Wedding Reception Music Guide

reception music guide

Reception Music Tips

  1. Skip playing classical, jazz, and instrumental standards from the beginning of the reception until the end of the meal. Try to mix mid-tempo songs to set the mood for fun and romance. Boring music will result in many guests leaving early.
  2. If your music preferences are unique, feel free to play as background music during cocktail hour and dinner. However, for dancing at the reception, most guests will dance to songs they recognize and are popular at the moment.
  3. Don’t forget to sprinkle in a couple of slow dance songs. It could create special moments for relatives such as Aunt Judy and her nephew John.
  4. Select music that has special meaning to you and your guests. If you and your friends always jammed to a song – have it on the playlist.
  5. Create a wedding playlist on a streaming service such as Spotify. Separate important moments into folders such as ceremony, meal, formal dances, and dancing.
  6. Consider your guests when selecting songs too. It’s OK to play different music styles and eras for guests’ music tastes. But, you don’t need to play songs commonly played on every big day. There are plenty of hits.
  7. Just because it is not party time after all of the formalities, it doesn’t mean you have to wait for dancing. You can have dancing as guests arrive and before cutting the wedding cake.
  8. If hiring music entertainment, give them a guide as to your favorite music but with the leeway to play what packs the dance floor.
  9. It’s OK to have a “do not play” list. Try not to be too limiting as the goal is to play the music that gets people dancing when it’s time to party.
  10. Dance music typically starts with classic hits (for family/elders) and progresses to more modern music (for friends/youths) – everyone is happy.

Reception Music Ideas

Guests’ Arrival Songs:
All 4 Nothing (I’m So In Love) – Lauv
Keeps On Fallin’ – Babyface, Ella Mai
Steal My Love – Dan + Shay

Introductions/Grand Entrance:
Bring ‘Em Out – T.I.
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
Higher Love – Kygo, Whitney Houston

First Dance:
Say Yes To Heaven – Lana Del Rey
Dance With You – Brett Young
Love You Anyway – Devon Gilfillian

Father/Daughter Dance:
When God Made You My Father – R. Roth
Good Hands – Kylie Morgan
Like My Father – Jax

Mother/Son Dance:
Mother’s Love – Soul Payn
No Prayer Like Mama’s – Jay Allen
Mama’s Do – The Dryes

Meal Songs:
Loving You – Cannons
Flowers – Miley Cyrus
Can’t Go – Dinner Party

Cake Cutting Song:
Yummy – Justin Bieber
Make It Sweet – Old Dominion
Sugar, You – Oh Honey

Bouquet Toss Song:
Fly Girl – FLO, Missy Elliott
Bridesmaids – Kylie Morgan
2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) – Lizzo
Garter Removal Song:
Toxic Pony – ALTÉGO
Sucker – Jonas Brothers
Waba Duba – Yello

Garter Toss Song:
Toss It Up – 2Pac
Boyz – Jesy Nelson, Nicki Minaj
Still Not A Player – Big Pun, Joe

Garter Placement Song:
Get Lucky – Daft Punk
What a Man Gotta Do – Jonas Brothers
Single Saturday Night – Cole Swindell

Money Dance Songs:
Millionaire – Chris Stapleton
Rich Man – Little Big Town
The Way You Look Tonight – M. Bublé

Anniversary Dance Song:
Never Not Loving You – Johnny and Heidi
Love You Still (abcdefu romantic version) – Tyler Shaw
Kept Every Vow – Spencer Crandall

Last Dance Song:
Never Let You Go – Jason Derulo, Shouse
Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home) – Elle King & Miranda Lambert
The Best Is Yet to Come – Tom Walker

Desired Reception Atmosphere:
Classy, Family Gathering, Fun Party, Club/Rave

Must-Plays and Special Requests:

Reception Music Guide

Arrival of Guests

  • Planned guests’ arrival time (Music to start 15 minutes prior)
  • Expected number of guests
  • Will the receiving line be at the reception (Greet all guests)? (yes/no)
  • Will guests be allowed to eat before your arrival? (yes/no)
    • If yes, cocktails & appetizers, or a meal?
  • Desired background music
    • Trendy Jazz, Yacht Rock, EDM Vibes, Acoustic Covers, Top 40, Contemporary R&B, Upbeat Country, Mix

