Tips on Choosing your Wedding Reception's Playlist

Why should you make your own playlist?

When planning your wedding reception, one of the decisions you need to make is what to do about music. There are a few different options available, including hiring a live band or hiring a DJ. While there is nothing wrong with this, choosing to hire a band or a DJ will increase the overall cost of the reception. An inexpensive alternative is to compose a playlist on your mp3 player and either plug it in to the house sound system (or rent a sound system if your reception venue does not have an in house system). Ask a friend to monitor the mp3 player and turn down or pause the music when toasts are being given and cue the correct songs for the Father/Daughter dance, Mother/Son dance, etc. This decreases your cost from paying for both the band/DJ's time and equipment to only paying for a sound system, at most. If your venue has an in house sound system, they will likely allow you to plug your mp3 player into it at no additional charge.

One of the benefits of choosing to provide your own music at your wedding reception is that you can include all of your favorite songs and don't need to worry about a DJ suddenly putting on the Chicken Dance (unless, of course, you want the Chicken Dance, in which case please do include it on your playlist). The first thing to consider is how long your reception will last; you will need to prepare a playlist that runs at least through the duration of your event, and it is a good idea to add some padding just in case things run a little long. The second thing to consider is what content to include.

For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of witnessing the Chicken Dance, please click on the video below. It will explain everything.

The Chicken Dance

Which songs to choose

1. Songs that are special to you and your new spouse
These songs are probably going to be the easiest to select. Which songs remind you of your spouse-to-be? Do you recall any particular songs that were playing during important moments in your relationship (first date, vacations together, during the proposal, etc.)? If you don't have any music that resonates for you or your partner, don't worry; the following categories will also fill your playlist quite well.

2. Romantic songs
Pick romantic songs that you want to hear during the reception for this category. Don't feel obligated to include Frank Sinatra if you genuinely don't like his music! Romantic songs are in keeping with the theme of love that surrounds your wedding day, but the reception won't be much of a celebration if you don't like what is coming out of the speakers. Add your favorite romantic songs to your playlist, no matter what they are. A few of my favorite romantic songs are:

Umbrella - Rhianna
Jupiter - Jewel
The Fragile - Nine Inch Nails
Love You Madly - Cake
Sweet Thing - Keith Urban

3. Upbeat songs
Do you want your guests to get up and dance at your reception? Then encourage them to do so with your favorite upbeat songs! Anything with a beat will do, but old favorites and current popular music are your best bets:

Right Round - Flo Rida (a modern take on an 80's classic)
Just Dance - Lady GaGa
All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
Need You Tonight - INXS

4. Something for everyone
Consider your guests. Are you inviting your grandparents? Include a few tunes that you know they will recognize and enjoy. Are you inviting the children of your friends? Keep your overall playlist clean and kid-friendly. Who will be the last guests to leave; will they be your best friends from high school? If so, make sure to have some songs near the end of the playlist that were popular during your high school years (the final dances will be just as fun as the beginning ones)! Here are a few examples to get you started:

A Woman in Love - Frankie Laine
A Little Less Conversation - Elvis (remix by DJ Jxl)
I Get a Kick Out of You- Ella Fitzgerald
P.S. I Love You - The Hilltoppers
Walk the Line - Johnny Cash

For later in the evening:
Baby Got Back - Sir Mix A Lot
Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind
Buddy Holly - Weezer
President's of the United States of America - Peaches
Marcy Playground - Sex and Candy

Once you have collected music for your playlist, review it for songs that may be inappropriate. Many people include songs about broken hearts in their wedding receptions because they mistakenly believe that the song is about eternal love. Playing songs about broken hearts isn't in the spirit of a wedding celebration, and should not be played at one. A few examples of such songs are:

Every Breath You Take – The Police (a song about stalking, not love)
I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston (a song about breaking up)
My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion (a song about a lost lover)

Remember, listen to the lyrics before including a song in your final playlist. This will keep you and your guests in the right (celebratory) frame of mind during the reception. The favorites and upbeat songs will keep the party going and make your wedding day unforgettable!

Guests dancing at a wedding reception.
Guests dancing at a wedding reception.

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