Nowadays, everyone seems to get a crash course in curating playlists (thanks, Spotify and Pandora!). But planning a wedding reception set list is more involved—and trickier—than you might think. At RiverCrest, we help make the process easier for you. Here, a shortlist of things to consider when planning your reception music and talking with your band or DJ, so that everyone can have a turn on the dance floor.
The Energy Level
While you might be tempted to ask your DJ or band to churn out three hours of high-energy, chart-topping hits, it’s a better bet to instead aim for a natural rise and fall of energy throughout the night. Slower, mellower songs give people a break to hit the bathrooms or bar, or revisit their table. (In general, you want to aim for about one slow song per every five fast songs.)
The Line Dance
Ah, the most divisive type of wedding music. Decide whether or not you want any line/group dances and let your DJ or band know. And be specific! For example, maybe you’re fine with ‘Cupid Shuffle,’ but not with the ‘Macarena.’
The Era Mix
Try to appeal to the age range of your wedding guests. You don’t want to bore the younger crowd with too many slow, traditional wedding reception songs or alienate older guests by playing too many super-modern, bass-thumping dance tracks. Play a few classics so older guests (like your grandparents!) are comfortable taking a spin on the floor, and pepper in some current hits that will get the younger crowd on their feet.
The Types of Songs
An ideal, well-rounded music set list has most of the following: slow songs (the classics like ‘At Last,’ ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, and/or modern hits like Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’); upbeat dance tracks (here is where you can incorporate current pop/rap songs that will get people out dancing, although it’s best to steer clear from songs with explicit lyrics or dicey meanings); a few old-school wedding classics (like ‘The Twist’, ‘Billie Jean,’ ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered … I’m Yours’) and some modern classics (such as ‘Hey Ya,’ ‘Uptown Funk,’ ‘Single Ladies’).
Figure out whether you want your band or DJ to honor guest requests, and make that clear to them. Pros: You might get suggestions of great songs that will make your particular crowd happy. Cons: You—and your great-great-grandmother—might suddenly hear Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’ song blasting through the speakers.
The Must-Play (and Must-Not Play) Lists
Think of what songs and artists you and your partner love to listen and dance to, and let the pros devise a well-rounded list based off of these suggestions. On the flipside, also give a list of specific songs and artists you want to avoid. But try not to control the list too much; a terrific band or DJ should be able to judge the mood and energy level of the room and adjust the set list accordingly.