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What music you need for your big day

Categories Podcast. Wedding tips. Weddings.
14 Jan, 2023

You may not realise how many parts of your wedding actually require carefully curated music. It’s not just about the dance floor! As soon as guests arrive for your ceremony, the atmosphere is being set for the rest of the day. 

In this blog we cover all of the music needed to create your wedding soundtrack, with some hot insider tips and example tunes. 

PS – it goes without saying (and we’re completely biased), but having a DJ instead of just a playlist means you’ll have music expertly tailored for each part of your big day. If you’d rather leave all the music to an expert, consider booking a DJ for the whole day, from setting the pre-ceremony vibe through to the final song at your reception!

Listen to us discuss this topic on our podcast!

Prefer to listen rather than read? We cover this very topic on S3, Ep7 of our wedding planning podcast, Project Engaged. Listen below!


Couples sometimes forget music for this part of their wedding – whoops! What results is guests awkwardly standing around in silence for 30 – 45 minutes waiting for the formalities to kick off. Not ideal!

You’ll want to start off gentle for this one. We recommend some original acoustic covers or slower tempo tunes from your favourite genres/artists (read our blog What music do I need for my wedding ceremony for some song ideas). This is the least upbeat part of the day in terms of music – you want to ease people in, but still have the music reflect your style as a couple.

If you don’t have a DJ for this part of your day, make sure your celebrant’s speaker has the ability to plug in an iPod or iPhone and someone has responsibility for pressing play!


Your celebrant and/or DJ will let you know what tunes you need, depending on the structure of your ceremony but usually these are processional/aisle song, certificate signing songs (we recommend two or three just in case) and recessional/end of ceremony song.

Your song selections for your ceremony are really personal but ask your DJ if you want some advice. We recommend a happy, upbeat tune at the end of your ceremony – this is a huge, celebratory moment!


It’s party time! You may be off getting photos, but your guests are ready for a drink! Tunes for post-ceremony cocktail hour can be relatively upbeat (not bangers, obviously). Depending on the setting, you can have some fun with tropical vibes, upbeat jazz music, Motown wedding classics or some chill-out electronic tunes. Again, put your stamp on this part of the day and use it to set the scene for the night to come.

Background/ dinner

Whether you’re having a cocktail or a sit-down reception, the first hour and a bit should have relatively chilled music. We generally steer away from ballads altogether (it’s a wedding, not a funeral!) but as guests will want to chat and catch up, we keep the music for this first part of the reception at a volume and tempo that’s appropriate for mingling!

Wedding party entrances

We always tell clients to choose something high energy for this killer moment. It makes for amazing photos. You can either choose one song for your whole wedding party, with your DJ playing the most energetic bit for your entrance OR a different song for each couple.

Check out our blog Arrive in style with these wedding party entrance songs for some inspiration.

Cake cutting

Don’t forget this bit of the reception (if you have a cake)! Ask your DJ to pick a song if you’re not sure. Or if your cake cutting is right before your first dance and your first dance song has a long introduction, you could start the track as you do the cake cutting and then make your way to the dance floor for your dance!

“Build the dance floor”

Everyone is a few beverages down and the dance floor is approaching so let’s turn it up a bit! In between speeches and first dance/dance floor, our DJs will up the tempo and energy to get people ready for dancing. The goal is to get guests toe-tapping and singing in preparation for the dance floor.

Read our blog Get guests ready to boogie with these songs for some ideas.

First dance

Not everyone opts for a first dance, but if you are doing one, and the thought of everyone starting at you dancing for 3 minutes makes you feel physically sick, fear not. We have some tips to nail your first dance in our blog Song tips: The first dance.

Choosing a song can be tricky. Check out our playlists with first dance song ideas from real weddings we’ve played:

Dance floor!

Yass – it’s time! You can choose for guests to join you during your first dance if you’re having one. Either way, get your MC to announce the dance floor is officially open!

We definitely recommend a fun, upbeat tune that everyone will recognise to kick things off. You’ll want young and old on there for the first few tunes so classics are always winners.

A great DJ will read the crowd, keep the tunes varied, expertly field requests and stay within your music brief, all while working to keep the dance floor full for most of the night! (Read more about how we do this in our blog How our DJs pick tunes).

Final song(s)

Towards the end of your reception, people will be hopefully be super loose and ready for a sing-along! Keeping this in mind, we recommend your final song is one that ends your wedding on a high note and that your guests can sing to. Check out some ideas in our blog End your reception on a high note with these songs.

Is your venue strict on timings? If you need to absolutely be finished by your reception end time but you want to squeeze in room for “one more song”, consider staging a “fake finish”! This is where your DJ will play the “final” song 10 minutes before the end and still have time under their sleeve for another tune when your guests want one more!

Want to leave all of this to an experienced wedding DJ? Get in touch with us via our Book a DJ page!

Photo credit: Dan Brannan.

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