Music For Your Wedding Reception

By 8th August 2015Articles

Being a wedding entertainer I see first hand on a weekly basis how much impact the music has on the success of a wedding reception. The following article will help you plan out the perfect mix of music for your Chicago wedding reception.

First and foremost, the music for your wedding is the soundtrack to one of the most important days of your life! You should put some thought into it. The music should be memorable and reflect your personal taste and style while at the same time creating an enjoyable atmosphere for you and all of your guests.

Even though your wedding day is probably still months away you should start making up your request list now.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for selecting music for your wedding reception:


  • Have a frank discussion with your potential entertainer about the music. They should listen to your input; it is your wedding. You should listen to their input; they do this for a living.
  • Keep a pad of paper handy at your desk and in the car and jot down song ideas when they pop into your head. They will be gone by the time you get home if you don’t write them down right away.
  • Play songs that you would like to hear but that aren’t great dancing songs during cocktail hour or dinner.
  • Try to remember songs that were meaningful to you and your family and friends. List songs that you use to sing along to with everyone when going out for the night or hold special memories for you and your fiancee. Dedicate these songs to your friends and family at the reception!
  • Make sure the entertainer is aware of the significance of your dedications and the appropriate people are present when the song is played.
  • Keep the number of requests at a reasonable amount! For an average wedding reception you will be lucky to get 3 hours of full dancing time. This is about 45 songs in total or 15 per hour. If you have a talented DJ or band they will be able to mix the songs together so they flow seamlessly from one to the other and instead of playing the full version you will hear maybe half or three fourths of the song before it blends into the next one. This will allow more songs to be played throughout the evening. At MDM Entertainment we structure our music request system in a way that allows the bride and groom to have their favorites played while still allowing the entertainer some flexibility in programming and for guest requests, if that is okay with you. Contact us for more information on how we handle wedding music request lists.
  • Pick songs that you like from different genres of music that will appeal to the different age ranges of your guests. You should want everyone to dance and have a great time at your wedding.
  • Play to the older guests early. A good rule of music programming is to play more for the older guests at the beginning then progress into the newer styles later on in the evening. Everyone likes the older styles of music (Sinatra, Big Band, 50’s and 60’s, Motown, etc) to some extent. If you get the older guests dancing and having a good time they will be much more likely to stay the whole evening and by the end of the night they will be dancing to everything. If you break out the hottest current dance music too early in the night it will probably discourage them and they might even leave early.
  • Allow guest requests. You may not have a good handle on what the majority of your guests do or do not want to dance to. By allowing the DJ or band to take requests they are able to get direct input from the crowd. A good wedding entertainer will of course filter these requests and won’t play anything inappropriate, songs on your “Do Not Play” list or songs that won’t fit in with your own personal preferences.
  • Remember that everyone may not share your taste is music. If you hire a professional band or disk jockey they should be available to help you plan out the music for your reception and incorporate your style into the day while still playing a good mix to keep all of your guests happy and on the dance floor. That is one of the true benchmarks of a great wedding entertainer, understanding and being able to incorporate the bride and groom’s more eclectic musical tastes into the day while at the same time keeping all of the guests entertained.
  • Submit your music lists at least two weeks prior to the wedding if you are using a DJ, this will allow them plenty of time to compile the music and acquire any songs that they do not have in their library. If you are using a band you will have to get your requests in months ahead of time to allow them ample time to learn and practice new songs that they may not have in their repertoire.


  • Hand the entertainer a list of 100 songs and demand that they all be played and in that order. Don’t laugh, it happens. Of course you should be involved in the selection of the music for your wedding day but if you do this you are severely limiting the entertainers ability to “read” the crowd and play the right song at the right time. A good entertainer will understand your musical tastes and incorporate that throughout the event in a way that will still keep your guests happy and on the dance floor. On those few occasions where a bride has held fast to her list and her order, they have always come up to me half way through the event and realized their mistake and end up giving me free reign. You are hiring professional entertainment for a reason; trust their experience and skill.
  • Say I want all this type of music and nothing else. Some brides and grooms tell me they love Hip Hop and that is what they want to hear all night. Take into consideration your guests enjoyment of the evening as well. Don’t you want them to have a wonderful time too? Grandma and Grandpa just might not like Hip Hop. Ultimately it is your night and the entertainer should do exactly what you ask of them but take into consideration the wide range of age ranges and musical tastes of your guests when making up your play list.
  • Run up to the entertainer and say I want this song next! Again, it is your wedding and they should do what you ask but the entertainer has put a lot of thought into the selection of songs to get to this point in the evening. If your song fits in with the current genres being played NEXT is probably a great idea. If you are requesting a techno track be played next and the dance floor is full of grandparents dancing to swing maybe you could ask that the song be played soon so the DJ has time to progress into that genre instead of scaring the living daylights out of the older folks on the dance floor.

If you follow these do’s and don’ts and hire professional wedding entertainment your reception will be an evening of dancing and socializing that all of your guests will thoroughly enjoy and talk about for years to come!

Source by Mike Dodson