You can ask just about anyone and they’ll tell you - the reception is their favorite part of any wedding! Not to say that the ceremony isn’t tear-jerkingly beautiful or the cocktail hour isn’t a social heaven. But let’s be honest — who doesn’t love a good party!? There’s delicious food, tasty drinks, great company, and (hopefully)g great music! The wedding reception playlist can literally be a make or break for your guests. From mixing up the genres to playing a good mix of fast and slow beats, there’s an art to creating the perfect playlist and it’s not something you’ll want to rush!
So whether you’re debating DIY vs. DJ, trying to come up with the perfect song list, of just in need a few pointers to get started, I’m here to help you create a set list that will get your guests excited and out onto the dance floor!
DJ vs. DIY: Creating Your Wedding Reception Playlist
The first step is deciding whether you want to hire a professional DJ or tackle the job yourself. DJ’s will cost you a pretty penny, but they are professionals for a reason and will take time and stress off your plate. They’ll handle the logistics, timing, MC’ing, and pretty much all the dirty work. On the other hand, you might enjoy the task of putting together a set-list from scratch, compiling all of your favorite classic love songs, and having total control over what songs play. (Tip: We recommend using Spotify to make your wedding playlist!)
Side note: If you’re skipping out on a DJ, someone will have to be in control of the playlists throughout the event. Make sure it’s someone who you can depend on and maybe test out a few run-throughs before the big day!
Wedding Song Ideas: Brainstorming the Perfect Reception Playlist
Anne Bridesmaid Dress in Cinnamon | Santi Murillo
Whether you’re making a list from scratch or hiring a DJ, it’s always fun to add a personal touch. As a soon-to-be bride or groom, you’ve probably heard random songs and thought, “that’d be great for the wedding!” From classic love songs to Top 40 hits, this is your chance to put together a list of songs that you’d love to be played on your big day!
1) Make a song list with your fiancé.
This might sound obvious, but it's the most traditional way of choosing your music. Remember, this day is about the TWO of you so you want your music to reflect that. Make sure to sit down with your fiancé and see what songs he/she would like to be played. Talk about your first dance, what you want played during the mother/father dances, and so forth. Don’t forget to run the final set list with them, as well!
2) Ask for song requests from your wedding guests.
You’ve probably either seen or heard of this method at either a wedding you’ve attended or on TikTok. Couples reach out to their guests to ask them what they’d like to hear at the wedding. Smart, right? Some couples like to plan ahead by adding a “Song Request” to their RSVPs, while others leave it completely up to the guests by leaving music request cards on the DJ booth or dinner tables.
Wedding Song Request Slips | Song Request RSVPs
3) Host a playlist-making party.
Pretty self explanatory, right? You and your friends can get together, sip some champagne, and have a fun time throwing out song ideas! Not to mention, it’s a great way to get some bonding time with your bridesmaids. Depending on your group of gal pals, I wouldn’t take this method TOO seriously. Instead, take it as an opportunity to hang out and have fun! To (help) avoid any distractions, have everyone come with 5-10 songs that they would love to hear played at the wedding. That way, if nothing else gets accomplished, you’ll at least have those 30-80 different options to choose from. Sounds like a win to me!
4) Create a collaborative playlist.
We’re in the age of technology so why not take full advantage of it. On music platforms such as Spotify (my personal favorite!), you can create collaborative playlists that allow family and friends to add to. Share it with as many or as few people as you wish and watch the music suggestions start flowing in!
Tips for Creating the Best Wedding Reception Playlist
Having a good mix of your favorite music, current popular music, and classics will likely be the way to go! You want to cater to each of your guests as much as possible - and that could range from a 15-year old junior bridesmaid to your grandpa!
1) Include More Music Than You Think You'll Need:
If you’re making the set list on your own, make sure to include PLENTY of music. Depending on the length of the reception, think 3-5 hours worth. Don’t forget to include a few extra songs for each event just in case the cocktail hour or processional goes a little long or is delayed.
MOH in Cameron | Bridesmaids in Ryan | CR Photos
2) Add a Variety of Music Genres to Your Wedding Playlist
Not everyone will be thrilled to listen to Frank Sinatra all night and some might be terrified if all you play is Top 40 rap hits. To get a good reaction from the crowd, make sure to mix up classic love songs with modern dance hits, and so on.
3) Play 1 Slow Song for Every 5 Upbeat Songs
It’s super important to keep a fluctuation in the tempo/energy of the music. If you constantly play one fast hit after another, the crowd is going to quickly burn out. Think of it as a graph that oscillates up and down. You want to gradually build the crowd up, and then take them back down slowly so they have a chance to relax.
4) Avoid Any Overly-Negative or Non-Romantic Songs
Trust me, there have been TONS of times where I heard something on the radio and thought, “this is so romantic!”, until I actually listened to the words and realized it was anything but! That being said, choose wisely.
Elena Bridesmaid Dress | Local Embers
5) Listen to Your Entire Playlist Before the Wedding
You may not want to do this in one sitting as it could literally take hours, but if you’re DJ’ing the big day via iTunes or an app, you’ll want to make sure that there are no awkward gaps, moments of silence, or weird transitions. If there are, you can use Wedding Republic’s advice for fixing those issues!
6) Stay True to Your Musical Tastes
Quite simply, if you don’t like country, don’t play it. If you can’t stand the thought of listening to “Don’t Stop Believin” one more time, that’s fine! Your musically tastes reflect you and your fiancé as a couple so don’t be afraid to showcase that!
Get Started Planning Your Wedding Music Playlist!
Hopefully this guide will help lead you on your way to creating the ultimate wedding reception playlist that perfectly suits you and your fiancé. It’s definitely going to take some time, but after you’ve finished, you won’t be able to contain your excitement to get out on the dance floor!
What are some of your must-have songs for your big day? Let us know by dropping a comment!
Should I play each genre of music together as a clump or should I spread out songs from different genres throughout the playlist?
I don’t appreciate how you’ve said here that “some might be terrified if all you play is Top 40 rap hits”, it sounds like a racist micro aggression. Gross.
I like how you brought up that hiring a DJ for a wedding takes away stress and stops you from having to do all the dirty work setting up the playlist. My cousin is getting married in a couple of months and I know she’s going to want the perfect music set up. I’ll talk to her about hiring a DJ so that she doesn’t stress out over the music. Thanks for your advice on why hiring a DJ is a good idea for a wedding.
Chris Stapleton – Tennessee Whiskey
This has been very helpful. I’m getting married this August 25, and have been struggling on how to create the list
Dan and Shay- How Not To
Dylan Scott- My Girl
Christina Perri- Be My Forever
Tim McGraw- Diamond Rings and Ol