While the venue, the dress, and the bride and groom themselves - not to mention the engagement ring - are crucial parts of the wedding planning equation, so is the playlist. Studies show that music helps synchronize bodies and brains - so the right wedding music can help your guests feel joy and get them grooving.
Selecting the perfect playlist goes beyond the dance floor, though. You may also choose a song for the bride to enter to, music for the cocktail hour, and other parts of your big day. Here's how to choose a memorable playlist to elevate your wedding day.
Do You Need Music at a Wedding?
Depending on your venue's size, the type of ceremony you'll have, and various other factors, you might wonder whether music is necessary. But if you ask any wedding planning professional, they'll likely say that music is an essential part of the wedding day experience.
Benefits of Music at Your Wedding
Playing music at your wedding has countless benefits - including the synchronization of hearts and bodies. But there's more to consider when cranking up the tunes, which is why most couples factor a playlist into their wedding day preparation.
Music Can Complement Your Theme
Your wedding music can help round out an intricately planned theme. If your nuptials are rustic western, the right music can set the stage for your guests. Similarly, a more regal wedding setting and style scheme may call for fewer guitars and more violins.
Think about the type of music that will mesh with your theme. The same way you took care while choosing from engagement rings, selecting the right sound is also essential. Music can be a helpful way to tie all the other elements - décor, flowers, the menu - together.
The Right Tunes Represent Your Relationship
While your wedding day may also be a great party, it's also a meaningful experience for you and your partner. When you're not exchanging wedding rings and reading vows, you'll spend time together and share your love with your family and friends. Choosing music that you love helps imbue personality into the proceedings.
Many couples choose songs that are meaningful to them in different ways. You may have a particular song that played when you shared your first kiss. Maybe a different tune represents a specific period of your relationship.
Whatever meaning is behind the lyrics, sharing that with your wedding guests is meaningful and personal.
Your Wedding Playlist Can Show Personality
Adding a variety of songs that represent your interests brings personality to your event. After all, not every song on your playlist must be a tear-inducing one.
Queue up your favorite songs for different aspects of the ceremony - or just for the dancing afterward - to showcase you and your spouse's personalities and passions.
Music Changes Moods
Most weddings feature several parts. A cocktail hour may occur before or after the ceremony. The bride's entry and walk down the aisle may involve memorable songs. Or, a transitional song may signal the beginning of the dancing - and dining - post-ceremony.
Music can serve as a cue for mood changes and transitions from one part of the wedding to another. From somber during tearful vows to celebratory on the dance floor, the right music sets the tone for each element of the nuptials.
A soundtrack can even affect your guests' perception of time - a subtle solution when you need to stall for time before the caterer arrives.
Drawbacks of Playing Music During a Wedding
Are there any downsides to playing music at your wedding? In most cases, turning up the volume will only have a positive impact on your special day. However, ensuring that each song plays at the appropriate time is crucial to your enjoyment of both the soundtrack and your wedding day overall.
For that reason, hiring a DJ or designating a family member or friend as your music specialist is a smart step. If you choose a professional DJ, they may also help curate songs to suit your event.
Putting a loved one in charge of the playlist may be a more affordable option. But you will need to outline the scheduling of each song to match event timelines. Designating a DJ will help you focus on enjoying your wedding day, rather than fretting over hitting play or pause at the right moment.
How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Music
You know that music is vital for your wedding, but how can you choose the best playlist possible? These tips can help you navigate building your wedding day music library.
Brainstorm Favorite Songs with Your Fiancé
Because your wedding day revolves around the two of you, choosing songs together is essential. Even if your partner has no preference on the type of music you choose or when it plays, asking about their favorite songs is an excellent first step.
If your tastes contrast too much to make a cohesive playlist mesh, consider playing more offbeat songs as the event winds down. Exit music could be a great cap to your wonderful wedding memories.
Bond with Your Wedding Party Over Tunes
You may be saving the date for bachelor and bachelorette parties for your wedding crew. But consider adding another event to the itinerary: A playlist development session. Your wedding party may have great taste in music, and even eclectic tastes can help you round out a playlist.
Hosting a playlist-building event is also the perfect excuse to spend more time with your wedding party before the big day.
Think About Your Guests
Though you may not want your guests to enjoy complete control over the wedding music, their input can be valuable. Many couples choose to include a request space on their wedding RSVP cards, which could be an excellent way to solicit song suggestions.
Especially if you know that your audience will range widely in age, interests, and other demographics, a somewhat neutral playlist may be ideal. Avoiding offense is one reason to consider your guests, of course. But maintaining a festive and celebratory mood is another reason to be cautious with your tunes.
Prioritize Songs for Key Moments
Most weddings follow a general itinerary that includes the ceremony, the reception, dining, and dancing. While your nuptials don't need to follow a specific formula, you should sketch out a timeline for the event - and start fitting in the appropriate music.
