How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Dinner Music

If you’re like me, music will be one of the most important details of your big day. For some, the classics work—and why shouldn’t they? There’s nothing like “At Last” to bring a tear to your eye, or “Shout” to get every guest on the dance floor. But for many modern brides, “unique” is the compliment they’re striving for. Music is an easy place to start. Okay, “easy” may not be the word. For the music-savvy, curating playlists is fun. For those of you who stick to the Top 100 Spotify playlist, it’s stressful. To ease you into this, I’m going to focus on the “easiest” playlist of them all: your wedding dinner music. These are the songs that will be heard during your cocktail hour and delicious meal.  Since this is when you guests will be mingling, chatting, and eating, odds are they won’t pay much attention to the melody selection. It’s essentially background noise that shouldn’t distract from socializing. However, the tunes you choose should add to the ambiance you’re looking for. Here's some of my tips on how to create the best wedding dinner playlist.

11 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Wedding Dinner Music

Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

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1. First, every great wedding playlist has 4 traits:

  1. A mix of genres
  2. A variety of tempos
  3. A combination of popular and unknown songs
  4. A “vibe” that ties them all together and creates the ambiance you desire

Folk can be mixed with pop, rock with country, etc. As long as they’ve all got the same vibe, you’re golden. Remember to think about every generation included on your guest list. What would your parents want to hear? Your Grandma? You want a mix of tempos so it doesn’t fade too far into the background. If you choose all slow songs, your guests may zone out. If you choose all upbeat, it’ll distract. There’s a reason certain tunes are at the top of the charts: People want to hear them! It’s essential to give the public what they want, but throw in a few unknown jams to spark their interest. A compilation is only a success if every song complements one another. Wedding dinner music is a perfect medium to use to incorporate the theme of your wedding day or maybe tell your love story!

2. Don’t forget live bands.

If you have room in your budget, hiring a band may be worth it. They’ll get your guests excited, keep the energy up, and who doesn’t love a good cover? Plus, searching for a local band to play at your wedding makes a great date night for you and your spouse-to-be!

3. How do you want to feel after you get married?

When choosing the “vibe” of your wedding dinner playlist, consider how you want to feel after you tie the knot. Celebratory? Romantic? Relaxed? It’s up to you! Find your feel then start choosing your songs. Spotify has tons of playlists that portray a certain "vibe." You can steal one of those playlists or pick and choose from various playlists to curate your perfect wedding dinner music set!

4. Don’t waste dance hits.

Never waste a good party song on your cocktail hour. Save those crowd-pleasers for later.

5. Make sure your DJ knows your must-hear melodies.

Prioritize! Highlight the tunes you have to hear and make sure the DJ has them in their collection. If they don’t, you may have to pay extra fees to get them. Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

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6. Create a do-not-play list.

While I love Bublé, he won’t be singing on my big day. Give your do-not-play list to your DJ and make sure they stick to it—even if the tune is requested by a guest.

7. Never skip a soundcheck.

You need to test the acoustics. You don’t want to be running over to your vendor every 5 minutes, telling them to turn the volume up or down.

8. No R-rated music.

Grandma and the kids are still going to be there…hold off on any curse words until dessert has been served.

9. Consider entire albums.

I know what I said about variety, but sometimes one album has everything you need. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Moondance by Van Morrison…there are plenty of incredible albums that can be combined for a simple, impactful playlist.

10. Be super detailed.

Don’t worry about being too Type A when planning. The more details you give your vendor, the more successful they’ll be. When my brother got married, he gave his DJ a list of 30 songs. It exemplified the variety he was looking for—the “vibe” he wanted. After studying what my brother gave him, the DJ found related artists and songs to include. He KILLED it at my brother’s wedding. Everyone was on the dance floor—grandparents included.

