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Inspiration & Expert Advice to Help You Create Your Own Wedding Ceremony!

Music for the Wedding Reception

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bride and Groom dancing at wedding receptionMy eldest daughter had an iPod at her wedding with over 150 of their chosen songs. It went really well, they had laid back music while we were eating and great 70's music that people recognised and could sing along and dance to. They had separate playlists for entering the reception venue, the bridal dance, cutting the cake, dance time, after 10pm music, etc.

At my second daughter's wedding they had a band and that was great too. Prior to the wedding the band emailed them their extensive playlist and they chose the range they wanted.  They were great musicians who played well and read the mood of the crowd. They interacted with the guests and allowed the groom's sister to use their equipment as she played the bridal dance song. The bride and groom had prepared a playlist on an iPod for the breaks.

DJ's are a bit more interactive as I understand it, creating playlists on the go. Taking requests and talking with guests. They often have an extensive music selection.

A few things to consider...


Find out what style of music they play and the extent of their repertoire. Do they play the style of music you want?  It is best to find bands who come recommended or have demo cd's you can listen to. If you are a local catch the band at one of their gigs. If not, then ask the locals who they would  recommend... photographers, hairdressers, reception venue staff, wedding coordinators, etc.

When you speak to the contact person in the band are they friendly, communicative? You need lead singers to be communicative and engaging so check them out. What are their terms and rates? Do they expect food/drink at the reception? How many band members? What do they need? Do you have to pay for the hire of sound equipment? How many weddings have they done? How many sets do they do? How long are their breaks? How long do they play for? Do they take requests? Do they read the mood of the group and play accordingly? Will they allow an MC to use their microphone? Is it a cordless mike?

Lastly, will they play your songs of choice i.e. the track you want for your bridal dance?


Make sure your music is of a high quality rate if you are playing it on professional equipment. Ask the venue whether they have a sound system you can use or a docking station etc or do you have to bring your own equipment. Do you need to have a microphone set up for your MC? If so, does the venue provide one?

If you are creating a playlist give yourself plenty of time to create it. It is a big job, bigger than most people plan for. This is a fun task that can be done months ahead. Don't leave it to the last minute.

You may wish to include songs that remind you of when you first met, your first date, your holidays together, special moments you have shared. Watch out for songs that will shock and offend grandma or little kids. There is so much great music out there you can do without those.

You will need about 75-100 songs for a standard reception. You may wish to create a few playlists: one for background music, one for dancing and possibly a playlist for entering the reception, the bridal dance, cutting the cake etc. Rename these songs on this last playlist with their task so whoever is coordinating the music doesn't have to know the song title but can see from the tracks name when it is to be played. i.e. Track One is titled: Entering the reception

Delegate someone to be the iPod coordinator, someone who is cool, calm and collected... and not likely to get drunk. This person ideally is also there to monitor the mood and change songs if necessary... i.e. people are dancing and a quiet song comes on they may wish to skip the song and the keep the mood bopping. Too much skipping and the flow starts to waver.

Have the iPod fully charged and possibly a back up iPod just in case! Test the iPod on the system you are going to use before the day. That way you know what extensions you may need to get.


Ideally, DJ's read the tempo of the reception, playing the right song on cue! They can create playlists usually from a wide range of songs meeting most guests tastes. Give your DJ an idea of who is coming to your reception so they can gauge the music that is likely to be popular.

Meet the DJ and see if you like their personality and their willingness to work with you. When you book through a company ask if they will be the one who is coming to your wedding. If not, ask if you can talk to the DJ who will be hired. How many weddings have they done? Will they MC? If not, can your MC use their microphone and equipment? Do they motivate the guests if no-one is up dancing? What happens in the case of equipment failure? How do they organise the flow of the evening? Most DJ's will happily let you choose your favourite songs. Do they take requests on the night?

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