Choosing songs for critical moments in the wedding proceedings can help you shape the rest of the playlist. For example, you may want a particular track to play while the bride walks down the aisle. Many couples also choose an entry song for their debut as husband and wife.
Starting your playlist by choosing songs for these crucial moments can make it easier to shape the rest of your wedding soundtrack.
Know Your Itinerary
Because you'll want to choose songs for crucial moments, you need to know approximately how long your ceremony will last, what order the events will happen, and other details. For example, many bride and groom pairs will choose a prelude song for their ceremony, a processional track, and also a recessional song.
Decide whether you want to continue playing background music during the ceremony, or if someone needs to press play when you're about to leave the altar. Knowing the timing and order of the events is essential when it comes to orchestrating your wedding soundtrack.
Maintain Some Balance in the Beats
You might have a long list of songs that perfectly complement the emotions you feel about marrying the love of your life. But not every song on your playlist should bring tears to your (and your guests') eyes.
Keeping a balance in your wedding music will help keep your guests from wearing down too quickly. It will also ensure that everyone stays dancing - and partying - until the event ends. Aim for a ratio of one slow song to every four or five dance-able favorites for best results.
Look to Classics as a Starting Point
Many couples struggle to come up with wedding songs that are fitting for their event. Whether music isn't your forte or you want to keep with more traditional wedding tunes, looking to the classes can help you get started.
Tunes like "At Last" by Etta James, "Marry Me" by Train, "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder, and "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis always make wedding hit lists. For wedding processionals, you can also choose music without vocals, if you prefer.
Find Inspiration Among Current Hits
While the classics are an excellent starting point, modern music also affords betrothed couples many memorable wedding songs. Whether you want a traditional love song for your wedding or a quirky choice that makes your heart soar, you can find inspiration among current hits.
For example, Spotify regularly lists their top wedding songs, based on consumer playlists. For 2020, the top first dance wedding songs, according to Spotify, included:
- "Stuck with U (with Justin Bieber)" - Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber
- "you!" - LANY
- "Love Again" - Dua Lipa
- "Cool" - Dua Lipa
- "Happiest Year" - Jaymes Young
- "Conversations in the Dark" - John Legend
- "Forever (feat. Post Malone & Clever)" - Justin Bieber, Post Malone, Clever
- "Souvenir" - Selena Gomez
- "Midnight (feat. Liam Payne)" - Alesso, Liam Payne
- "Always You" - Louis Tomlinson
Preview Your Playlist Before the Big Day
You might be curating tracks for every wedding day element, but it's worth previewing the playlist ahead of time. Listening to your songs in order will help you spot any awkward transitions or music-less gaps - some tracks may cut out abruptly while others fade and create unwanted lag.
Scoping out these issues ahead of time means you can rearrange your wedding playlist to make sure it's playable, danceable, and not stressful on the day you get married.
Find Your Music with New Music Tools
If you plan to outline your wedding ceremony music on your own, you need a plan for finding - and purchasing - your songs. Many music services offer free subscriptions these days, such as Pandora, but to play specific songs in a set order, you need more functionality.
Common music apps and services include options like:
- Amazon Music
- Apple Music
Subscribing with many of these services allows you to create streaming playlists. But if you can't find a specific song (or a version of a song) that you want, you might need to buy the MP3 file before creating your playlist.
Use an App or Tool to Curate Your Music
You may already be committed to Spotify or have tons of playlists on Amazon Music or iTunes. But using a specialized app can help you get the timing right on your wedding playlist.
For example, an app like Jukestar curates your music from Spotify Premium but also allows guests to enter requests and rate songs during the event.
Your options will vary based on the device you have - for example, Android versus iPhone - and whether you choose a free app or a paid service. Of course, an alternative is to hire a professional DJ to manage everything.
Perform a Trial Run with Your Equipment
When you're skipping a DJ for your event, testing your equipment beforehand is vital. Many modern couples choose to use apps, smartphones, and Bluetooth speakers to orchestrate their wedding music.
To help reduce the odds of dead batteries or missed connections on your wedding day, run your playlist while using the same (or similar) setup you have in mind for your venue. Be sure to pack chargers and any necessary (or backup) cables for your speakers, smartphone, laptop, tablet, and any other equipment you'll need.
Final Thoughts on Choosing Wedding Music
While the highlight of your wedding day is exchanging wedding bands, many other factors influence the tone, mood, and overall experience - both for you and your guests. For that reason, music is an integral part of making your wedding experience memorable and enjoyable.
The good news is that technology makes it simple to curate and broadcast your perfect wedding playlist. No matter where your wedding will take place - or what's on the itinerary - you can organize the ideal playlist that suits you and your betrothed's tastes.