Choosing your reception music

Photo by Kenny Louie

While it’s likely that you will walk down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride” or Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” selecting the music for your reception can pose a bit more of a challenge! Once your venue is booked, it’s a good idea to start deciding on whether you will use a band or a DJ. Regardless of your decision, your entertainment vendor will look to you for input on the styles of music you’d like to hear on your wedding day. Take an afternoon with your bride or groom-to-be to discuss which of these styles will be best suited for your celebration:

Oldies but Goodies

Songs of the early to mid-20th century, range in styles from jazz, big band, and swing to rock and roll— providing an abundance of music and dance selections. Mix it up with lively and upbeat tunes from Duke Ellington or your favorites by The Beatles! Familiar songs from this generation are likely to be a crowd pleaser for guest of all ages. Going for a vintage wedding theme? Consider an old favorite like Ella’s Fitzgerald’s “At Last” or Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” as your “first dance” selection.


The classic art of ballroom dance is a sure way to bring an air of sophistication to your reception. Many couples decide to take ballroom dance classes to perfect their first dance. Ask your instructor for some additional dances that you can perform throughout the reception. Don’t be afraid of intimidating your guests with your professional dance moves. With current popular shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” on the air, your guests will be excited to get out on the floor to waltz, tango, foxtrot or cha cha like their favorite celebrities!

Photo by STAK Photographer Duo



Weddings are a great opportunity to share traditions, whether you are from the same background, or introducing your respective families to new customs. Couples who decide to incorporate part of their culture into the wedding day should consider songs or dances that pay homage to their heritage. Cultural music is a great way to bring together family and friends, because no matter the song, dancing is a universal language.

Pop and Hip-Hop

You can expect to hear lots of current hits if you are attending a wedding of a younger couple. While DJ’s are thought to have a monopoly on this type of music, more and more bands have expanded to include today’s favorite hits and can even turn your reception into a high-energy concert-type event (think cover bands). Use caution when selecting songs that may contain suggestive themes or offensive language, especially if you are expecting children at your reception.

Photo by Marcus Bell – Studio Impressions Photography


Walking the line

Are you a couple who enjoys line/group dancing songs that will have all of your guests out on the dance floor? If so then be sure to tell your band or DJ to add The Macarena, Hokey Pokey, Electric Slide, Chicken Dance, Apache (Jump On It), YMCA and Cotton Eye Joe to the song list. There is a good chance that a majority of your guests know these dances and will be excited to jump right in. On the other hand, there are some couples who would rather exclude these types of dances (and keep their guests from requesting them). If this is the case, be sure to give your band or DJ a “Do Not Play List” beforehand.

The best way to ensure your guests will have a good time is to include an eclectic mix to cover all your bases and to add variety. Just keep in mind that this is your big day, so don’t forget to choose a few songs that may hold special meaning to you as a couple and will be memorable when you look back on your wedding day!


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