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Songs For Your Wedding: A Complete Music Checklist

Wedding DJ Set Up

Weddings are a joyous occasion filled with love, celebration - and music! This includes traditional melodies, love ballads, and party tunes. From the ceremony through the reception, you'll have to choose which songs to be played. We want to help by taking you through the day of events with music so you'll know what to expect. It’ll be easier to keep track of all of the songs you need by following this complete music checklist. 

Bonus - we've compiled Best Wedding Reception Songs for each event!  

Wedding Ceremony Songs: Walk Down the Aisle Songs

The moment you and your partner have been waiting for - to get married! It's your time to walk down the aisle and live happily ever after. For this momentous occasion, select music to reflect this celebration. Talk with your partner about the type of music you both would like for the ceremony. Consider both personal preferences and traditional ceremony melodies you may like to have.

Bride and Groom Walking Down the Aisle

Wedding Prelude Songs

Excitement fills the air as the bridal party bustles around to get ready and guests are being seated. Background music will play during this time before the ceremony begins. This helps create the ambience for your wedding ceremony. Keep in mind your ceremony venue when picking out music. Soft instrumentals are usually played in a traditional setting. In an open setting, couples may want a playlist of non-instrumental love tunes. Some popular choices are 50's love songs or beloved Disney ballads. Only a few songs are needed to play for about 15-25 minutes during this down time.

Wedding Processional Song

Now it's time for the ceremony to start. The background music will switch to a wedding processional song. The couples' parents, grandparents, and other special parties will walk down the aisle. Following will be the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and flower girl and ring bearer. Only one song should be necessary for the groups to proceed through. The music could be a traditional processional instrumental, like “Canon in D Major” by Johann Pachelbel. It could also be a sweet melody, such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole.

Bridesmaid and Groomsman

Wedding March Music

Once the wedding party has found their places, there will be a moment of pause. In anticipation of the bride's entrance, the music will switch and everyone will stand. A traditional bridal processional is Richard Wagner's "Wedding March - Here Comes The Bride". For something more modern, a tender love song like Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years" is lovely to use. This song marks the beginning of a new chapter.

Bride and her father are smiling as they walk down the aisle.

Natalie Olsen Photography

Unity Ceremony Music

Intertwined in the wedding ceremony is an optional event. A unity ceremony is for the bride and groom to avow their commitment to one another. Talk with your partner about whether this is something you both would like to include. Examples of unity ceremonies are lighting a candle, planting a tree, or pouring sand into a vessel. Explore unity activities and and find something that feels meaningful for your relationship. Prepare a song or two to accompany this treasured action.

Bride and Groom pouring sand into a vessel during a unity ceremony.

Sidney Ashton Photography

Wedding Recessional Songs

After the couple's marriage has been officially announced, they will begin their exit. Music will start up and the bride and groom will lead the way with the bridal party following behind. The couple may choose a formal wedding recessional song if in a traditional setting. However, if not, the couple may wish to select a song that is special to them and reflects their relationship. This moment is all about you both- find a song to celebrate!

Wedding Recessional

Wedding Playlists (Getting Ready, Cocktail Hour, Dinner)

Along with the formal times to play music, there are also some less formal. This is the “in-between” time before the ceremony and during the reception. You can be more carefree with making these playlists because it is not the focus of your wedding. 

Wedding Getting Ready Music

There’s more to it than just getting ready - it’s about hanging out with your friends! Put together a playlist beforehand that both bridal parties can listen to. Be silly and have fun with picking this music - it’s just for you guys! You can also task both a bridesmaid or groomsman with this job. Just tell them to add the newer hits and find those old-school favorites that are a must with your crew. It’s okay if it comes the day of and making a playlist was forgotten- go on Spotify and search for one already made there! This music will elevate the mood and pump everyone up to get ready to celebrate!

