How to Plan Your Wedding Playlist


Want to DJ your own wedding with an iPod, tablet or laptop? Great! It’s easier than ever to DIY your wedding music, and you’ll save $1,000 or more by skipping the band or pro DJ. We’re here to help you plot out the perfect wedding playlist — from pre-ceremony music to the last dance of the night. Read on to discover how to pick your songs, how many to choose and the must-have app that will make DIY DJing a cinch.

1. Consider your wedding date, time and style.

Think about the time of day you’re getting married, the season and the theme or aesthetic of your wedding. Guests at a brunch wedding might not dance much so it’s safe to choose more low-key tunes, but you’ll probably want a vibrant dance floor at an evening or late-night soiree. Think about your guests, too — will most of them dance? Or do they prefer to sit and chat causally over drinks? If you’re having a holiday wedding, do you want to play any Christmas carols or other wintry songs? You can also use your wedding style as a guide: Jazz standards and brass-band tunes are great at a vintage wedding, while a country pair can happily bring out the line-dance jams.

2. Different vibes for different moments.

From start to finish, there are different emotions you want to elicit from your guests and music will help you achieve that. Get people excited pre-ceremony with songs that are upbeat, but not too high-energy (think: any happy-go-lucky Beatles song), choose processional, recessional, first dance and other one-off songs that suit your relationship and personalities, then fill out your cocktail hour and dinner service with songs you can talk over — friendly, but not overwhelming — and then… it’s time for your dance party! (More advice on that below).


3. Pick songs people know.

If you want a lively dance floor, you’ll need to choose a selection of songs that many people will know. Look across a variety of eras and genres — from hip hop to funk to Motown to 80s pop and beyond — and select songs your guests will sing along to, have memories of, or bust a move to on the dance floor. Save the raunchier jams for the end of the night when your older relatives have gone home, and add lots of big-band tunes, 50s and 60s classics and hits that will make your mom say, “I love this song!” earlier in the night.

4. Ask for suggestions before the wedding.

The one thing you do not want on your wedding day is to be taking requests from guests. To avoid this time-suck, include a card with your invitations — or a note on your website — asking guests to suggest a song for your playlist.

5. Don’t forget the slow songs!

For the first hour or two of the reception, include a slower tune every 4-5 songs. Your guests will appreciate the break and all of the couples in the room can take to the dance floor. Ask your parents and grandparents about “their” songs and include them on your playlist for a sweet personal touch.


6. Consider the flow of your playlist.

You’re going to need about 3-4 hours worth of music for your reception, but you’ll want to change up the energy of the party throughout the night. Build it up, take it down, build it way up, take it down again and then whip people into a frenzy at the end of the night. Make sure you finish with a fun, energetic song that gets all of your remaining guests on the dance floor.

7. Let technology help you.

We love the WeddingDJ app for DIY DJs. It helps you sort your playlist into parts (i.e. pre-ceremony, processional etc.) and allows you to pause the playlist when an event is set to take place. If you’d prefer just to use iTunes, investigate its special features and use them to your advantage: you can alter the start and stop times of songs (to cut out any non-musical chatter) and use crossfade for seamless song-to-song transitions.

Remember that you’ll need: a good sound system that can play your dance-party music loud enough that people feel free to let go; a boisterous friend to get people on the dance floor; and a strict do-not-touch-the-iPod policy (and someone to enforce it!) Note that you can always skip songs or shuffle through your playlist during your wedding if the energy seems to be lagging.

Photo one from this real wedding by Brushfire Photography / Photo two from this real wedding by MCR WEDDINGS / Photo three from this real wedding by Sherrell Photography

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