The Wedding Reception: Music details

By Mikki Viereck

People always ask me what music is best for a wedding reception. As you might guess there is no exact answer because a lot depends on the reception itself.

For example:

  • If the reception is being held in a small room adjacent to a church and there is no dancing the bride and groom might want a pianist playing very soft background music.
  • However if the reception if being held in a banquet hall with 500 guests there is a good chance the bride and groom will want a 12 piece band with a few singers.
  • And if the bride and groom are trying to achieve a certain theme they will often choose a style of music to complement their wedding. (If the groom wears a cowboy hat and the reception is on a ranch they will probably choose all country music).

But the basic answer to this burning question is that most times brides and grooms want big band, swing, and pop-songs for the first part of the reception. Then after dinner, they choose top 40, oldies, R&B, country, ethnic music, group dances, etc.

In other words, they want a good mix because when you mix different styles of music, you are more likely to please all ages and, as a result, more guests will be inclined to dance.

As soon as you confirm a wedding date and secure a location for your reception you should begin making arrangements to hire (and contract) your musicians or DJ. The most popular wedding music professionals are booked at least one year in advance.

Once you have decided who will be working for you don't be shy about telling your bandleader or DJ exactly what you want. Confirming special details will take more time on your part, but it is the only way to achieve the wedding of "your" dreams. If you are undecided about anything, definitely ask your bandleader or DJ for
suggestions, but you should make the final choices.

You should have an in-depth meeting with your bandleader or DJ at least six weeks before your wedding day.

At that meeting you should discuss...

  • Introductions:
    Bring a list of names of the bridal party and in what order you want them introduced. When you compile a list of your bridal party names, you may want to include something about each person so your guests will now why that person is special to you. Whether it is funny or sentimental, everyone will enjoy this personal touch.
  • Confirm songs you want played for special moments:
    • The bride and groom's first dance as a married couple.
    • The bridal party dance (you could also have the bridal party join in the bride and groom's first dance)
    • Father/Bride dance
    • Mother/Groom dance (or you could choose one song for a father/bride, groom/mother dance).
    • A special garter and/or bouquet toss song (s).
    • Songs for any other special dances (including ethnic or group dances).
    • Anniversary song for all other married couples.
    • A song for the end of the reception.
  • Confirm exactly what order you want special moments to take place:
    • Blessing (confirm the name of who will give the blessing)
    • The toast (confirm the name who will give the toast)
    • The cake cutting ceremony.
    • The bride and groom's first dance.
    • The father bride dance.
    • The mother groom dance.
    • The wedding party dance.
    • Any ethnic dances.
    • Garter and or bouquet toss.
    • Anything else you would like to add.
  • Confirm a list of songs you want played.
  • Confirm a list of songs you definitely do not want played.
  • Confirm any special instructions for the cake cutting ceremony.
  • Confirm any special instructions for the garter and/or bouquet toss.
  • Confirm band breaks (the band should play CDs while they are on break).
  • Confirm the band or DJs attire.
  • Confirm a wireless microphone for the blessing, toast, etc.
  • Confirm overtime charge (if you think you will want it) and when it would be paid.
  • Review the entire contract including final payment and when it should be paid.
  • Confirm that the person who you hired, had meetings with and signed the contract is also the person who will be working for you on your wedding day. You don't want some mystery musician or DJ at your wedding.

By Mikki Viereck
To hear Mikki's special songs, or purchase her CD's for the bride, groom, bridal party and more visit the New Wedding Traditions section on our web site.

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