Planning Your Wedding Reception Music

There are a lot of elements that make a wedding day the best it can be, and the music is up there with one of the most important. Music has the power to make or break a wedding, so getting it right should be at the top of your priority list.  Whether you’re planning on hiring a DJ or a LIVE BAND for your wedding, there are certain songs that are guaranteed to set the scene. If you’re looking for some musical inspiration, we have some ideas for your playlist.

DJ vs Live Band

One of the first decisions that should be made regarding music is whether you will have a DJ or a live band at your wedding. Both have advantages and disadvantages, see below:



  • Versatility – DJs often have access to an enormous catalogue of songs, meaning that you and your guests can request whatever songs and whatever genres you like.
  • Cheaper option – DJs are less expensive than a live band, due to the nature of the act consisting of a single individual and their equipment, as opposed to multiple individuals and their talent.


  • Less intimate – Hiring a DJ could mean that your reception is a less intimate affair. If you are having a large wedding or a destination wedding, you may prefer a live band over a DJ.
  • Less interactive as a band.  Bands can have singers/musicians jump into the audience and interact

Live band


  • Intimate and special – a live band creates an intimacy that many people like at their wedding. Especially if the band is a 5-15 pieces or a string quartet, there is a special and very real quality.
  • Exciting – there’s nothing quite as exciting and infectious as live music.
  • Choice and Versatility – don’t assume that a professional live band doesn’t have a large repertoire of wedding songs available. Most top quality bands can recreate all types of songs, from contemporary pop songs to iconic numbers.


  • Costly option – hiring a live band for your wedding day is generally more costly than booking a DJ, purely because a band will consist of multiple (talented) people who must transport instruments and equipment to your location.
  • Bands can not recreate EDM or heavy electronic music as DJ can.

Choosing between a live band and a DJ ultimately comes down to your taste, preference, wedding theme and style and guest demographic. If money were no object, or if you have a large budget for your wedding music, the ideal scenario would be to have both a DJ and a live band – a live band for the first half of the wedding reception, and a DJ to create the end-of-night party atmosphere.

Choosing the right music

If you’re having a hard time creating your wedding reception playlist, we have some stellar suggestions, from the First Dance song to the songs played late into the night.

First Dance

The first dance is one of the most special moments of the whole occasion. It is when the bride and groom can come together and enjoy an intimate moment, surrounded by and celebrated by their loved ones.  A couple’s First Dance song is often one that holds a special meaning and has memories attached. Here are some of the most popular romantic songs:

  • “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – Aerosmith
  • “Iris” – The Goo Goo Dolls
  • “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran
  • “At Last” – Etta James
  • “Your Song” – Elton John
  • “All Of Me” – John Legend
  • “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Elvis Presley
  • “Marry You” – Bruno Mars
  • “I Will Wait” – Mumford & Sons
  • “Moon River” – Frank Sinatra
  • “Chasing Cars” – Snow Patrol
  • “Make You Feel My Love” – Adele
  • “You Are The Best Thing” – Ray LaMontagne
  • “Better Together” – Jack Johnson

Popular wedding reception songs

Your wedding reception should be the most fun and lively part of the whole day, which is why music is so important. Your wedding playlist should include a mixture of different styles and genres to please guests of all ages. Of course, the majority of them should be love related, well-known, and should be good for a singalong. For inspiration, see the list below:

Modern/contemporary songs

  • “Love On Top” – Beyoncé
  • “Mr Brightside” – The Killers
  • “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd
  • “Lose Yourself To Dance” – Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams
  • “How Deep Is Your Love” – Calvin Harris, Disciples
  • “Work” – Rihanna, Drake
  • “OMG” – Usher
  • “Shut Up And Dance” – WALK THE MOON
  • “Feel The Love” – Rudimental, John Newman
  • “What Makes You Beautiful” – One Direction
  • “Gold Digger” – Kanye West, Jamie Foxx
  • “Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepson
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers
  • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars
  • “Single Ladies” – Beyoncé
  • “Hey, Ya!” – OutKast
  • “…Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears
  • “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke, T.I. Pharrell Williams
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira, Wyclef Jean
  • “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” – The Darkness
  • “Crazy In Love” – Beyoncé
  • “King” – Years and Years

Older, iconic songs

Every good wedding party should feature iconic numbers. You know, the songs that are so well-known, and maybe a little dated, but are almost expected at a wedding. Check the list below:

  • “Summer Nights” – Grease
  • “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – Whitney Houston
  • “Africa” – Toto
  • “Dancing Queen” – ABBA
  • “Don’t Stop Believing” – Journey
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
  • “My Sharona” – The Knack
  • “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” – Dead Or Alive
  • “Kiss” – Prince
  • “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees
  • “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley
  • “Hot Stuff” – Donna Summer”
  • “ABC” – The Jackson 5
  • “Respect” – Aretha Franklin
  • “You Can Call Me Al” – Paul Simon
  • “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
  • “Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club
  • “Le Freak” – Chic
  • “One Step Beyond” – Madness
  • “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi
  • “Take On Me” – a-ha
  • “All Night Long (All Night)” – Lionel Richie
  • “Get It On” – Marvin Gaye

Climactic moments

Your aim should be to get your guests up and out of their seats and onto the dance floor. To do this, you should curate a wedding playlist that has two big peaks throughout the night.  The key is to build up to a big iconic number where the dance floor is full and everyone is belting the lyrics. Then, follow that with some slower, less intense numbers to give your guests a chance to refuel, recharge, and grab a drink/bite to eat, before starting the party all over again.


Don’t underestimate the importance of music when you’re planning your wedding – the right playlist can keep the party going into the small hours, and your guests will remember your special day for years to come.


Undercover Live | Lake Tahoe Wedding Entertainment
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