Choosing the music for YOUR wedding

It’s harder than it might sound…..what music should be played at YOUR wedding?

Let me try to help you.

I’ve entertained at more weddings than I dare to remember (because it makes me feel old). Whilst ALL weddings are unique and special to the couple involved, there are some tips I can share with you when it comes to the music selections.

I’ll split this post into three parts, mainly because there are three very distinct parts of your day, the Ceremony, The Wedding Breakfast and of course, The Evening Reception.

The Ceremony

Did you know I can provide the music and PA systems for this part of your day?

It’s an often overlooked service and one which I love providing (I love being at a wedding!)

The music played during your wedding ceremony is one of the most personal and special selections you can make. It’s also the only part of your day which is subject to strict laws as to what can and can’t be used.

There are various rules which apply to the music which is played during your wedding ceremony, and your Registrar will need to approve your choices of music. A word of warning, each and every Registrar is different and what one will allow, another won’t. Unfortunately, their word is final on this matter.

According to UK law:

  • Any reading, music, words or performance which forms part of a ceremony of marriage celebrated on the premises must be secular in nature; for this purpose any such material used by way of introduction to, in any interval between parts of, or by way of conclusion to the ceremony shall be treated as forming part of the ceremony
  • It is up to registrars and local authorities to determine that the music played during your civil ceremony, from the arrival of the bride to the departure of the newly married couple, and whether sung or instrumental or performed live or on CD, must observe this guidance.

In English, songs containing any reference to religion are banned for a start. That includes hymns and if marrying at Christmas, carols! In a similar vein, songs which contain strong political meanings, violence or explicit language are also regularly refused by registrars.

The key tip here is….consult with your Registrar once you’ve got an idea of the music you’d like for your ceremony to make sure they’ll actually allow it on the day.

I absolutely cannot go against what they decide, and the ceremony in extreme circumstances can be stopped if I try to!

The Registrar will normally have a word or three with me before things start to confirm the music selections (amongst other things such as discrete cues to indicate when they’re ready for me to do things).

So, I offered to help in this post… are some of the more popular choices at the moment:

Classical tracks


Wedding Breakfast

The formalities are done….congratulations!

You’re now happily married and it’s time to start unwinding a little bit (OK….you still have the traditional roasting from the Best Man/Woman to come but don’t worry about that just yet).

There are now NO legal restrictions as to what can be played….it’s entirely up to you.

But, there are a couple of things to bear in mind.

It’s still fairly early in the day. Your guests will naturally want to spend time catching up with each other, especially if they haven’t met up for a while. They’re also unlikely to want to be deafened by the latest Top 40 chart hits at nightclub volumes whilst they tuck into a splendid feast, buffet, or whatever else you have planned for the wedding breakfast.

The choice of music played for the wedding breakfast is entirely up to you, but should (from experience) be slightly more mellow and low key, and played at a volume which still allows conversation. In short, the wedding breakfast music should be heard…but only just!

Popular choices at recent weddings have been:

  • Light jazz
  • Piano Classics
  • Love songs
  • Slower pop songs

Your Evening Reception

OK – now it’s time to REALLY let your hair down!

You only have the First Dance (if indeed you’re partaking of that tradition) to go. The rest of the evening should be an upbeat party which allows your guests to have fun on the dance floor.

So…what music should you choose?

That I’m afraid, depends on a mix of your personal favourites and some selections from your guests (after want your guests to dance don’t you?)

Whilst there are certain songs which will fill a dance floor at every wedding, there are also others which will clear it (and some of those might surprise you). My advice for the evening reception? Be flexible!

In the past, I’ve had couples who have specified the entire evening’s entertainment with no deviation based on their own personal preferences and it’s been a disaster (and there is nothing I’m able to do to change that!). On the flip side, I’ve had couples who have specified the evening’s playlist so well that I’ve gone home with a massive grin on my face.

There are no right or wrong answers to this one. Even I, with 30 years of experience can’t pre-plan a playlist for a wedding reception before the night….it really ISN’T possible.

But…there ARE things which can make life simpler

  • Trust your DJ. It sounds cliche, but believe me….I entertain at around 40 weddings a year and know what will and won’t work on the night…it’s what I do for a living and I’m very good at it!
  • Allow your guests to make requests…..after all if they ask for it, they’re more likely to dance to it
  • Don’t be too restrictive on the music policy. There are songs you may not like but your guests do….I know it’s YOUR party, but do you want people to dance? (note that if something is requested which is on a “Do Not Play” list….I’ll obviously adhere to that list and not play it!)
  • Chill and enjoy the evening for the party it is!

So…how do you let me know what music you’d like for your big day?

I try to keep things simple 🙂 

I offer an online planning service which allows you to pre-select songs for the various parts of your day.

You can log in and tell me about the songs you like, don’t like (and mustn’t play for whatever reason). I can even provide a shortened URL which can be sent to your guests ahead of the day so that they can request music (you obviously have the final say on what’s requested!).

I’m also happy to take playlists via email, text….whatever is easiest for you. And of course, I’m more than happy to take requests on the night!

Hopefully this post has given you some help into selecting the music for your special day and will make the choices a little easier. It’s been written from a lot of experience at providing wedding entertainment for the last 30 years and whilst every wedding is different, there are also a lot of similarities.

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