedding DJs gave us a few of his favorite suggestions as well:
Birthday Cake x Cut It Mash-Up - Rihanns x O.T. Genasis
Along with the processional, this is probably one of the most important song choices you will make for your wedding. As much as we can suggest popular choices, we highly encourage you to select something meaningful and special to you.
A few that Crichton from The Perfect Wedding DJs listed as personal favorites are:
A tip we always share with our clients is that you likely will not want to dance the entire duration of the song you choose for your first dance. The best way to handle communicating you are ready to wrap up your first dance is to discuss some sort of signal with your DJ or wedding planner prior to the wedding day. That way, once you’ve had your moment, you can give them a nod (or whatever your secret pre planned signal is) and they will know to fade the song out. We find this is better than determining a specific point in the song ahead of time. You never know if you are just over it earlier than expected OR perhaps you are loving the moment so much, you want to have it last the entire length of the song. Either way, this is the best way to play it by ear on the wedding day.
One solid tip we got from DJ Troy Michael for this category is that he often recommends you the give the song selection choice to your father or mother. It is just as much their special moment as it is yours and this is great way to get them involved.
Crichton from The Perfect Wedding DJs suggested a few of his favorites from past events:
Father Daughter Dance
Mother Son Dance
Kicking off the Dance Floor
DJ Troy Michael advises:
This is also something that will be different from wedding to wedding. My recommendation is leave this choice to the DJ. A great DJ will be able to read the crowd and play the right song to start things off.
If you feel the need to be specific, Crichton from the Perfect Wedding DJs gave us a few suggestions:
If you aren’t sure if you will have a crowd ready to cut loose on the dancefloor straight away, DJ Troy Michael suggests inviting all couples to join the bride and groom on the dancefloor for a slow dance and then slowly transition into more upbeat dance music.
We hope that this outline helps you get an idea of where to start and what types of songs have been a success in the past. Something that all the DJ’s we interviewed repeatedly emphasized is that the best song choices are the ones that are MEANINGFUL TO YOU as a couple!