Set the Night to Music

The soundtrack for your wedding is a big deal. It sets the mood (classical speaks to elegance and grace, while punk rock screams spunky and different), and can either make or break a party. Whether you’re hiring a six-piece string ensemble, a DJ, a rock band or are planning to load up an iPod with your fave MP3s, follow this handy checklist to make sure you have music in place for all the key moments.

Ceremony Music


  • Choose up to four songs or arrangements for your processional to play up to 45 minutes: seating of the parents and grandparents, entrance of the wedding party, and for the brides or grooms monumental walk down the aisle.


  • If you’re integrating ring warming, unity candle lighting or handfasting into your ceremony, you may want separate music to play during this silent moment.


  • You’ve shared your first kiss as a married couple and turn to face the crowd. Your officiant announces you, and joyful, upbeat music commences for you to walk down the aisle.


Reception Music

Cocktail Hour

  • While you’re taking your family or couple photos, the rest of your guests are feeding their stomachs with passed hors d’oeuvres and partaking in your signature cocktail. This time traditionally lasts 45 minutes to an hour, so you’ll need to choose some tunes to get the party started, but not too crazy yet (after all, you two aren’t there, and the party doesn’t really get underway until you return and dinner’s finished).


  • Your DJ or band will introduce you as you want to be known now that you’re married (if either or both of you have changed your names). Then they can introduce the rest of your wedding party. We like the idea of adding short bits of songs to surprise each person, like Fergie’s “Glamorous” for a diva maid of honor or the Pussycat Doll’s “When I grow up” for your flower girls.

First Dance

  • Your first dance as a married couple is likely one of the most fun songs to choose, as it says so much about you as a couple. It could be the song that you’ve identified as “our song” since the beginning of your relationship, your grandparent’s first dance song or something new you discover while you’re planning your wedding. There’s nothing wrong or right with this decision, but two things to think about: 1) It’s fun to have an original idea that not everyone else uses for their first dance song. 2) If you choose something at least slightly well known and not totally obscure, you can request it from bands and DJs for the rest of your lives on special occasions.

Dinner Music

  • If you are hosting your guests to dinner, come up with a genre that your band or DJ can select music from, like jazz or old-school country, that will play in the background while everyone dines, mingles and makes their toasts. The sound of gibson acoustics in the background can really set the mood.



  • Let them eat cake! There’s a host of songs themed to sugar and sweets for your cake-cutting. We like “Sugar, sugar” by the Archies.

Bouquet Toss

  • Tossing the bouquet music. This time-honored tradition works when there’s an actual bouquet involved—or two. As of late, Beyoncé’s “All the single ladies” song and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls just want to have fun” have been making the rounds at weddings across the country.

Dance the Night Away

  • If you’re having a dancing portion of the evening (and we highly recommend you don’t miss out on this delight), you’ll need to make two lists for your DJ or band: “must play” and “We will be so upset if you play this.” Make sure you include all your songs that you identify with as a couple, but also think about songs for your parents or grandparents to enjoy (think about surprising them with their first-dance songs from their weddings), music you can dance to with your friends and songs that everyone of all ages can get out on the dance floor and get down to.

The Last Dance

  • The last song that wraps up the evening. In a blink of an eye, all that planning you worked on for months has come to the send-off (if you haven’t left earlier), and it’s time to go out with a bang. Make sure it’s a good one!