Music played during the wedding reception starts as soon as the first guest arrives and does not stop until the last guest leaves – technically. If you were to hire a DJ to play wedding reception songs, the music should never stop as all music is pre-recorded.
However, if you hire a band to perform music at your wedding reception, then they could take scheduled, much needed, breaks during the night. If you were to hire background music musicians such as pianists and quartets, for cocktail and dinner-time then they typically do not take breaks as they are playing for smaller amounts of time.
Your wedding reception songs should be determined by your type of event. You would only play jazz music during cocktail hour if your wedding’s decor and style match the upscale theme of jazz music. Let’s start by laying out what portions of your wedding reception will need songs played. Of course, if no songs are played, it would add an unexpected focus to the moment as well.
Wedding Reception Events to Set to Songs
Wedding reception sections that need music:
- Cocktail and appetizer time
- Grand entrance
- Eating time
- Cake cutting
- Formal dances
- Bouquet and garter processes
- Party music
- Special dedications
Now that you have a list of each part of a wedding reception, you need to decide what styles of music you want for each section. Our guide is not a must-do or end-all to wedding reception songs. It is just a helpful guide.
Wedding Reception Songs – Cocktail Hour
When guests arrive at a wedding reception, they are excited and ready to be entertained. They really don’t want to be rocked to sleep. We do suggest jazz and adult contemporary styles of music for the cocktail hour. However, it cannot rock your guests to sleep. This is the start of a grand event but should put them in a good mood, not in a docile one. Play music like George Benson’s song On Broadway and Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon. These songs are considered jazz classics but will also not rock your guests to sleep.
Wedding Reception Songs – Grand Entrance
Grand Entrance songs announce you, the bridal couple, to all of your wedding guests. It’s the official title should be: here we are and let’s party! The song should put the spotlight on the bride and groom but also put guests in a frame of mind to relax and have little fun.
Wedding Reception Songs – Eating Time
Dinner music typically is very similar to the cocktail hour. Even if you have a classy event, we still do not recommend playing classical music. We also do not suggest playing romantic jazz classics. We suggest playing the music that will fill time but also gradually gain tempo through the night. You want to create the anticipation for the dancing music.
Wedding Reception Songs – Cake Cutting
Cake cutting songs typically have the theme of the act of cutting the cake or the sweet dessert wedding cake. However, this also can be one of those times when no music played can create a focus on the event itself. If no music is played, guests will know that a special event is occurring.
Wedding Reception Songs – Formal Dances
Formal dances can be as simple as only having the first dance song of the bride and groom. Formal dances can also include the father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, bridal party dance, money dance, and many others. IT is up to you what formal dance songs you want at your wedding. However, we do suggest that each song has a special meaning to each dancer.
Wedding Reception Songs – Bouquet and Garter
The bouquet and garter toss events usually have accompanying songs playing during the activities. These include the bouquet toss, garter removal, garter toss, and garter placement. Each activity can have its very own custom song.
Wedding Reception Songs – Party Music
The wedding reception songs to be played during the party music should be primarily left up to the music providers. They should know how to read the crowd and play what will fill the dance floor. However, the bridal couple should give some initial guidance as to the music style preferred by themselves and their friends. If you know that you and all of your family and friends prefer country music and would fill the dance floor, you must convey that to the music provider in preparation to have the correct style of music for your event. You should also provide a list of music you prefer not to be played during your reception. Check out our list of best party songs to fill the dance floor at your wedding reception!
Wedding Reception Songs – Special Dedications
Special dedications are not saved until last because they should be played last. It is because they can be played throughout the whole night. We left out a section for the last dance song as we feel the last dance is a kind of special dedication from the bridal couple to their wedding guests. Special dedications can also be played for loved ones lost.
In order to help bridal couples to plan their weddings, we put together a wedding reception worksheet. The worksheet gives a helpful list of everything you will need for your wedding reception songs. Please also review our common format of a wedding reception article to know the standard order of events.