Choosing Your Wedding Music / Part II: The Reception

Last week, covered choosing wedding music for one very important part of the Big Day– the wedding ceremony. But hey, your wedding reception is a celebration of your new marriage too! It’s a time to let loose, have fun, and enjoy all the hard work you’ve done for your wedding. A big part of planning the reception is picking music. A good reception song will have everyone on the dance floor singing at the top of their lungs.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user ultimatewhit

But it can be overwhelming trying to choose music for your reception — you want everything to be just perfect. And you want to make sure the day is enjoyable for all your guests — everyone from your 90-year-old grandma to your college friends. That’s why one bride-to-be, Sarah, shared some of her music choices with us– just follow these guidelines as you choose all your reception music.

Grand Entrance Song — Kick start your reception with a fun song! Typically, the DJ introduces the bridal party to your guests during the grand entrance song. Some couples like to do this in a unique way by letting their bridal party pick out their own songs and creating a music montage for the introductions. Popular choices include I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas and and Forever by Chris Brown.

Dinner Music — I don’t know how many weddings I’ve been to with dinner music that is too loud! During dinner, family and friends will use this opportunity to catch up and have a reunion of sorts. Let your guests talk by not turning the music up too loud. Instrumental music is a good choice, as is crooner music (Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble), Big Band (Glen Miller), Jazz (Chris Botti, Kenny G), and some easy listening (Norah Jones, Jack Johnson).

First Dance Song — This is another special moment a bride dreams about. If the two of you have “a song,” consider using this special tune for your first dance. Some classic choices are At Last by Etta James, It had to be You by Harry Connick Jr., Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton, and Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers.

Father Daughter and Mother Son Dance Songs — This is another moment a girl dreams of — but remember, this is your dad’s moment, too! Why not let him pick some options for this dance? And guys, your mom will cherish this moment more than you probably realize, so let her choose this one. Classic choices are Time of Your Life by Paul Anka, Through the Years by Kenny Rogers, and What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

Wedding Party Dance Song — Many couples are choosing to skip this dance, but if you decide to include it, there are a couple options. You could go the slow-dance route and use a song such as I’ll be There by Jackson 5. This could be a potentially awkward moment for some members of your bridal party who are in relationships or don’t know each other well. An upbeat song like Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks could get everyone singing and dancing as a group.

Dancing Music — Choose a good variety of dancing music that will please all your guests. The younger crowd will probably get down to hip hop and R&B, while older generations will like oldies, rock, disco, or retro tunes. And don’t forget line dances! Some couples elect to not include these, but a good line dance will get even those with two left feet dancing! Favorites include Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha Slide, YMCA, Macarena, Chicken Dance, Hokey Pokey, and Conga Line. Perhaps a little cheesy, but always fun.

Cake Cutting Song — For the cake cutting song, do you want a romantic song? A serious song? A fun-loving song? Your personality as a couple should determine what you listen to while cutting the cake and feeding it to each other/smashing it in each other’s faces. I like When I’m 64 by the Beatles and How Sweet it Is by James Taylor. If cake smashing is more your style, consider Hit Me with Your Best Shot by Pat Benater.

Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss Songs — Always a fun wedding moment, the bouquet and garter toss pass a superstitious torch to the singles who are to be married next. Usually, guys flee from catching the garter, while girls fight to catch the bouquet! Pick fun songs to keep the momentum at your reception going! Ladies, consider using It’s Raining Men by Weather Girls, Wishin’ & Hopin’ by Ani Defranco, or Man, I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain. For the guys, popular songs are Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood, Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins, and I’m too Sexy by Right Said Fred.

Last Dance Song — Don’t forget to plan your wedding down to the last minute. A lot of receptions fizzle out at the end because there’s no definite endpoint. Choosing a last dance song means there’s a great ending to your perfect day. Some couples decide on a slow or fast song and request everyone at the reception join them on the dance floor (think Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton or Last Dance by Donna Summer). One wedding I went to ended in a lovely and unique way: Everyone surrounded the bride and groom on the dance floor while they danced to their first dance song once again — they ended the evening just like it began!

Wedding planning is a lot of time and work, but choosing wedding music is a fun task you and your spouse-to-be can enjoy together. Why not make a night of it? Plug in your iPod, grab a couple drinks, and have fun!

Author bio: Sarah Beckman is a bride-to-be who is getting married October 1, 2011. When she’s not busy wedding planning, she’s busy working at Reading Glasses Shopper, where she writes about getting celebrity looks for less.

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