Despite the challenges that wedding planning has faced in 2020 – and into 2021 – the music for your day is one of those planning aspects you can still get ahead with. Yes, whether your date is booked, provisional or not yet settled, planning party music for wedding celebrations is one of those tasks which can be usefully done ahead of time. And thinking about it in the context of the phases of the day can start to bring the event to life for you, even when life isn’t yet normal!

To help you gather ideas about party music for wedding receptions, Sean advises thinking about your day across the different phases and events within it …

#1. getting ready playlist

Having a prearranged list of music will make the day feel special from the start. Start the wedding party music list right from the getting ready part of the day:

  • Zoom the bridesmaids and maids of honour and have a drink, a catch up and even a bit of a virtual party whilst you choose this playlist. In the absence of hen or stag gatherings, this could be a way of enjoying the build up to the big day too!
  • Honour your besty by including their favourite ever song on the list.
  • Think about the songs which have special shared meaning for those who are helping you to get ready on the day.
  • Use a streaming software such as Spotify, where you can create a playlist and share, to get those who’ll be helping to add their music choices and suggestions.

"If you have an artist you particularly like but don't want that choice to dominate your playlist is to use the artist radio setting in Spotify. Putting your artist in there will pull up a playlist of other songs, which relate somehow in genre, style or even just from the year. I guarantee you'll come up with some musical memories you'd completely forgotten about!"

#2 before the ceremony and walking out music

Whatever type of venue you’re going for – civic office, church, hotel or historic venue, you’ll probably be asked if you want them to put on “some music” whilst guests arrive on the day.

Whilst the venue might have some great experience and suggestions which fit weddings in general, it’s even better to have music that relevant to your families when they are waiting at the start of the ceremony.

As an alternative, you could also talk to your DJ. Even if they’re not going to be involved in the pre-ceremony moments, they’ll have a suitable playlist or be able to come up with one from getting to know you.

And then there’s the moment the guests have been waiting for … the couple coming together at the front for the ceremony. Depending on how this is happening – one waiting for the other, or both walking out together, it’s still important that the choice signals the change from waiting to the nuptials actually beginning. 

"Think about songs that have meaning for both of you, and for the event itself. Songs like Starship's 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" can be a popular choice. You might also want to think about a particular version of a song ... 'Feeling Good' is an awesome song for marking the moment but, of all the versions, Nina Simone's really packs a punch and announces what's about to happen right from the very first note!"

#3. drinks reception

You’ll be married by now! This is the phase of the day where the pressure’s off and you can start to relax and spend time with your guests properly.

So at this stage you’re most likely to leave your DJ to do make magic with the music. Agreeing a playlist in advance, which includes many family favourites could go in here. It might also be the point where the DJ starts to include pre-requested songs from your guests (you can read about this idea here).

If you’ve booked a band and a DJ separately, you’ll need to give the DJ a copy of the band’s playlist to avoid repeats. However, if you organise your live music through Sean, Sean and Cali will organise this for you -so that’s one thing less you’ll need to do!

#4 wedding breakfast and speeches

Party music for weddings also includes those moments when other things are going on … like eating, drinking and speeched. Depending on your musical tastes and that of your guests, you might like to keep the music going throughout this phase with:

  • Music from a classic era that suits your preference and age group, hello ‘80’s and ’90s classics.
  • A mixture of oldies.
  • A classical music playlist – particularly during the speeches.
  • An acoustic set or quartet band.


Whatever your preferences, discuss with your DJ what sort of vibe you’re going to want at this time. This is where having discussed an organised a playlist in advance is a big help. Having a pre-set playlist at this quieter stage in the celebrations also gives the DJ the chance to take a break if they’re providing the music for you into the evening too.

special moments in the reception and party

The wedding reception also includes some special moments that a good DJ will want to plan in advance with you. So, it’s good advice to spend a bit of time in advance organising the background party music for wedding traditions, those key moments which could be part of your party. 

That way, you’ll be able to identify any gaps in your playlist and ask your DJ for help and suggestions so you can get the planning nailed and enjoy any of these additional games and traditions you choose to include in your celebration:

Depending on your personalities as a couple, you may want to consider something dramatic,  such as some film-score music from The Lord of the Rings. If you’d rather play for your guests, then a romance-friendly crooner like Nat King Cole or Tom Odell’s cover of Lennon’s Real Love is a real audience-pleaser.

If you don’t want music in the background, ask your DJ for help with a countdown. Sean’s wedding DJ PA system, screens and digital set-up means he can display a digital countdown and get the guests involved in counting down to those traditions of cutting the cake and …

The best wedding DJs will get your enthusiastic guests up on the dance floor anyway, so it’s an easy thing to keep them there for the traditional throwing of the bouquet. Let the DJ know your choice and a good DJ will ensure there’s an awesome floor-filler playing just before, so you have your guests exactly where you want them. Again, a countdown is absolutely possible and a fun track in the background could add to the sense of  excitement, so start thinking about your ideal track.

This is the one that you really want to get right.  Supposing you’ve had dance lessons before lockdown … is it possible to have a refresher with your instructor via Zoom or Facetime?  If you’re planning to wow your guests with a dance and you can’t decide between a handful of songs, your dance coach will be able to tell you which would suit the dance you’ve learnt. Then it’s just a case of liaising with the DJ so that the song is cued up and ready to go.

Even if you’re not doing a display dance, make sure you’ve communicated your first dance track – or lack of options – to the DJ in advance. If you’re stuck, check out the music charts for the year you met, or think about any music that happened to be playing when you met or during the proposal. Failing that for inspiration, speak to your DJ. A DJ like Sean will have lots of ideas and inspiration for you. 

And if you have your own perfect choice, sharing this as part of the party planning means the right DJ will be able to organise all the extras such as lights and even the wisps of romantic fog (Platinum & Diamond wedding packages) so that it’s all ready when you take to the floor.

There are plenty of special family dances traditionally associated with wedding parties. Maybe have a think about the music for father-daughter, mother-son dances and all of those family variations in between.

Popular choices include I Loved Her First by Heartland and John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy.

When you’re organising that all-important party music for wedding receptions, and you find yourself low on ideas, taps into the aspect of family – after all, your celebration’s all about two families joining to make a new one!

Pop Sister Sledge’s We Are Family in there for a start (who amongst us has never hit the dance floor with that one). Once you start thinking along these lines, you can just take it from there! 

questions to ask wedding venue, wedding entertainment

So even if you can’t get your wedding date as confirmed as you’d like just yet, there’s a bit of fun to be had with planning those playlists. The more you think about your day in these different phases, the more you’ll come up with other ideas and inspirations for the music and other entertainments. But of course, Sean has a last word to say about that …

"It's great to work with couples in advance, I can do it in a way that's as hassle-free and easy as possible, but I always say to my customers, if you've forgotten something then don't worry ... it's never too late to sort it! This year, a bride made a last minute decision to do a special dance with her father but didn't have a clue what to choose. I told her to leave it with me and enjoy her party whilst I had a little think! And when the time came for that special moment? It turns out I couldn't have chosen a more perfect song ... there wasn't a dry eye in the house and the family had a whole extra memory to add to their fantastic day. And to me, that's what it's all about ... whether it's in the background or central to the moment, your music should be part of making the day memorable."

Let's talk wedding music!

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