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: You 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.
Before we dive into my carefully-selected compilation, I wanted to give you some tips for creating your own.
11 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Wedding Dinner Music:
1. First, every great playlist has 4 traits:
- A mix of genres
- A variety of tempos
- A combination of popular and unknown songs
- 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. They may share a certain theme (romance, for instance), or maybe they 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?
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.
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.
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6. Create a do-not-play list.
While I love Bublé, he won’t be singing at 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.
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50 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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