11. Don’t stress!

Like I said before, these tunes will be background noise. Don’t worry too much! Save that stress for your ceremony and reception music. Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

Cassie Rosch Photography

Bonus: 50 Recommended Songs for Your Wedding Dinner Music

50 songs, 3 hours, shuffle recommended. 1. “A Sunday Kind of Love”—Etta James 2. “Always Be My Baby”—Mariah Carey 3. “Arms of a Woman”—Amos Lee 4. “Can’t Help Falling in Love”—Elvis Presley 5. “Crazy in Love”—Sofia Karlberg 6. “Crazy Love”—Van Morrison 7. “Crazy Love”—Ben Harper 8. “Cross that Line”—Joshua Radin 9. “Dead Sea”—The Lumineers 10. “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop”—Landon Pigg Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

Monica Lopez Photography

11. “First Day of My Life”—Bright Eyes 12. “Forever Young”—Rhiannon Giddens and Iron & Wine 13. “God Only Knows”—The Beach Boys 14. “Higher Love”—James Vincent McMorrow 15. “Ho Hey”—Lennon & Maisy 16. “Hold You in My Arms”—Ray Lamontagne 17. “Home to Mama”—Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson 18. “How Deep is Your Love”—the bird and the bee 19. “How Long Will I Love You”—Ellie Goulding 20. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”—Branches Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

Tandem Tree Photography

21. “I Belong to You”—Brandi Carlile 22. “I Choose You”—Sara Bareilles 23. “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”—Jasmine Thompson 24. “In Your Hands”—Joshua Radin 25. “Into the Mystic”—Van Morrison 26. “Is This Love”—Corinne Bailey Rae 27. “Let it Be Me”—Ray Lamontagne 28. “Let’s Stay Together”—Obadiah Parker 29. “Like Real People Do”—Hozier 30. “Lucky”—Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

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31. “Marry You”—Donald Glover 32. “Marvin Gaye”—Charlie Pluth and Meghan Trainor 33. “Moon River”—Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars 34. “My Cherie Amour”—Stevie Wonder 35. “Naked as We Came”—Iron & Wine 36. “Not a Bad Thing”—Justin Timberlake 37. “Photograph”—Ed Sheeran 38. “Shelter From the Storm”—Bob Dylan 39. “Skinny Love”—Bon Iver 40. “Something in The Way She Moves”—James Taylor Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

Sophia Mayrhofer Photography

41. “The Way You Look Tonight”—Tony Bennett 42. “Thinking Out Loud”—Ed Sheeran 43. “When a Man Loves a Woman”—Percy Sledge 44. “When I Fall in Love”—Nat King Cole 45. “XO”—John Mayer 46. “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”—Stevie Wonder 47. “You Can’t Hurry Love”—Phil Collins 48. “You Were Meant for Me”—Jewel 49. “You’re My Best Friend”—The Once 50. “Your Body is a Wonderland”—John Mayer Wedding Music | The Wedding Shoppe Inc.

Tandem Tree Photography

What would Bublé think?

I know, Michael Bublé really is the best. I listen to him a lot! But if you want to receive the compliment of all compliments–your wedding was SO UNIQUE–then you need to save that modern crooner for later. Did I miss your favorite tune? Do you have more advice for your fellow brides and grooms? Join the conversation in a comment below!

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Leave a comment

Heather
June 18, 2020 13:04

Love the music links!! Such great tips too

Kelsi N
June 14, 2020 08:47

This is awesome. We aren’t hiring a DJ at all because we are trying to cut costs and our venue has a PA system, so we will be making playlists for the entire night! This list is definitely going to help.

Kelsey
April 03, 2020 13:57

I didn’t even think about the vibe as guidance for music, but that is so helpful! I can’t wait to start my song list!

Alisha Dan
March 29, 2020 09:17

This is such a good list! When I first contacted my DJ, he asked what music I did and did not want and how much customization I wanted as it pertains to the list I gave him. I am truly the Type A, unnecessarily picky type and he LOVED it. I haven’t had my wedding yet, but I have faith that he knows exactly what I want.

Alyssa Clark
May 17, 2019 13:12

Wow, great tips. I was just going through songs this weekend that I wanted at our wedding. My fiancé and I both really love music so we have too many songs to choose from already. :). He likes rock and I like country so luckily we will have some good variety.

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