Bridesmaids Getting Ready

Cocktail Hour/Dinner

During cocktail hour and dinner, play "background music" while everyone mingles and converses. If you have a DJ, you can ask them for their suggestion of what kind of playlists they have for this section of the night. Some couples choose relaxed instrumentals and others may want jazzy 50’s hits. Since this isn't the "party time" music and everyone will be busy talking with each other, there's no need to overthink it! Any music you choose will be perfect as long as it's quiet enough so that your guests can comfortably chat!

Wedding Dinner Buffet

Wedding Reception Songs

You just got married- now it’s time to celebrate! The wedding reception is a jubilant occasion following the ceremony to honor the newlyweds. Simply put, it’s party time! Much like the ceremony, your reception will have its own special moments. Have fun with choosing music that you and your partner enjoy- this is your time to shine!

Bridal Party Entrance Songs

Let’s get this party started! After cocktail hour, your guests will get seated for dinner. To kickoff the celebration, the bridal party will make an entrance. The DJ will play the bridal parties' song(s) and announce their arrival. This is when the bridesmaids and groomsmen will make their way to the head table. If you would like, the DJ can introduce all of the pairs as they pass by. We suggest choosing a song with an upbeat melody to liven up the mood and pump up the energy. This will mark the beginning of the festivities and it is meant to be light-hearted and fun! Some wedding parties will even do a silly brief performance as they enter the room.

The Best Bridal Party Entrance Songs:

  • “24K Magic” | Bruno Mars
  • "Can't Stop The Feeling" | Justin Timberlake
  • "Let's Get It Started In Here" | Black Eyed Peas
  • "Party Rock Anthem" | LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennet
  • "Crazy In Love" | Beyonce ft. Jay Z

Bridal Party Entrance

Newlywed's Grand Entrance

Now it's your turn! Once the bridal party has made their way to the head table, it's time to make your grand entrance as newlyweds. Everyone will cheer you on as the DJ announces and welcomes you in. Many times a couple will do something cutesy like a twirl, dip, and a kiss! You'll need to find a song for your big entrance. It could be a party pump-up tune or a rockin'-fun love song. Wedding tip: you can also continue the same song that the bridal party walked in with! Either way, find a song or two that'll be a fun jam to start the party! 

The Best Grand Entrance Songs:

  • “I’m a Believer” | Smash Mouth
  • "Paper Rings" | Taylor Swift
  • “Power of Love” | Huey Lewis and the News
  • “Treasure” | Bruno Mars

Bride and Groom Grand Entrance Wedding

First Dance Songs

Before you all can party the night away, one of the most cherished moments of the night will be your first dance. Much like the wedding vows, it is an intimate gesture the bride and groom share together. Of all the songs you have to pick for your wedding, this is one of the most important. Choose a song with sentimental significance or one that is meaningful to you both. 

 The Best First Dance Wedding Songs:

  • "Daylight" | Taylor Swift
  • "Speechless" | Dan & Shay
  • "All Of Me" | John Legend
  • “Perfect” | Ed Sheeran
  • "Somebody Like You" | Keith Urban
  • "I Won't Give Up" | Jason Mraz
  • "Die A Happy Man" | Thomas Rhett
  • "Everything" | Michael Buble
  • "I Could Not Ask For More" | Edwin McCain

Couple First Dance

Father Daughter Dance Songs

Following the first dance is the father/daughter dance. This is a special moment for the bride to share with her dad. They should find a song that best represents their relationship and unique bond. The bride could ask for her dad's input, or decide on a song that they already love or she knows is perfect for them. Sometimes the bride's dad may like to pick out the song on his own and dedicate it to his daughter. This will be such a treasured memory for the bride and her dad.

The Best Father/Daughter Songs:

  • "This Dance" | Scott Thomas
  • "My Little Girl" | Tim McGraw
  • "I Loved Her First" | Heartland
  • "It Won't Be Like This For Long" | Darius Rucker
  • "My Girl" | The Temptations
  • "Isn't She Lovely" | Stevie WonderMother/Son Dance

Father Daughter Wedding Dance

Mother Son Wedding Dance Songs

Next is the mother/son dance. As with the previous, this is a special moment the groom shares with his mom. When looking for a song, the groom could talk with his mom and find one together or she may have one already in mind. Or the groom may pick a song with a sweet message and surprise his mom with it. This will be a greatly cherished memory for the groom and his mom.

