How To Create Your Perfect Wedding Reception Playlist

The amount that goes into planning a wedding can often leave you feeling overwhelmed. From organising the guest list to doing the venue research, to planning the styling and florals, to buying the all-important wedding dress, it can be easy to forget about one of the most important elements – the music.

The entertainment you book for your wedding is of the utmost importance. The right music has the power to turn a good wedding into a great one, because of all the memories that you and your guests can make together.

Wedding ceremony aside, your wedding reception (aka the wedding party) requires a playlist full of popular and contemporary songs, as well as iconic numbers, surprise moments and climaxes.

If you’re unsure on what songs should make it onto your wedding reception playlist, we have some ideas to spark your inspiration.

Will you choose a DJ or a live band?

First thing’s first: picking between a DJ and a live band. Both options have advantages, but both options also have their limitations.

Live band

A live band is perfect if your wedding is going to be formal, intimate, traditional or lavish. Live instruments together with a live singer can really bring an atmosphere to life and add something special to your day. Especially if you plan on your first dance being really moving, a live band is the right option for you.

In terms of the type of wedding bands you can choose, there are many variations that you can customise to suit your wedding style. Choose from:

  • Male vocalist
  • Female vocalist
  • Keyboardist
  • Violinist
  • Saxophonist
  • Double bassist

The formations of wedding bands you can choose include:

  • Solo vocals and guitar
  • Two-piece band
  • Three-piece band
  • Four-piece band
  • Five-piece band
  • Six-piece band
  • Seven-piece band
  • Eight-piece band

A wedding band can adapt their sound to suit all aspects of your wedding reception. They can play soft smooth jazz as background music during dinner and drinks, for example, and then play the couple’s chosen song for their first dance, and then later in the night, they can perform renditions on the most popular wedding songs to get the party started.

Hiring a live band to play at your wedding is a more expensive option, especially if the band is large. But, for a truly special day, it’s worth it.

DJ

In the price battle between live band vs DJ, a DJ is generally the cheaper option, due to the act consisting of just one person. Therefore, if your wedding budget is a little tight you may be more inclined to go with this.

A DJ may be right for you if you want your wedding to be fun and relaxed, and if you want your guests to be able to request whatever song they please throughout the night.

A good DJ will have access to thousands of songs, meaning that the chance of them not being able to play a requested song is slim. A DJ will also play the song exactly as the guests know it, which may encourage them to sing along or get up onto the dance floor.

It is recommended to check out the DJ before you book them and do proper research because if the DJ doesn’t have the right personality to suit you and your guests, your evening could fall flat.

Curating a playlist

Both professional wedding bands and DJs will have a plethora of pre-made playlists at your disposal. While you should definitely take a look at them for inspiration, it is more special to create your own.

As a rule, the wedding party section of your day should feature two big musical peaks. This is when the songs build and build in succession until there is a big and iconic number played where all the guests are on their feet. Then, after the climactic musical moment is over, there should be a slower song where the guests can recharge and refuel. Don’t be concerned when the dancefloor empties, though, because, over the next hour or two, there will be another musical peak where all the guests will be back on the floor.

If you’re unsure how to create a playlist with these peaks in mind, you can always give a list of your favourite songs to your wedding band or DJ, and ask them to put them in a logical order. This may be better for them, too, as they can work out a plan of action to best deliver your music.

Popular songs

Your wedding reception playlist should be full of songs that are special to you and your partner, as well as popular wedding songs that your guests will expect to hear.

If you’re really stuck on music, think back to the best weddings you’ve ever attended and the musical highlights of that evening.

For some inspiration, check out this list of most popular wedding songs:

    • “ABC” – The Jackson 5
    • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars
    • “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – Whitney Houston
    • “Single Ladies” – Beyoncé
    • “Hey, Ya!” – OutKast
    • “…Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears
    • “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke, T.I. Pharrell Williams
    • “Summer Nights” – Grease
  • “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira, Wyclef Jean
  • “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” – The Darkness
  • “Crazy In Love” – Beyoncé
  • “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi
  • “Take On Me” – a-ha
  • “Love On Top” – Beyoncé
  • “Mr Brightside” – The Killers
  • “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd
  • “Dancing Queen” – ABBA
  • “One Step Beyond” – Madness
  • “Lose Yourself To Dance” – Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams
  • “How Deep Is Your Love” – Calvin Harris, Disciples
  • “Work” – Rihanna, Drake
  • “Kiss” – Prince
  • “Africa” – Toto
  • “Get It On” – Marvin Gaye
  • “Respect” – Aretha Franklin
  • “Crazy In Love” – Beyoncé
  • “Don’t Stop Believing” – Journey
  • “Shut Up And Dance” – WALK THE MOON
  • “Feel The Love” – Rudimental, John Newman
  • “What Makes You Beautiful” – One Direction
  • “Gold Digger” – Kanye West, Jamie Foxx
  • “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers

In terms of creating a musical peak, the climactic songs in this list are:

  • “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – Whitney Houston
  • “Summer Nights” – Grease
  • “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” – The Darkness
  • “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi
  • “Africa” – Toto

Conclusion

Ultimately, what you choose to dance to at your wedding depends completely on your wedding style, taste, preference, etc. As long as you like the songs on the night, and the guests have something to dance to, you can be sure it will be a musical success!

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