This month’s Wedding Music Guide Series comes to a close by rounding up EVERYTHING you need to know about choosing your wedding music.

For me, music is one of my favourite things about a wedding. Music is a very personal thing. As individuals, we all have our own tastes, likes and dislikes, and that definitely applies to couples too. Many meet through their love of music and throughout their experience together as a couple, certain songs will mark different stages of their lives together. Whether it’s attending your first gig as a couple, a song from your favourite movie, or simply just a tune that sums you both up, there’s no denying the great power of music in evoking memories and emotions.

So with that being said, music, for many, will be a big part of their wedding day and when it comes to choosing it, there’s a lot to consider. Elements such as the flow of the day, highlighting key moments, a meaningful song for that first dance and those which you definitely don’t want to hear, all deserve a little time mulling over.

However, we, of course, are here to lend a helping hand. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve complied a bumper guide of top tips for choosing your wedding music.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING MUSIC

Call a friend (or two)

If you’re at the age where all your friends are getting married, you’re in luck! It’s time to poll your peers. Ask family and friends for recommendations on musicians, DJs and bands. Suss out whose dance floors were packed and those which were empty for a cue on which musicians have what it takes. Needless to say, you can count on a wedding guest to give you an unbiased review!

Suss out the sound

Analysing your acoustics initially is a great way to determine the type of music to go for. For instance, if you’re getting married on a beach, a string quartet will definitely be drowned out by the crashing waves. Likewise, a small, intimate marquee wedding won’t necessarily call for a big live band. Finally, if you’re luckily enough to be getting married outdoors, you’ll need to check if noise restrictions apply.

See them in action

Whether it’s an instrumentalist at your ceremony or a band at your reception, seeing them in action is key! Many bands will tell couples to pop along to another venue to hear them play. However, if hearing them live isn’t an option, make sure you watch videos and listen to audio before signing on the dotted line.

Get it in writing

When booking ANY wedding vendors, a contract is vital. This should include details such as how long they’ll play for, contact details, costs (including any travel or accommodation expenses) etc. Make sure you’re happy with the agreement and that everyone is on the same page.

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Think outside the box

We’ve already touched on the point that music is a personal experience so make sure your wedding day sound choices reflect this. While Etta James’ At Last is a lovely first dance, if ‘Hey Ya!’ by Outkast is more your thing, go for it! Neither you or your guests are likely to forget it in a hurry. On your wedding day, your first dance is one of those unforgettable moments so you definitely won’t want to look back with regret, wishing you’d opted for a song you love rather than going with one for the sake of tradition.

Tweak it a little

There are some amazingly talented wedding bands out there (click here to view a few of our faves) and it’s amazing what they can do. If you love a particular genre of music, but you aren’t sure how it’ll go down, ask your band to ‘tweak’ it a little. For example, jazz versions of rap or dance songs work particularly well and guests love hearing a new take on an original.

The do-not-play list

While you’ll probably spend some time pondering the songs you definitely want played, give those which you don’t, some thought. Songs have the power to conjure up a whole variety of emotions so if there are any which don’t convey happy memories for you, ask your band or DJ to skip them.

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SELECTING THOSE SPECIFIC SONGS

Now that you’ve got the general idea of what you need to think about, it’s time to get down to specifics, and in particular, choosing individual songs to be played throughout your wedding day.

Pre-ceremony

Some couples choose to have music playing while guests are arriving and choosing their seats. If this sounds appealing, think about the vibe for your day and what you want to convey. In particular, give some thought on whether you want a formal or casual, lively or romantic day and choose tunes which reflect this accordingly.

The entrances

Tradition usually dictates that the same song is played for both the bridesmaids and the bride entering, however some couples choose to have two different ones. For example, the choice for the bridesmaids could reflect your friendship together, while the bride’s song could be more about the couple. Again, there are lots of classic choices here but if you’re afraid to sway from tradition, we say go for it, and choose something a little bit different.

Recessional

For that walk down the aisle as Mr and Mrs, many couples choose an upbeat song that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Hall & Oates’ ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’ or ‘All You Need Is Love’ by The Beatles easily convey that you’re married and it’s time to celebrate it!

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Cocktail hour

That in-between bit after the ceremony, before the reception starts and while the couple are having their photos taken, doesn’t necessarily call for music but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it. Depending on the vibe of your day, you could hire a harpist or pianist, or even someone playing the acoustic guitar. In failing that, some background music, played through the sound system is definitely an option too. Keep things a little more upbeat here in order to get guests excited about what is yet to come.

Reception entrance

Now the celebrations truly begin. That moment when the bridal party walk through the room and the newlywed couple are announced is the perfect time to choose an upbeat song to kick start the evening. Again, try to go for a song which is both upbeat and represents you as a couple. Select something you love, which guests will recognise and clap along to as you make your way through the room.

Dinner music

The conversation is usually in full flow at this stage but a little background music is definitely in order. Something a little more mellow and relaxing will lend itself well to the scene.

First dance

Ah the first dance… often the moment many couples fear! With all eyes on you, there’s a certain pressure to get it just right. But we say… throw the rule book out the window. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you need to choose something slow, which you’ll both awkwardly shimmy across the dance floor to (that is unless of course, that’s what you want). If you long for something lively – go for it! Make it work. If you’re a bit stumped for a song, make sure you check out our guide on alternative first dance song options here.

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Family dances

Traditionally, the father and daughter will also have a first dance together, although that’s less common these days. If you’d like this to be a part of your reception, sit down with your dad and select a song which means something to you both. Be warned, this one may cause tears!

Songs to hit the dance floor to

After the first dance, it’s time to get guests on the floor, where you’ll want them to remain for the duration of the night. A top tip is to keep the groomsmen and bridesmaids on the floor. If they remain there after the first dance, guests tend to join them. When thinking about tunes for the night, a mixture is fab. While you might both be massive Kanye West fans, that isn’t exactly going to get Aunt Margaret tapping her toes. Play a variety of hits from the 60s up to current day hits. You DJ or band should be adept at gaging what the audience are loving, and therefore tailoring their set list to give them what they want.

The last song

It’s the last song of the night so you’ll want to out with a bang. Choose something which sums up your day, your love for each other and your family and friends.

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Want more? Check out the rest of our Wedding Music Guide series…

  • Part 1: 20 Alternative First Dance Songs, click here
  • Part 2: Best wedding bands Northern Ireland, click here
  • Part 3: 20 Questions You Need To Ask Your Wedding Band, click here

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