Matt talks about a wedding songs checklist for planning your wedding music.
Welcome to 2023! Even though at the time of this recording it is December 29th. I am going to be doing things a little differently. If you want to see my ugly face, then you can do so now on YouTube, or you can listen to our podcast on Spotify, or I Heart Radio, however, you want to listen. You know, I just want to change things up a little bit in 2023 and give you some different advice and hopefully get some interviews, and really change the direction making this more interactive for all of you. So I just want to start off the year by going over a wedding songs checklist. Like I said, if you are looking on Spotify I am going to share my screen real quick. I have a wedding song checklist that I offer on the website that you can download for free. On this checklist, we go over the ceremony music, the reception, some of the formal dances, and then some of the overall feel of the music as well.
This is really what I am going to talk about today, which is what songs you should be playing for your wedding day. If you haven’t figured any of that out you’ve come to the right place. So, I am going to start off with the ceremony and the prelude. That is industry jargon that really means the music that is playing as your guests come in and are being seated. You want to have this as really setting the mood for the day. A lot of couples will choose instrumental music, like Vitamin String Quartet or The Piano Guys. Instrumental music is very common music that is played for the prelude. Next up is “the marriers processional”, this is also the groom’s processional. A lot of grooms do not have their own song as they walk down the aisle, but they most certainly can. You know, you can walk down to the Star Wars theme, the James Bond theme, or something that really means something to the groom. Just make sure you really talk it over with the officiant and the venue. A lot of churches may limit songs you can play during the wedding ceremony. So, make sure you talk it over with them and the celebrant to see what may be acceptable for that location.
Next up are processional for the wedding party. This could be the flower girl, the ring bearer, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, or whatever songs you want to play for the processional. You can have all of these as one song but I can tell you the next one, the marriers entrance song or the brides’ entrance song (the bridal march) is typically the bridal party and they walk down the aisle to their own song. This is where you can bring in your personality as well. Here you can have a special song. Say you are a Disney fan then you could have “What Dreams Are Made Of” which is very popular by Brent Morgan. OR you could have the ukulele version of a Disney song as well. As I said, you could have the Vitamin String Quartet, The Piano Guys, really make this designed to your personality and the songs you like. A lot of people play an instrumental song from the Twilight series, so you know, just bring in your personality.
A lot of couples choose a unity song for their ceremony so this could be the “tieing of the knot”, unity candle lighting, or whatever you are doing to signify the unity of two families becoming one. It could even be a black and tan beer, so whatever you have as the unity of two families/people becoming one. You could have a special song for that. Then also, maybe you want to have songs for the communion or the readings or other moments your ceremony includes. You don’t have to have music, that is up to you. Typically the average wedding is only about 15-20 min long unless you are going to have a full-on religious ceremony which could take up to an hour. So, just pick out your music but make sure you are speaking with those in charge of the ceremony space and the music including the DJ, Pianist, or someone in the church. The last part of the ceremony is the recessional, another jargon term. So the recessional is your exit song, or when you are walking back out after the wedding is over. These are just great songs that you can select for your wedding ceremony. The exit song can be fun and upbeat, or it can be romantic, just make sure it is something that is long enough to play while all of your guests are leaving as well. This means it might be multiple songs. It could be whatever song you want to have to signify “Hey now we are married!”.
Now let us talk about the reception songs. We call this “the doors open”, or “cocktail hour” music. This is the music playing while guests are arriving at the reception. One of the things I am going to have you really thinking about is, back in the 90s when I was DJing, and a lot of DJs still do this, is that they are playing the John Coltrain, they are playing Dave Koz, just the really popular romantic Miles Davis feel you could have as guests arrive. It has that classy feel to it. You want to make sure you are portraying fun as well. You don’t want to have a lot of bored guests with this music, that is really what you want to try and get away from. Try to have a fun feel, that is the one recommendation I have for the background music. So, next up, after the cocktail hour or the “doors open’ is your arrival. That is the wedding couple, it could be the introduction of any of the wedding party as well. That is your fun, upbeat, or it could be romantic as well.
After your introductions typically you go right into your first dance but I am going to get to the dances a little bit later. For the reception, I want to talk about dinner music. These are commonly sing-along songs. The DJ, or the band, is getting an idea of what type of music you and your guests like. I know you are giving them a highlight of what you want to play, but maybe they are not tapping their toes or singing along. Maybe they don’t like Rock music, or Country music, this is really where the DJ can get an idea of what type your guests, and you, are singing along to, and really vibing to. You can tell, from the really good DJs that are looking out and seeing how you and your guests are reacting to the music.
