Need help figuring out how to choose your wedding music? Look no further than this episode of The Wedding Duo Podcast!

Throughout your special night, you’re gonna have a lot of “HOORAY!!” moments and a lot of “AWWWWWW!! That’s so sweet!!” moments. And just like a soundtrack to a great movie, the wedding music you choose will make those moments infinitely more special.

But there’s A LOT of options when it comes to picking the right music, which can make this particular wedding planning task a bit overwhelming. So that’s exactly what we are here to help you with today.

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Episode 005: How to Choose Your Wedding Music

Let’s start from the beginning: choosing music for the ceremony

For the ceremony, you will generally need three songs. Two for the processional (walking up to the altar) and one for the recessional (coming off of the altar). The first one is for your bridal party to walk down the aisle to.

The biggest thing to consider about this particular song is how many people are going to walk down the aisle and how long that will take. Knowing those things will give you an idea of how long the song will need to play and from there, you can filter your search for songs that will cover about that length of time.

How to choose your wedding music, processional music

Pro Tip: Choose a song that has a slightly longer instrumental at the beginning and the end and play the song during the rehearsal so that the people in the processional can practice timing their entrance and their pace with the music.

Timing is everything: Choosing a song for the bride’s walk down the aisle

The songs for your processional will help set the mood. Generally, these are slower love songs or beautiful, low-key instrumentals. And then it’s time for the bride! This is a significant song. Choose a song that’s sentimental to you (or to both of you). And don’t be afraid to pick a very specific part of the song to cue your entrance.

How to choose your wedding music, ceremony music
htPhoto by Marius Muresan on Unsplash

Pro tip: Consider using a song with a palpable build-up to create an insanely beautiful (and jaw-dropping) moment.

The parts of the wedding where you need upbeat, celebration music

Speaking of build-up, there’s a lot that leads up to that very special moment when you are officially wed.

The recessional starts as soon as you are officially pronounced husband and wife and you begin your walk back down the aisle. This is the perfect time to play an upbeat song to match this exciting moment! You did it!! (This is what we call a “HOORAY!!!” moment)

Another perfect time to play a song that’s big and fun is when you are introduced again at the reception. It’s a great way to raise the energy level back up from cocktail hour and to kick off party time!

A fun way to introduce the bridal party to the reception

If your bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t really know each other that well, it may be a little awkward for them to do an exciting, dance entrance into the reception. (Unless you’ve got some really outgoing people in your wedding party)

As an alternative, you can introduce all the bridesmaids to the music of a fun girl power song and then do the same with all the groomsmen.

How to choose your wedding music, wedding DJ

Pro Tip: A good wedding DJ really helps with getting people’s attention, changing the energy of the room (when it’s appropriate), and engaging people with what’s happening.

Wondering if you should hire a DJ or a live band for your wedding? Check out our post on How to Vet Your Wedding Vendors (Part 1)

Choosing a song for the first dance

If you’ve got a song on your heart that’s deeply sentimental, but lyrically it’s not the best, don’t discount it just yet.

How to choose your wedding music, bride and groom first dance
Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash

We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves for ways you can still make such a song work but before we get into that we want to start off by saying – it’s your day and if that’s the song you want, then don’t worry about it! Take your partner’s hand, dance to that song, and enjoy that moment with your significant other.

But if you want to incorporate the song and avoid sharing some of the lyrics with your guests, here’s what you can do. 

  1. Search for an instrumental version of the song! 

But make sure it’s the instrumental version, NOT KARAOKE. There is a significant difference and you may not be super happy with the karaoke version.

  1. Choose another song for the “official” first dance and save your special song for a solo dance at the end of the night. 

It’s a win, win situation! (And we talk more about the solo dance towards the end of this post, so if you just can’t wait, go ahead and scroll to that part if you must. Just don’t forget to come back and pick up where you left off.) 

Pro Tip: Another option is to use the instrumental version of your song for the bride’s walk down the aisle and then the song with lyrics for your first dance! (Double whammy!)

So what about the dance music?

Do you trust your DJ to pick the party music or do you give him or her nine hours of pre-selected, pre-approved music for them for choose from. And the answer is – it’s totally up to you!

An even better answer is: a solid collaboration between you and your DJ is the best!

How to choose your wedding music, reception dance music
Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

Because here’s the deal, you know who’s going to be at your wedding on a personal level. You know what genre of music is going to get your guests out on the dance floor. 

So communicating that with your DJ will be really important to ensure that the entertainment is, well. . . fun and entertaining for you and everyone else! (And your DJ should, of course, ask you these questions in your consultations.)

The biggest issue with giving your DJ a list of pre-selected music is that there is only enough time for about 18-20 songs. So if you have more songs than that on your playlist, your DJ will have to make quite a few cuts. You can absolutely still give your DJ a list, just craft your list that will work with the amount of time that you have.

Either way, you can lean on the expertise of your DJ and feel confident that they’ll put on the party of a lifetime!

The biggest problem with song requests (and the solution!)

Everyone loves to request songs at a wedding. But let us ask you this, do you trust the song selection judgement of allllll your guest? Are you sure that silly Uncle Bob isn’t going to come up to the DJ and request Baby Shark because he thinks it would be hilarious. . . 

(Now if you do think that would be hilarious, more power to you, but you get point.) 

So the best way to handle song requests is to not allow them at all or communicate with your DJ and put filters in place. But if you don’t mind guests requesting songs, a great way to filter out any nonsense is to create a DO NOT playlist.

And don’t stress about making sure you think of every single silly song that Uncle Bob may come up with to put on the playlist – you can trust your DJ to make a professional judgement on what would be a good song request and what wouldn’t.

Take song requests another way

Another option would be to add a spot on your RSVP’s where guests can request a song. But be specific on what kind of song! Because if you don’t, 80% of the requests are going to be slow songs and to keep the party momentum going, you want to keep the number of slow songs to a minimum. 

So instead, put this question on your RSVP – What song will get you out on the dance floor?

Boom. (Mic drop) Problem solved. = )

What song do you play to end the most epic dance party of your life?

We recommend going with a timeless, classic. Something that all the generations will know and something that will get everyone out on the dance floor and sing along. It’s the grand finale to a perfect day and an even better celebration.

Think of songs like Sweet Caroline and We Are The Champions. Maybe it’s a little cliche for a wedding but that’s because it works. It brings everyone together for one last time and for one last hurrah before calling it a night. 

And if nothing else, the pictures from that specific moment are priceless.

Close the night with a solo dance

This is a fairly new wedding trend but it’s one that we absolutely love! This is where all of your guests leave the dance floor and gather around for your final send-off, with sparklers or bubbles, or whatever it may be. 

And once the dance floor is clear and the room is empty, except for the bride and groom, play your special song for one last solo dance.

It’s such a wonderful and beautiful way to spend a couple of minutes dancing together alone and relishing in the fact that you just had a phenomenal night, celebrating one of the most joyous occasions of your life, with all of your closest family and friends. <3

(And it also makes for a really special picture.)

How to choose your wedding music, solo dance
Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash

And if you’re thinking, “Man, this is all really great stuff but I still don’t even know where to start! I need some song suggestions!!” . . . We hear you, and we’ve got you covered! 


Head over to our shop and check out our selection of meticulously, hand-picked songs for each part of your wedding! Click here to visit the shop.

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Happy Wedding Planning!

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