Picking songs for your wedding is a big decision. My main piece of advice is to incorporate your tastes and favorite songs into the key songs of the evening, but allow for concessions in the reception playlist.
I listen to a lot of non-mainstream music, so when it came to selecting songs, I had no idea what direction to go. I wanted our main wedding songs to represent who we are as both individuals and a as couple.
If I had had it fully my way, we would have played a lot of down-tempo, yet upbeat electronic music for the reception. Most of our guests were older, so that music didn’t resonate with them. We let our DJ do what he does best, and even though I didn’t want party classics played, such as the YMCA, it is ultimately what got our guests out on the dance floor.
Key Wedding Songs You Will Choose
The songs you will usually let your DJ or band know in advance are the following:
- Processional song
- Walking-down-the aisle song
- Recessional song
- Grand entrance songs (Could do one song for wedding party, and a different song for couple)
- First dance for the couple
- Parent/significant person dance songs (i.e. father/bride, groom/mother dances)
- Bouquet toss
- Garter toss
- Cake cutting
- Anniversary dance (All married couples go out on the dance floor, and then the emcee excuses them by length of marriage until the couple who has been married the longest is left alone on the dance floor. We did this, and it was one of the highlights of the whole evening!)
- Last song
- Send-off song
Your DJ or musicians will also want to know the playlist or vibes you will want for the time period when guests are arriving to the ceremony, for cocktail hour, and for dinnertime. They also may ask for, or don’t be afraid to provide them with, a “do not play” list.
The Soundtrack to My Wedding
The songs we chose for our key songs are fairly non-traditional tunes, and I am so happy we went this route.
Nothing is Something Worth Doing (Live Version) by Shpongle
Hang drums are one of my favorite instruments, and I am obsessed with this song. I have listened to Shpongle for years, and this was hands-down the easiest decision I made throughout our whole wedding planning process.
Our DJ edited the crowd noise out, and we made some adjustments for the timing to work.
- 00:20 to 2:20 were used for the processional
- 2:20 was when I made my grand entrance
- 3:00 on was used for the recessional and as guests exited the ceremony for cocktail hour
Grand Entrance Song
Hanging on by Active Child
I love the chanty, cinematic nature of this song. We started this song at the beginning, had our officiant, maid of honor, and best woman walk out, and then we followed behind for our grand entrance.
The lyrics might not be the most romantic, but the whole vibe of the song creates a cool atmosphere.
Lovely Day, Alt-J Version
I love the Bill Withers version of this song, but I found the Alt-J version to be perfect, slow, and romantic for our first dance. We both love Alt-J.
Sweet Child O’Mine, Taken by Trees Version
I asked my dad to choose the song for our father/daughter dance, and I think he made a great choice in choosing the version of this song. This version has a sweet and whimsical vibe to it, and will forever be a song I cherish from this moment.
Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes
My husband chose this song for his mother/son dance. He loves this band, and this song’s vibe. He also did not want a sappy song to play during an already emotional moment. It turned out to be a beautiful and appropriate choice for them.
Sweet Inspiration, Derek Trucks Band Version
My husband introduced me to the Derek Trucks Band in the early days of our relationship, and we have since seen the Tedeschi Trucks Band multiple times. We knew we wanted to incorporate some of their songs into our wedding playlist, and this song was the perfect fit for the cake-cutting song. I also think it would make a great grand entrance song because it is energetic, fun, and positive.
Sun Don’t Shine (Sonnentaz) by Klangkarussell
This song was the perfect song for our bubble send-off. It bridged the formal reception, kicking off the vibes for our after party. It is upbeat and romantic, and captured the essence of the evening just as I had hoped.
Choosing wedding songs is a fun, intimate experience for you and your significant other. If you get stuck, think about songs that you have specific, positive memories tied to, or concerts you have seen together.
Have fun building your playlist, and remember, it is about you and your significant other first and foremost!
What Are Your Favorite Non-Traditional Wedding Tunes?
Let me know some of your other favorite non-traditional wedding tunes you used in your wedding, or you loved hearing at someone else’s.