Choosing the Music for Your Wedding Reception

Planning a wedding can be hectic. You’ve got the cake, flowers, dresses, honeymoon destination, and everything else to think about and agree on with your family and partner. In all of that madness, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of picking the right wedding reception music.

Music has always been an essential element of weddings. No matter the culture, religion, or historical era, the couple had to be deliberate on how to choose wedding reception music. It was never a random exercise. The music sets the tone and gets your guest into the joyful and happy spirits that characterize every auspicious wedding ceremony. To achieve that effect, you need to pick the right songs. 

Here, we’ve compiled eleven tips for getting your reception playlist just right. These tips ensure your magical day and night will have the perfect soundtrack.

1) Know the Key Moments

You’re probably wondering when do I need music during the wedding reception? What are the critical moments during the reception? You need to be clear on that with your partner and others helping with the planning. 

Examples of moments that you need to account for are what music to play when entering a wedding reception, the first dance, or during the cake cutting. Go over the flow of events with your wedding planner, and pick out those special moments that require a particular sort of music or tune.

2) What’s Your Wedding Theme?

So you’ve figured out the songs for your pivotal moments. But how do you decide what music to play throughout the wedding reception? Your best option is to match the playlist with the wedding theme.

A playlist that matches your wedding theme can create cohesion. If it’s an outside party, then you probably want songs with a lot of energy. If it’s a black-tie event, then maybe you could try some jazz. 

Of course, no matter the theme, you need to have some love songs that can get you and your significant other in the mood.

3) DJ or a Band?

Getting the music just right isn’t just about timing—you also have to factor in the capabilities (and limits) of who you hire. The delivery of your playlist depends heavily on the individual controlling your playlist.

The type of music you decide to play has a big influence on whether you hire a wedding DJ or a band. You can also have a combination of both. That’s a budget consideration, but if you can afford it, you only get one wedding day, so go for it! 

Whichever you go with will ultimately affect your song choices. Most bands can only play one music genre or a limited range of music genres. A DJ, however, is more flexible. You can add songs from our list of Top 250 Wedding Songs and not worry if your band will struggle to give it the required oomph.

Check out our Top Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Wedding DJ

4) What’s the Vibe?

No matter the theme of your wedding, you want everyone who walks into your reception to feel love and give it back to all around them. Music is a great way to set this sort of mood. 

You also want to be able to alternate the mood depending on what’s happening. The songs you play when folks are eating will be different from what you’ll play when they are dancing or making a toast. 

Get the vibe right with the tunes, and your guests will go home flushed, happy, and thinking of renewing their vows.

5) Does Your Venue Have Any Restrictions?

You need to make sure there are no restrictions on the type of music or sound volume. 

For example, if you are renting a religious venue for your reception, it might come with some restrictions. You might also experience this if you took a space owned by the government or within a zone with certain restrictions. 

The significant point here is you need to check-in and ensure you have an all-clear to play any music and at the required volume. It is your big day after all, and you don’t want any surprises at the venue.

6) Consider Your History Together

Draw from your history as a couple to decide how to make and play music at a wedding reception. Even if you two decided to get hitched after one month of dating, there has to be an artist or song that you two enjoy. It is much easier to find one if you have been together for a while. 

The song could be the one that played on your first date or a song that you two sing along to while in the car. Adding these sorts of songs to your reception playlist creates a memorable experience that neither of you will forget in a long while.

7) Find Inspiration

If you aren’t finding many joyful tunes in your past, you can search for musical inspiration on social media. 

Spotify, Apple Music, and the likes should have a love or wedding playlist you can curate for songs. You can also go on YouTube and search for wedding videos. 

Another spot for inspiration is romantic movies. They always have a great selection of songs, and who knows, you might unearth some golden nuggets down that rabbit hole.

8) Start by Curating Popular Songs

You don’t have to start with a blank slate. There are loads of popular wedding and romantic songs. You can begin populating your list with these, while you look for particular songs that might fit the moments or moods you want to elicit from your guests. 

The good thing about the sort of approach is once you get into the flow, it’s hard to stop. Before you know it, you’ll have a playlist brimming with songs. You might end up needing to trim your list with your partner.

9) Add Variety

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Make sure not to restrict yourself to a particular genre or era of music when thinking of what kind of wedding music for the reception. 

Variety is essential because you are sure to have guests from a different generation, and they’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness. 

Variety is also a great way of setting the tone of your reception or alternating between crucial moments. For example, slow music or jazz allows your guest to have a conversation during dinner. Turning it up with some of the top hip-hop jams gets everyone into the mood once it’s time to dance.

10) Make Sure It Flows

You must create a playlist that accommodates the various generations, but that is not an excuse for a disjointed playlist. 

Once you have agreed on the final list with your partner, sit down with your DJ or band. Together, everyone should agree on a flow that is seamless and doesn’t jar your listeners. 

You don’t want people squirming as your DJ goes from a slow, jazzy beat to a hard rock beat without easing them into the new sound. Don’t just go with the flow—create it.


Deciding on what music to play throughout the wedding reception shouldn’t be much of a challenge if you go through these steps. You’ll probably have more than enough songs on your playlist by the time you have finished.

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