Wedding guests are usually anxious to head to the reception, where they can let loose and party. Music is an essential component of a lively and fun wedding reception, and there are some musical miscues couples should look to avoid to ensure the music is not memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Blocks of silence: Nothing makes time seem interminable more than silence. Always have a constant flow of music to avoid awkward silences. This includes the time guests are waiting prior to the ceremony as well as when they’re entering the cocktail hour. Music will help everyone feel comfortable, and it creates a pleasing atmosphere, so make sure music plays throughout the festivities.

Second-guessing a professional: In an effort to curb costs, some couples provide their own playlists via an mp3 player or a streaming service for the music. This is often a mistake. Hiring a professional means you will not have to worry about managing music on top of your many other wedding day responsibilities. A band or deejay usually also serves as the emcee for the event, announcing key moments of the reception as well as getting guests up on the dance floor.

Playing only one type of music: Playing too many songs from one genre of music will alienate some of the guests who simply are not interested in that type of music. Professional deejays or performers know how to offer a great mix that will appeal to the masses, and they are often well worth the cost. Try to span different decades and genres to keep as many of your guests on the dance floor as possible.

Failure to make a song list: Some songs you may feel are essential to the wedding and others may be on a do-not-play list and are associated with negative memories. Band leaders and deejays are not mind readers. Give your band leader or deejay ample time to review your requests so that he or she has time to find a song that may not be in his or her collection.

Dancing to long songs: Pay attention to a song’s length, and choose spotlight dance songs wisely. Remember that guests will be watching you dance with parents or each other, and a five-minute song can seem neverending while others are waiting around. Avoid very long songs, as the mix of music should be upbeat.


The wedding isn’t the time to play “American Pie” by Don McClean, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.”

Inappropriate lyrics and volume: Keep the music at an acceptable volume, and avoid songs with suggestive language or curse words that are inappropriate in a family setting. Music is a key element of any good party, including a wedding reception, and it’s essential that couples take steps to avoid any musical miscues.

How to decide between a band or deejay

Few things set the tone for a wedding ceremony and reception better than music. Music establishes ambience and serves to transition guests through the various components of the day. Music is played in various ways throughout a wedding. For example, the wedding ceremony may be accompanied by a pianist or violinist, while music during the reception is usually provided by a band or deejay.

The decision of whether to hire a band or deejay often comes down to personal preference and budget. The following are some things couples should consider as they make their decision to go with a band or deejay.



Live musicians spend years honing their crafts, and watching a band play at a wedding reception can be akin to attending a concert. A live band can bring with it a sense of sophistication. Performers can tone the music to the crowd and improvise if necessary to meet the needs of the room.

A good bandleader also will serve as a master of ceremonies at the reception. Many wedding bands can competently play songs from various genres of music, while some are especially skilled at recreating the sound of a particular group. Bands tend to be more expensive than deejays, and that’s something couples must factor into their budgets if they prefer a band to a deejay.


The deejay is one of the first vendors people think of when they envision a wedding reception. Perhaps because they are less expensive, deejays tend to be more popular than bands among today’s couples. Deejays are advantageous for various reasons. Thanks to the accessibility of digital music, deejays can often procure just about any song a couple desires for the reception.

That’s a significant benefit for couples who want to hear the original versions of their favorite songs, and not a band’s take on those songs. Deejays also can read the crowd and make adjustments to the music at any time. If a particular genre is not working, deejays can easily transition to another type of music to get guests back on their feet. That’s not always possible for bands whose repertoire is exclusive to a particular genre.

Many deejays also blend songs seamlessly and may incorporate lights and other effects into their performances, which can encourage guests to loosen up and hit the dance floor. Deejays also tend to travel with less equipment than bands, so they will take up less space in a party room. No matter which road a couple chooses to travel, it’s a good idea to listen to a deejay or band perform in a live situation before making a final decision.


Couples also should confirm that the performers they meet or audition will be the ones who will perform at their weddings. Make sure this is written into your contract. Couples should provide a list of songs they want to hear well in advance of their wedding day. This affords a deejay ample time to find each song or bands to learn the songs before the big day arrives.  

A couple’s first dance as man and wife is a cherished wedding tradition. While the first dance can help set a positive tone for the reception, it also can negatively impact the festivities if a poor song is chosen.

Couples may feel pressure to choose the perfect song. Yes, this is a song that the couple has selected to represent their love for each other, but it also should be one that will speak to the masses and can be thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Couples want to avoid a song that does not seem to fit with the festivities. For those couples who need a little musical inspiration, turn to many of the modern hits you’re bound to hear on the radio which may help you to shine in that first dance.

“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri: “Twi-hard” fans enjoyed this romantic song during the pivotal wedding scene between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen in the popular “Twilight” movie “Breaking Dawn.” Couples looking to recreate the magic of these star-crossed lovers can embrace Perri’s delicate tone and tender lyrics.

“All of Me” by John Legend: It’s been hard to escape this popular love song by R&B artist John Legend. An ode Legend wrote to his wife, this song has quickly become a popular choice for a couple’s first dance.


“I Choose You” by Sara Bareilles: This peppy song by singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles is a good choice for couples who prefer being nontraditional. It’s faster paced and less sentimental than many other wedding songs.

“Better Together” by Jack Johnson: Johnson is known primarily for his soft rock and acoustic guitar work blended with catchy lyrics. Also an accomplished surfer, Johnson’s work is enjoyed by many but may be especially prized by couples who want to their reception to be a laid back affair full of fun and whimsy.

“I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz: Another acoustic ditty, this song has a country influence and talks about not giving up and staying in a relationship for the long haul.

“I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice: Speaking of country influences, couples who want a little twang in their first dances can choose Brice’s breakthrough hit. Romantic lyrics about spinning his partner around in circles despite not liking to dance illustrates what one partner will do for the other when in love.

Couples can make that first moment on the dance floor a special experience by choosing modern classics for their first dances. 

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