The Best Mother/Son Songs:

  • "Letter To My Mother" | Edwin McCain
  • "Humble And Kind" | Tim McGraw
  • "How Sweet It Is" | James Taylor
  • "Mothers & Sons" | Paul Bogart
  • "My Wish" | Rascal Flatts
  • "That's What Mamas Are For" | Chris Lane
Groom and his mother smiling as they're dancing during the Mother/ Son Dance.

Carhart Photography

Wedding Party Songs

It’s time to party! Once the formal dances have finished, the dance floor will be open to everyone. The first song is crucial because it kickstarts the rest of the evening and energizes the crowd. Sometimes the bride and groom will have their bridal party join the dance floor first to get it hyped up. Pick a favorite song that makes you want to run to the dance floor and belt out!

The Best Wedding Party Songs:

  • "You Belong With Me" | Taylor Swift
  • "Dynamite" | Taio Cruz
  • "Time Of Our Lives" | Pitbull & Ne-Yo
  • "Uptown Funk" | Mark Ronson ft. Bruno mars
  • "Timber" | Pitbull ft. Ke$ha
  • "Club Can't Handle Me" | Flo Rida ft. David Guetta
  • "Just Dance" | Lady Gaga ft. Colby O'Donis
  • "Raise Your Glass" | P!nk
  • "Wannabe" | Spice Girls
  • "Let's Get It Started In Here" | Black Eyed Peas
  • "This Is How We Do It" | Montell Jordan 

Dancing at Wedding Reception

Dollar Dance

The dollar dance is a fun way for guests to shower the newlyweds with money.  It's also a chance for guests to connect with the bride or groom one-on-one and give their well wishes. For some families it is a tradition and they request it. For others, it may not be as common. Whether to have a dollar dance or not is up to the bride and groom. If you do decide to have it, just remember to choose at least two fun songs that are easy to talk and dance to!

The Best Dollar Dance Songs:

  • "September" | Earth, Wind, and Fire
  • "Superstition" | Stevie Wonder
  • "You're My Best Friend" | Queen

Cake Cutting

The cake cutting is a sweet moment (literally!) between the bride and groom. The modern message of the tradition is that the couple will support and care for one another. Although wedding cakes are not as popular anymore, many couples will buy a small cake to cut together. It's a cute activity that the newlyweds can be playful with- and the song should be just as sweet as the cake!

The Best Cake Cutting Songs:

  • "Adore You" | Harry Styles
  • "No One" | Alicia Keys
  • "I Do" | Colbie Caillat
  • "Sugar" | Maroon 5
  • "Fly Me To The Moon" | Frank Sinatra
Bride and Groom smiling as they cut the wedding cake. It is a three-tier cake decorated with flowers and greenery.

Kendall Parsons Photography

Bouquet Toss

The bouquet toss is a wedding tradition for the bride to share with all of the single and unmarried ladies. It’s meant as a fun way for the bride to pass on luck as the bouquet is thought to represent good luck and happiness. Choose an awesome girl power song for these ladies to dance to and get excited! The DJ will announce to gather on the dance floor and the bride will throw her bouquet over to the crowd. Whoever catches the bouquet is said to be the next lady to be married. 

The Best Wedding Bouquet Toss Songs:

  • "Single Ladies" | Beyonce
  • "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!" | Shania Twain
  • "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" | Cyndi Lauper
Bride looking over her shoulder as she tosses her bouquet to a crowd of women.

