The Important Parts of Your Wedding That Need Music

Dancing couples during party or wedding celebration

There are so many important decisions to make for your wedding day: picking the date, choosing a venue and finding your dream dress, just to name a few. But one of the most important things you’ll need to choose for your wedding day is your music. Your wedding-day playlist will bring you joy throughout the day—from the getting-ready music to the last dance as husband and wife.

It’s super important to talk through your music with your DJ, band or musician and make sure they have the right order for the day. We’ll break down every part of the day that you’ll want to play music, plus our top picks for each category.

Bridal party getting ready


Getting-Ready Music

This is the playlist that you and your girls will listen to while you’re getting your hair and makeup done, drinking mimosas, taking pre-wedding photos, etc. It can be your favorite songs from high school or college, something fun and upbeat. Basically, any kind of music that puts you in a good mood!

Our getting-ready pick:  Side to Side by Ariana Grande

Prelude Music

Prelude music is the pre-ceremony music that will play as your guests arrive and find a seat. This music is the first thing your guests will hear for your wedding and is typically light background music. Your DJ or ceremony musician should have a list of songs that fit your wedding style, but you can request something specific as well.

Our prelude pick: Your Hands Are Cold by Dario Marianelli

Wedding ceremony recessional


Processional & Recessional Music

Now we’re to the ceremony music—typically called the processional and recessional. The processional song is the music that your family and wedding party walks down the aisle to. This can be one song for everyone, or two songs split between family and the rest of the wedding party. Instrumental music is typically played, but you can totally make this your own style as well.

You’ll want to choose a totally different song for the bridal processional because you obviously deserve a special grand entrance. You can go with something traditional like the wedding march or a song that’s more meaningful and special to you. (This is our favorite part of the ceremony!)

Don’t forget the recessional! This is the song that will play as you and your new spouse exit the ceremony, followed by your wedding party. This music is lively, happy and upbeat. (Dancing up the aisle is also HIGHLY encouraged!)

Our processional pick: A Thousand Years by Christina Perri (Piano/Cello cover)

Our bridal processional pick: Marry Me by Train (Piano cover)

Our recessional pick: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder

Cocktail Hour Music

Now that the ceremony is over, it’s time to keep your guests entertained during cocktail hour. Again, this music is all about your wedding style. It can be light background music, smooth jazz, or even music from your favorite genre. It’s very similar to the music you’ll play while dinner is served (which we will get to later).

Our cocktail hour pick:  Feeling Good by Michael Bublé

Group dance at a wedding


Reception Music

This is where the party STARTS! The reception is going to host the bulk of the music for the day and it’s the most fun/upbeat/lively/loud portion of your wedding. There are lots of songs to consider here, so we’ll break it down into even more sections.

Introductions (The Wedding Party, Bride & Groom)

This is where the DJ kicks off the reception by introducing the wedding party and the new Mr. and Mrs. For the first song, the party will be announced by name and each party member typically does a little dance as they walk into the reception space. Once everyone enters, the bride and groom are announced with their own song and the crowd goes wild!

Our wedding party introduction pick:  Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars

Our bride & groom introduction pick:  I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas

Bride and groom's first dance


First Dance

Right after the introductions, the bride and groom typically go into their first dance. This is generally a slow song where the couple can enjoy a slow dance in front of all their family and friends. It’s typically a song that means something to the couple and can be choreographed as well.

Our first dance pick: Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

Dinner Music

Don’t have your guests waiting too long to eat! For the dinner hour, the DJ will have a set playlist of background music—a similar style of your cocktail hour music. They may even repeat the same playlist during this time.

Our dinner music pick: Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra

Father/daughter and mother/son dance


Family Dances (Father/Daughter, Mother/Son)

Once everyone is good and fed, it’s time to move into the family dances—mother/son and father/daughter. Again, this may be a feel-good song that you and your respective parents listened to growing up or it has a special memory attached to it.

If you don’t have a special song, there are plenty of heartfelt options to choose from. If you’re more of a strut-your-stuff kind of family, pick something fun and lively to dance to.

Our father/daughter pick: I Loved Her First by Heartland

Our mother/son pick: My Wish by Rascal Flatts

Wedding reception dancing


Party Music

Now it’s time to get EVERYONE on the dance floor. This is where the group dances and party music really ramp up. We love when a DJ pulls out an “oldy but goody” and plays something fun from the 70s or 80s that everyone will enjoy. (We’re looking at you, YMCA.)

As the night goes on, the music (& tempo) gets a little faster and more nightclub-esqe. Picture large group dances, country line dances, singalong songs and spontaneous breakdancing. (Trust us, we’ve seen it all.) This is also the part of the night where you can throw in a few more slow dances—but not too many or you’ll lose the crowd!

Our large group dance pick: Wobble by V.I.C.

Our country line dance pick: Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex

Our singalong song pick: I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston

Our spontaneous breakdancing pick: Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO

Activity Music

This next section, called “activity music”, is where you’ll throw in the cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss. These are totally optional, but it’s nice to choose a song for each activity. These are always great crowd-gathering activities and very interactive, so choose something fun!

Our cake cutting pick: How Sweet it is (to be loved by you) by James Taylor

Our cake bouquet toss pick: Ladies Night by Kool and the Gang

Our garter toss pick: Pony by Ginuwine

Private last dance


Last Dance (Group & Private)

We’ve almost made it to the end of the night, but we have two more songs left! The last group dance is the final song the DJ will play for everyone on the dance floor. It’s the song before your guests get kicked out so that you and your spouse can have a private last dance.

The private dance is another special song that only you and your spouse get to enjoy. We like to tell brides and grooms to each pick their favorite song—one for the first dance and one for the last dance. That way, you both get to hear your song for one another. Just like the first dance, this song is typically a slow song for you and your new spouse to soak in the final moment of the night.

Our last group dance pick: Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

Our private dance pick: Come Away With Me by Norah Jones