Next up, after the dinner hour, is the cake-cutting song which could be, depending on the type of vibe you want, “Cake By The Ocean”, “Sugar” by Maroon 5, or “Cake” by Flo Rida. There is a lot you could choose from that really fit that vibe. You could choose “Sweet Home Alabama”, you know, a lot of “Sweet” versions of songs. “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” is another popular cake-cutting song. Next, a lot of couples are choosing to do the bouquet toss and garter toss. But if you are going to do the garter toss you have to think about if you are going to do the removal, the toss, and the placement. That really depends on who “wins” the garter toss, and the bouquet toss, so pick out songs for those as well if those are events you want to have at your reception.
Next, we have your party and dancing songs. What kind of music are you, your friends and your family going to dance to? A lot of that can be figured out during the cocktail and dinner hours because you will figure out what people are really vibing to. Also, don’t forget slow dance songs. It is a little bit controversial, you want to have a party vibe but what if Uncle Matt here wants to dance with his niece, you want to have a song picked out for that. That way you can create that special moment. Or maybe Grandma wants to dance with her grandson, or Grandpa wants to dance with his granddaughter. The only way those special moments are created is thru a slow dance. OK, now I am going to talk about formal dances. So, the first dance song. Nobody should pick out your first dance song except you. This is a very special moment, this is the first dance as a married couple. Pick out a song that is very special to you. If you are having trouble we have a list of 100 popular and unique first dance songs on our website. Next, we have parent-child dances. This includes father-daughter, and mother-son dances and could even be step-father and step-daughter dances, it could be your mother-daughter dance, just depending on your scenario of who has passed, or who is not attending. These are your parent-child, or even maybe even your sister-brother dance, these are just your popular family dances that you want to have a special song set aside for those dances. If you want to have a wedding party dance, these are songs that are really going to get the party started, get people on the dance floor, and get people up dancing. Talk about getting people on the dance floor, what about the longest married, or the anniversary dance? This is when you get all of the married couples out on the dance floor. You are going to eliminate them by newly married to try and figure out who has been married the longest. Then you can give them a gift and then invite everyone back on the dance floor for a special dance dedicated to that longest-married couple.
Next up is the money dance. Many couples choose not to have this but some still do choose to have it. If you do have a money dance make sure you choose a song for it. It is also known as the dollar dance and the honeymoon dance. That brings us to the last dance of the night. If you want to have a send-off if you want to have a romantic moment with everyone surrounding you on the dance floor it could be a slower song. You know, “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes is a very popular song that is chosen. “Closing Time” by Semisonic, how are you going to end the night? One of the things that are really trending now is the private last dance. So, you get everyone out of the reception hall getting them ready with the bubbles or sparklers, however, you are going to have your send-off outside. Then you just have a private last dance with just you, the musician, and the photographer. It just really gives you the opportunity to just reflect on your day. It is a very special moment.
Those are special moments of your wedding that you can set to music. Overall I would like to cover 4 moments as well and that is a desired atmosphere and a mood. What type of reception do you want to have? Do you want to have romance? Do you want to have fun? Do you want to have uplighting accents? You know, what kind of mood do you want to set for your reception? Do you want classy, with Jazz like Frank Sinatra? Do you want to have fun, you know there are a lot of EDM fun songs that you could have as background music. The sing-along songs like “Sweet Caroline”, whatever songs you want to have. Songs will give you an idea of how your guests are vibing, but also they can set the mood of the day. That is something to consider. Not only that, the song dedications. Is there anyone you want to dedicate to, maybe it is a memorial song for someone that has passed, or maybe there is a song that has a special meaning like the song for your alma mater, their fight song? Whatever special song make sure you give those to your musicians, or your DJ, or add those songs to your playlist as well.
Finally, what songs do you not want to be played? Like songs that make you cringe. Maybe you love the “Chicken Dance” and the “Cha Cha Slide”, maybe you don’t. So make sure those are on your do not play list. Maybe you were married before and you have your first dance song from your previous marriage, make sure that is on your do not play list. So there you have it, just a few song checklists of things you need to be thinking of when you select your wedding songs. This is our first podcast and recording of 2023, make sure you tune in to our next episode. Make sure you check out MyWeddingSongs.com and sign up for our monthly newsletter of all the newly released wedding songs for the month and also what is trending. Thanks for listening and have a great day.