How to plan and choose Music for your Wedding with your DJ

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There are normally three main parts to a wedding when it comes to music.

  1. Ceremony
  2. Cocktail Hour
  3. Reception

Of course there are sub categories to the Ceremony and Reception however it is important to carefully plan with your DJ the time line of the Wedding and relevant music.


The main things to consider with the ceremony is:

  • Background Music – It is normally recommended to have some background music for around 30 minutes before the ceremony starts. This creates a nice ambiance for your guests, your DJ would normally have a playlist ready for this situation. Feel free to suggest some songs that are important to you. This gives your guests time to catch up and mingle before taking their seats.

Choose independent songs for the following:

  • Parents entrance, Groomsmen and Groom
  • Bridesmaids
  • Bride
  • Signing of the registry
  • Recessional song

Cocktail Hour

This is normally a bit more low key however it starts setting the mood for the reception. It is worth keeping mind that if you have a band for Cocktail hour, pass their playlist on to the DJ. You do not want to repeat songs and this helps keeping the night fresh by not repeating songs.

Your DJ will have a great cocktail play list ready for cocktail hour, again suggest any songs you would like included.


The reception is where the DJ draws on their experience and reads the crowd and their reactions to certain music genres. It is a good idea to give your DJ a must play and a do not play song list to ensure you and your guests get some favorite songs added to the mix.

However think twice about giving the DJ a set play list for the entire reception. The issue is if your crowd is not responding to the list or the want to make requests but are unable to. It may be bring mood of the reception down. It can end up being a real downer if the crowd are not enjoying the music.

So it is advisable to let the DJ do what they do best, entertain you and your guests while incorporating the songs you love.

The main categories for the reception include but certainly not restricted to and category names can change depending on the wedding type.

  • Wedding party grand entrance
  • Bride and Groom’s grand entrance
  • First dance
  • Father Daughter dance
  • Mother Son dance
  • Wedding Party dance
  • Cake cutting
  • Garter toss
  • Bouquet toss
  • Last song of the night!

In most situations a song is required for each of these so it is a good idea to have songs planned for each stage.

Your DJ will aim to entertain everybody during the reception, encouraging as many people as possible to the dance floor. The most popular genre will get most of the play time if the majority are dancing and enjoying it while throwing some of you favorites in.

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare the music you want, this should not be a last minute thing. The entertainment will make your wedding a success and memorable for all involved if done correctly. Also your DJ will need adequate time to prepare for your special day.

Don’t think for a moment that the DJ just rocks up and plays music. There is many hours of preparation that go in to each wedding.

Most DJ’s like to have their prep done around 7 days prior, so it is important to give them plenty of time to prepare.

It is a great idea to have something to write down songs when you think of them or hear them on the radio. You may also consider making a Spotify play list (or similar) to share with the DJ.

Also keep open communication with your DJ, plans can change, again give as much notice as you can in these situations.

As a final thought, it is not always necessary to have a DJ for all three categories, you may just want them for Reception and that is perfectly fine. Discuss your options and ask questions with the DJ before booking them to ensure they can deliver what you want.

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