How to Create the Perfect Wedding Music Playlist

From the first dance to the cutting of the cake, find tips and suggestions for what songs to play on your wedding day.

By: Camille Styles

Related To:

  1. Planning
  2. Weddings

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Photo By: Cory Ryan

Cory Ryan

Music — it's such a magical way to express the emotion behind your wedding day, the mood you want to set for your guests, and it can convey a true glimpse inside the bride’s and groom’s personalities. Although choosing a playlist for such a momentous occasion may seem overwhelming at first, finding trusted vendors (or even a music-buff friend) can be the first step toward musical bliss from the first notes of the father-daughter dance to the dance beats serenading the last of the night’s revelers.

The first decision? Whether you’ll be hiring a band, DJ or putting together a DIY iTunes playlist. If hiring a band or DJ, consider giving them some creative license to read the crowd and use their professional expertise in song selection; however, it's important to convey a few pieces of crucial information. Discuss genres of music and artists that you do (and do not) want to hear at your wedding, and provide a detailed account of the order of events so they can plan to usher guests from cocktail hour to the meal to the dance party with music that will set the appropriate vibe for each setting. You’ll also want to discuss any toasts that might be happening, as well as scheduled "dances," like father-daughter, mother-son and bride-and-groom.

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Many couples today are opting to play the part of DJ themselves by creating an iTunes playlist and letting it play through the entire event. The beauty of this option is that it gives the bride and groom full control over exactly which songs are and are not played throughout the evening — it can truly be a compilation of their favorites! It does take more advance preparation, however, so finding a music enthusiast friend to help with song selection and being responsible for controlling the electronics and speakers the day of the event is a great idea. Keep in mind that while an iPod is more compact, playing music from a laptop works well for a longer event, since it typically has more memory and allows you to add songs to your list seamlessly. And be sure to provide a little extra time on each song list. If an hour is allotted for the dinner portion of the reception, include an hour and a half of music on the "dinner" playlist in case it runs over.

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Photo By: Cory Ryan

Cory Ryan

Whether you’re hiring a vendor or doing it yourself, don't forget to find out what rentals your venue may require (including sound equipment, speakers and microphones) as well as whether electrical outlets will be adequate or if you'll need a generator. To help get started with music selection, we put together a few playlist samples to fit three different "types" of weddings and couples. Which one are you?

The Throwback Couple

This playlist includes songs that strike a chord with every generation and is perfect for a family-oriented couple. Upbeat classics that you can't help but sing along to, from Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and other favorites, will call guests to the dance floor to celebrate all night long.

1. Father/Daughter: Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl
2. Mother/Son: Fleetwood Mac - Landslide
3. Bride/Groom: Etta James - At Last
4. Aretha Franklin - Respect
5. Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive
6. Earth Wind and Fire - Celebrate
7. Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
8. Michael Jackson - PYT
9. Stevie Wonder - For Once in my Life
10. The Temptations - Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

The Party Couple

For the couple that's always current and looking to have a good time, a playlist made of chart toppers is just right. Who can resist pop culture favorites from Beyonce and The Black Eyed Peas, especially when surrounded by your closest friends and family? Just press play and let the music do the rest.

1. Father/Daughter: John Mayer - Daughters
2. Mother/Son: Mariah Carey - Always Be My Baby
3. Bride/Groom: Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
4. La Roux - Bullet Proof
5. Beyonce - Single Ladies
6. The Black Eyed Peas - The Time
7. J. Cole - Work Out
8. Jay-Z - Empire State of Mind
9. Cupid - Cupid Shuffle
10. Neyo featuring Pitbull - Give Me Everything
11. Kanye West - The Good Life

The Hipster Couple

If your styles tend to veer off the beaten path, you might be more inclined to create a playlist that features up-and-coming indie artists. For the couple that's planning a non-traditional wedding, take inspiration from any of the music festivals around the country and enjoy tracks from She and Him, Alabama Shakes and more.

1. Father/Daughter: She and Him - Sweet Darling
2. Mother/Son: Fleet Foxes - Lorelai
3. Bride/Groom: Alabama Shakes - I Found You
4. Mumford & Sons - Little Lion Man
5. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's - 40 Day Dream
6. Vampire Weekend - Mansard Roof
7. The Shins - Simple Song
8. My Morning Jacket - I'm Amazed
9. Oberhofer - Away FRM U
10. Youth Lagoon - Cannons

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