Six Steps to Picking Your Wedding Day Music

Ah, the power of music!! Music has the ability to bring joy to our hearts, tears to our eyes and even transport us back in time. And for some of you, music may also play an important role in your relationship, too. Concerts you’ve attended, road trip play lists, maybe even a few kitchen dance parties only you know about! Creating the soundtrack for the happiest day of your life is a big deal. From your processional down the aisle to the last dance of your reception, it’s important to pick the right music for each moment of your big day. But, before you start curating that perfect song list, there are a few things to consider. Below, I’m sharing our top tips for selecting your wedding day music.

Step 1: Consider your venue and setting

Ensuring that your music selection is appropriate for the venue – especially your ceremony venue – is your first step. Depending on the type of wedding ceremony you’re planning to have, there may be specific music that is required. If you’re having a civil ceremony in a garden or vineyard, for example, it’s not necessary to play religious or classical music and you can get more creative with your musical choices and even the instruments – soul choir anyone?! In contrast, a Church or religious wedding will likely require you to select from a list of music that is appropriate for the religious institution. In some Jewish weddings, traditional music such as “Siman Tov U’Mazel Tov” may be played. And for Indian weddings, you may want to consider hiring a Dhol player for your Bharat.

Step 2: Decide on a band or DJ for your wedding day music

Next, you’ll need to decide whether you want live or recorded music. As a big fan of live music, when possible, I encourage our clients to go with a band option like West Coast Music, The Mighty Untouchables or Bob Gail Music to name a few. That said, live music can cost a lot more than a DJ. Also, some bands will only play a certain genre or have a limited playlist, while DJ’s may be open to more song variety, and, for cultural weddings, knowledgeable in observing traditions such as a specialized Indian DJ. Before picking any song choices, consider whether you want a band, DJ or combination of both based on your budget and style – for example, a harpist or string quartet for ceremony, a bluesy-duo for cocktail hour, a band for the reception and a DJ for your after-party. Today’s DJ’s come in different formats, too. A “DJ Live” incorporates live musicians into their mashups for an interactive experience. There are also DJ’s who specialize in “Silent Discos” where guests dance to music played through headphones.

Step 3: Start with the basics

Before you move on to curating your play list, you need to know what music you’ll need. From the processional and recessional at your ceremony to the first dance and cake cutting at your reception, start by writing down the order of events and major moments, and then you can fill out the rest of your playlist. Be sure to consider the mood of each moment carefully. Something a little slower and perhaps more romantic for your processional, and then upbeat and lively for the recessional. Of course, you can always break the rules since this is your wedding! Below is a Music Selection ‘cheat sheet’ we’ve created for you to help guide this process.

Step 4: Knowing what you don’t like is as important as what you do like

Ideally, you’ll be on the dance floor for the entire dance portion of the evening, so make sure that it’s music you want to dance too. Most bands provide a play list for you to select from. If you’re using a DJ, you may want to provide a list of your favorite artists as well as songs you love, too. Be sure to include a mix – slower jams during dinner and a high energy dance set to get everyone onto the floor. As important is providing your ‘do not play’ list to your band or DJ so that you’re not stuck having to hear any songs (and song requests) you dislike.

music wedding band live

Step 5: Gather inspiration for your wedding day music

Putting your playlist together should be fun. It should also be a mix of songs you both love. Start by putting together a list of your favorites. Keep in mind, not all your music selections need to have lyrics and/or can sound quite different when played acoustically. Think through your favorite movies; search Spotify for wedding playlists; watch some wedding videos; and search the year’s top music playlists – for weddings or otherwise. You may find some hidden gems you never would have known about.

Step 6: Not all sound systems are created equal

Your venue may have a sound system or speakers on hand—great news! But we always recommend hiring a sound tech to handle speakers, microphones and audio for our weddings. Insist on a soundcheck (most bands and DJs will absolutely do this) and do make sure to check on any decibel limitations or noise ordinance your venue may have.

Selecting your music is a fun and extremely important wedding exercise, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to review your list together, and with your band or DJ beforehand. If anything doesn’t seem right, swap it out – there are plenty of songs to choose from. For more wedding planning tips and expert advice, read more from the HauteFêtes wedding blog.

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