What Type of Wedding Music Should I Have?

Mar 12, 2023 | Wedding

You could have a wedding singer like Adam Sandler, but you just never know what they might be going through, so it could be a toss-up!(Hopefully, you’ve seen the Wedding Singer, so that joke lands). In all seriousness, when it comes to choosing music for your wedding, the options can seem overwhelming. From classical string quartets to upbeat DJ sets, the type of music you choose will set the tone for your special day. Not to mention which songs are for which parts of the wedding?! It’s truly a daunting task! No worries, we’ve got some good ideas for you to get those wheels turning.


Consider Your Theme

Formal Weddings

When considering the formality of your wedding, it’s important to think about the overall tone and atmosphere you want to create on your big day. The formality of your wedding can have a big impact on the type of music you choose. You wouldn’t want to open with Lil’ John’s “Get Low” for the first song of the night, right?! (Or maybe you would, no judgment here!)

If you’re planning a formal wedding, traditional wedding music, such as classical pieces or hymns, may be more appropriate. For example, a string quartet or a harpist can add a touch of sophistication to your ceremony. For the reception, a jazz band or a classical ensemble can provide a more refined and sophisticated atmosphere.

Laid-Back Weddings

When considering a laid-back wedding, it’s important to think about the type of music that will reflect the relaxed and casual atmosphere you want to create.

For a laid-back ceremony, you may choose to incorporate popular songs or instrumental versions of popular songs. This can create a more personal and intimate atmosphere. For example, you can have a soloist or a small ensemble playing guitar or piano versions of popular love songs. Maybe “All of Me” by John Legend or pretty much any of Adele’s love songs. 

For the reception, there is the option of a DJ or a live band that can play a variety of genres that will appeal to a wide range of guests. A DJ can play a mix of genres such as pop, rock, and R&B, while a live band can play a mix of genres such as rock, blues, and country. 

It’s also smart to have a request list where guests can request songs that they would like to hear; this will make sure that everyone is happy with the music, and you can also include some of your favorite songs.


Consider Your Guest List

While we’re on the topic of a request list for your guests, let’s talk about the guest list. When considering your guest list for your wedding music, it’s important to think about the age, taste, and cultural backgrounds of your guests. You may want to tailor your music choice to the majority of your guests while still reflecting your personal preferences. Or maybe you don’t care, and you only want to play your personal preferences without regard; that’s cool, too!

For example, if you have a lot of older guests, you may want to incorporate more traditional wedding music, such as classical pieces or hymns, into your ceremony and reception. Maybe some Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan on the dance floor, too. On the other hand, if you have a lot of younger guests, you may want to incorporate more contemporary or popular music into your ceremony and reception. Here’s where Lil’ John might come in handy if you are a millennial with tons of guests your age.

Additionally, you might also consider the cultural backgrounds of your guests when choosing wedding music. If you have guests from different cultural backgrounds, you may want to incorporate music from different cultures into your wedding. This could include traditional music from your own culture or the cultures of your guests. It will make them feel included and appreciated, and it will make your wedding more special.

It’s also important to think about the danceability of the music you choose for the reception. Choose a balance of fast and slow songs to cater to all ages and preferences. This will help to keep guests of all ages entertained and on the dance floor.


Consider the Song Timing

Song timing often goes overlooked when planning out the music. When considering the song timing when choosing wedding music, it’s important to think about the flow and pacing of your wedding ceremony and reception. Of course, you probably understand that 50 Cent might not be the best song for the Mother-Son dance, but have you thought about those in-between moments, like waiting for dinner to be served or the cocktail hour? Those should have appropriate songs, as well!

newlyweds dancing at their wedding

For the Ceremony

Now, let’s get into the thick of it. What should you play for the actual wedding itself? For the ceremony, traditional wedding music, such as classical pieces or hymns, can be a great choice. Some popular classical pieces for the ceremony include Pachelbel’s Canon in D, the Bridal Chorus from Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” and the “Ave Maria” by Schubert. 

Here are some more suggestions for different parts of the ceremony:


This is the music that will play as the bridal party and the bride walk down the aisle. You can choose a more upbeat and joyful song to set the tone for the ceremony and to get guests excited. Popular choices include “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, and “Marry You” by Bruno Mars.


This is the music that will play during the ceremony itself. You can choose a more sentimental and emotional song that reflects the solemnity of the occasion. Popular choices include “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, “I Choose You” by Sara Bareilles, and “All of Me” by John Legend.


This is the music that will play as the couple and the bridal party leaves the ceremony. You can choose a more celebratory and upbeat song to reflect the joy of the occasion. Popular choices include “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles, and “Lucky” by Jason Mraz.

Other moments

Some couples choose to have music during other moments of the ceremony, like the lighting of unity candles or sand ceremony. You can choose songs that are meaningful for you and your partner or that reflect the significance of the moment.

It’s also important to consider the length of the songs to make sure that they’re not too long or too short for the specific moment in the ceremony. You can practice timing the songs and make sure they match.


For the Reception

For the reception, it’s important to choose music that will keep your guests entertained and dancing. Depending on your personal preferences, you can choose between a live band or a DJ. A live band can provide a more intimate and personal touch, while a DJ can offer a more energetic and upbeat atmosphere. 

Here are some suggestions for different parts of the reception:

Cocktail hour

This is the music that will play while guests are arriving and mingling before the reception begins. You can choose more mellow and background-type music to set the tone for the evening and to create a relaxed atmosphere. Popular choices include jazz standards, instrumental covers of popular songs, or lounge-style music.


This is the music that will play during dinner. You can choose more relaxed and mellow music to match the mood of the dinner. Popular choices include acoustic versions of popular songs, instrumental music, or a playlist of songs that reflect your personal taste.


This is the music that will play during the dancing portion of the reception. You can choose more upbeat and energetic music to get guests up and dancing. Popular choices include a mix of current popular songs, classics, and some songs that reflect your personal taste.

Parent Dances

Namely, the father-daughter dance and the mother-son dance. This is a special time between the bride and groom and their parents. You can work with your parent to help choose the perfect song. Or maybe there’s one that you already have in mind that you’ve known since you were ten years old. 

Some common choices for the father-daughter dance are “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw and “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. 

For the mother-son dance, people often choose “Mother Like Mine” by the Band Perry or “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers. 

Last Dance

This is the music that will play during the last dance of the reception. You can choose a song that is sentimental and emotional, and that will create a memorable moment for you and your guests. Popular choices include “Beyond” by Leon Bridges, “Shout” by Isley Brothers, and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith.


Final Thoughts

Whether you’re going with a wedding singer, a DJ playing the best of Lil’ John all night, or a jazz band, the most important thing is that you and your partner love. After all, it’s your special day, and the music should reflect your personalities and taste. With the right music, your wedding will be a beautiful and memorable celebration.


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