Wedding Party Introductions (yes/no)

  • Wedding couple only
  • Entire wedding party
  • Bridesmaids and groomsmen intro as group
    • WP (Song/Artist)
    • WC (Song/Artist)


  • 1st Parents
  • 2nd Parents
  • Flower Girl
  • Ring Bearer
  • Special Guests

Maid/Matron of Honor

Best Man

Wedding Couple

For the best flow, it is recommended to have the first dance immediately following the introductions followed by any selected formal dances. This will prevent party time stoppage.

Wedding Couple First Dance (yes/no)

  • When will the first dance take place?
  • (Song/Artist)

Parents Dances

  • When will dances take place?
  • Father-daughter dance (yes/no)
    • (Song/Artist)
  • Mother-son dance (yes/no)
    • (Song/Artist)
  • Combined parents’ dance (yes/no)
    • (Song/Artist)
  • Invite all fathers/daughters & mothers/sons to the dance floor. (yes/no)

It is common to have other family members step in for formal dances. For example, having a mother/daughter dance, bride and stepfather dance, and groom and mother-in-law dance. Choose the dances that make you happy as a couple.

Special Instructions


  • When will the meal take place?
  • Will there be a blessing? If yes, their name
  • Will the meal be buffet, full-course, appetizers, or cake only?
  • Will tables be guided to the food line?
  • Meal background music
    • Trendy Jazz, Yacht Rock, EDM Vibes, Acoustic Covers, Top 40, Contemporary R&B, Upbeat Country, Mix

Toasts (yes/no)

  • When will the toast take place?
  • If yes, will special beverages be served? (yes/no)
    • If yes, who will be offering a toast?
      • Wedding Couple
      • Maid/Matron of Honor & Best Man
      • Wedding Party
      • All Guests

Wedding Cake

  • When do you plan to cut the cake?
  • Announce with music / Low key w/little attention / No cake
  • (Song/Artist)

Special Announcements

Icebreakers and Group Dances (yes/no)

  • These dances are meant to get guests on the dance floor en masse. Songs include Cha Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Shout, Electric Boogie, and Macarena.

Anniversary Dance (yes/no)

  • All married couples are invited to the dance floor. During the dance, the DJ will ask couples to leave the dance floor who have been married for less than “a certain number of years” at certain intervals during the song. The last couple dancing will be the longest married and will receive special recognition.
  • (Song/Artist)

Money Dance (yes/no)

  • This is also known as a honeymoon dance. Guests are invited to the dance floor to pay to dance with the wedding couple. This is a great way to get everyone involved in the reception. However, if it is not a family tradition, the dance is optional.
  • (Song/Artist)

Bouquet Toss (yes/no)

  • The bouquet is tossed to all of the single ladies in attendance.
  • When will the bouquet toss take place?
  • (Song/Artist)

Dedications and Special Instructions:

Garter Removal (yes/no)

  • The garter is removed from the bride’s leg by her new spouse.
  • Setting: Classy, fun, risqué
  • (Song/Artist)

Garter Toss (yes/no)

  • The garter is tossed to all the single guys in attendance. Add fun by wrapping the garter around a football.
  • (Song/Artist)

Garter Placement (yes/no)

  • The garter is placed on the bouquet toss winner’s leg or arm by the winner of the garter toss. Skipped if a child is involved. (Verify before announcing)
  • Setting: Classy, fun, risqué
  • (Song/Artist)

End of Event

  • Last Dance: Party hit, Sing-along, Slow dance
  • (Song/Artist)
  • Private Last Dance (only wedding couple in the room) (yes/no)
  • (Song/Artist)

Send-Off (yes/no)

  • (Song/Artist)
  • Departure effects: Bubbles, Sparklers, Rose petals, Bells, Other
  • Reception end time


All of the above reception guide is included in my book “The Wedding Music Toolkit” (available on Amazon).

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