Kennedy Blue "Devin- Beaded" in 'Slate Blue' | Natalie Olsen Photography

Garter Toss

The garter toss is a wedding tradition that coincides with the bouquet toss. It is for all of the single and unmarried guys. This is meant as a silly romantic moment for the newlyweds as the groom retrieves the bride’s garter. As with any tradition, it is a decision for the couple to make if they decide to include or modify it. Pick an entertaining song for these guys to gather on the dance floor and wait for the garter to be thrown. Whoever catches the garter is said to be the next guy to be married. 

The Best Wedding Garter Toss Songs:

  • "It's Tricky" | Run DMC
  • "Let's Get It On" | Marvin Gaye
  • "Pony" | Genuwine

Wedding Reception

Wedding Closing Song

It’s been the best day ever, but the end of the night is nearing- make sure to close out your wedding with some fun jams! You’ll want to get everyone out on the dance floor for the last couple of songs. It’s the perfect time to play a crowd classic. Pick a tune that everyone can belt out all of the lyrics to and dance with together in a group. The last songs of a wedding are always the most fun because it gets everyone together! 

The Best Wedding Closing Songs:

  • "We Found Love" | Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris
  • "Love On Top" | Beyonce
  • "Marry You" | Bruno Mars
  • "I Only Want To Be With You" | Hootie & The Blowfish
  • "As Long As You Love Me" | Backstreet Boys
  • "December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)" | Franki Valli & The Four Seasons
  • "All The Small Things" | Blink 182
  • "Wagon Wheel" | Darius Rucker
  • "Fishing In The Dark" | Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • "Let's Get Married" | Jagged Edge
Group of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen in a circle enthusiastically singing the song. They have light up necklaces and blow-up guitars.

Kennedy Blue in 'Slate Blue' | Ends of the Earth

Last Dance Music

Now it’s come to the last dance of the night. With your friends and loved ones out on the dance floor, make a big circle and rock this last song out! Whether it's a love ballad or a crowd-rocking song, it gets everyone you know together for a group hug dance! As you all sway back and forth and yell out the lyrics in unison, it's the best dance of the night! You'll feel the love in the room that came together for your wedding. End the song by going into the middle with your partner and do a couple of those spins you've been practicing! Everyone will clap and cheer as you take a final dip. 

The Best Last Dance Songs:

  • "Don't Stop Believin" | Journey
  • "Livin' On A Prayer" | Bon Jovi
  • "Piano Man" | Billy Joel
  • "We Are The Champions" | Queen
  • "Sweet Caroline" | Neil Diamond
  • "Joy To The World" | Three Dog Night
  • "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" | Aerosmith
  • "From This Moment On" | Shania Twain

Wedding Last Dance

Let’s Chat!

We hope that this event song checklist helps as you plan out what music to play at your wedding! Also, please remember that every wedding is special and to make this day uniquely yours! Your wedding does not need to include all or any of these events- and you can add other events that weren’t even listed! Plan your ceremony and reception for what works for you- and play songs that make you and your partner happy. Please let us know if this checklist and song recommendations have helped you! Happy Planning!

Wedding Sparkler Exit

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After dancing the night away, it’s time for some serious R&R! Find a spot on the couch or plan a relaxing day with these Things To Do The Day After The Wedding.

Things To Do After the Wedding

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Leave a comment

Tabatha Henson
July 01, 2022 09:25

This is so helpful

Sherrie Simmons
June 19, 2022 20:16

There have been several songs suggested to me for our Mother Son dance and I REALLY suggest you preview the song. Listen to the words and make sure the intended meaning isn’t skewed. Some of the songs that are being used for Mother/Son or Father/Daughter I found more appropriate for Groom to bride.

Franjessica Blagg
June 03, 2022 13:57

I’ve been having the hardest time trying to figure out where some of my music should go, this blog was so helpful!

Newly Engaged
June 03, 2022 13:54

Definitely read the lyrics of a song before adding it to your wedding! A lot of people have used songs like “I’ll be watching you” for their first dance and it comes across as a little off-putting. It’s been easier to scroll through songs on Spotify or ask friends for recommendations as well. Good luck and have fun!

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