How To Create a Wedding Reception Playlist That Rocks

by Danielle Salazar August 18, 2015

You can ask just about any person around and they’ll tell you, the reception is by far 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 let’s not forget about the 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!

How To Create a Wedding Reception Playlist That Rocks

DJ vs. DIY: Creating Your Own Wedding Reception Playlist

The first step is deciding whether you want to hire a professional DJ or whether you want to tackle the job yourself. DJ’s will cost you a pretty penny, but they are professionals for a reason and will take a lot of time and stress off of your plate. They’ll handle the logistics, the timing, the MC’ing, and pretty much all the dirty work. On the other hand, for all my DIY brides out there, 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 does and does not play. If that’s the route you decide to take, there’s a few different options in doing so.

Create your wedding reception playlist using iTunes. Keep in mind, you have to own all of the music so it might cost you a little bit to get all the songs you want to include in your set. The easiest way to go about creating your list is by creating a playlist within iTunes and to create sublists for each event throughout the day (ie. Processional, Recessional, First Dance, etc.). From there, you can start adding songs to each sublist to create your ideal arrangements. For more details on making a full set list, check out Wedding Republic’s blog to ensure everything runs smoothly!

Use an app such as WeddingDJ. It will cost you $7.99 and you still have to use all of your own music, but WeddingDJ is pre-programmed with all of the day’s events so you’ll know if you’re forgetting anything or not! Not only is it super simple to use, but it’s smart enough to take requests and make changes on the go.

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!

4 Fun Ways to Come Up With Song Ideas

How To Create a Wedding Reception Playlist That RocksCreated by The Lovely Dept. for Elizabeth Anne Designs

Whether you’re making your set list from scratch or hiring a DJ to do the work for you, it’s always fun to add a personal touch to things. As a soon-to-be bride, you’ve probably heard random songs here and there 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 list with your fiancé. This might sound obvious, but before I dive into all of the not-so-traditional ways of choosing your music, I figured I should start with this. 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 requests. You’ve probably seen this method done at either a wedding you’ve attended, on wedding blog, or even on Pinterest. Couples are reaching 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” line to their RSVP’s, while others leave it completely up to the guests by leaving music request cards on the DJ booth or dinner tables.

  3. Host a playlist-making party. Pretty self explanatory, right? You and your girlfriends can all get together, sip some champagne, and have a super fun time throwing out ideas for different songs! Not to mention, it’s a great way to get some bonding time with your bridesmaids. Now, keep in mind, depending on your group of gal pals, I wouldn’t take this method TOO seriously. If you’re anything like me and my friends, you’ll end up spending the majority of your time listening to throwback NSYNC and Nelly while reminiscing about “the good ol days” after too much champagne. To (help) avoid any distractions, have each girl come with a list of 5-10 songs that she 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. That 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 Perfect Reception Playlist

How To Create a Wedding Reception Playlist That RocksRebekah Hoyt Photography

  • 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.

  • Add a mix of genres. 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.

  • Play 1 slow song for every 5 fast 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.

  • 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.

  • Listen to your entire playlist. 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!

  • 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!

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!

Let’s chat: What are some of your must-have songs for your big day? Let us know by dropping a comment!

Danielle Salazar
Danielle Salazar


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