What makes a good wedding playlist?

I’m asked this question a lot….”What should we put on the playlist?”

Believe it or not, it’s actually one of the hardest questions to answer!

The music for your wedding reception sets the right atmosphere, stirs important emotions, creates memories that last a lifetime and in short, can make or break the party.

Get the playlist right, and the party will be memorable by your guests for a long time to come. Get it wrong however….

But – don’t worry. I can help you to create the perfect wedding playlist!

I entertain on average, at 50 wedding receptions a year. I’ve worked at wedding receptions with very niche tastes (including a Goth party and plenty of 80s themed weddings), weddings with sequence dancing included in the evening’s entertainment, Anglo-French weddings, weddings for very flamboyant same sex couples, weddings for older couples…..

As you can probably see – there’s no “one size fits all” playlist.

This is why I don’t have “generic” playlists on my music systems. They just don’t work.

When left to my own devices, everything I do is determined on the night as a result of how you and your guests are responding to the music selection on the dance floor.

Alex & Matt's wedding reception at The Old Hall in Ely with Imagine Wedding & Party Entertainment

Anyway – back to the plot….what makes a good wedding playlist?

Most weddings are attended by a huge age range of guests, from the very young to the very old. OK, there are exceptions to that rule and those exceptions tend to be a little easier to create a playlist for.

For example, I’ve entertained for 60 year olds who’ve loved the current chart music, and twenty-somethings who’ve wanted nothing other than 50s Rock & Roll for the evening….you can’t assume anything in this job!

For most weddings though, it’s important to cater for everyone there.

This means that the playlist shouldn’t necessarily contain only your favourite tracks. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than guests not feeling like they can dance because the music isn’t to their tastes.

Wedding DJ in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Suffolk

“But there’s certain music I want to hear!”

Obviously you’re going to want your favourites at your wedding reception, and you should let your DJ know what these are.

Believe it or not we can actually take a selection of a dozen or so tracks and create an entire evening’s playlist from those and similar songs (you can tell a lot from somebody’s musical tastes).

I’m actually one of the few DJs I know that will happily take a full playlist for the entire evening if that’s what you want to give me. What I won’t do in that case though is guarantee that people will dance.

There are several ways to create a great playlist for your special day, and I’m able to help with that.

One of the most obvious and at the same time most overlooked answers is to ask your guests what they’d like to hear. After all, they’re the people you’d like to see having a good time on the dance floor aren’t they?

This can be done by asking them for a couple of songs in RSVP to your invitation, or I can provide you with a web address that guests can log into and add their own requests to the list.

You obviously get the final say in what’s played from those requests so if there’s something you really don’t want to hear…you can make sure it isn’t included.

Another obvious solution is to allow your guests to request songs on the night. Most DJs welcome this activity as it means the night can go in various different directions.

And don’t worry – if there’s something you’ve asked not to be played, it won’t be!

Jemima & Ed's wedding at Horsley Hale Farm
Wedding Party DJ at The Old Hall in Ely

“I can’t stand cheese. Do you have to play it?”

Just as important as the music which is played is the music which ISN’T.

For various reasons, there may be songs, genres or artists that you really don’t want to hear during your wedding reception.

It may be that a certain song has emotional ties to a relation which is maybe no longer here, it may be that you can’t stand Ed Sheeran, or it may be that you really don’t like “cheese” (and that’s a post for another day).

What you certainly WON’T hear from me unless you specifically request it is the type of music such as Oops Upside Your Head, Agadoo, The Hokey Cokey and similar “action” dances. I’m more than happy to play them if you want them, but 99% of the time I’m asked not to, and that’s completely OK.

Christine & Marcus's wedding reception with Imagine Wedding & Party Entertainment


So to answer the original question….”what makes a good wedding playlist?”

The answer is any number of things, not least of all your guests and their involvement in the evening.

There is no secret formula or magic list of songs which will work at every wedding…..it’s not that easy and every single wedding is different.

However because I’m a very kind and helpful DJ, here’s the top 20 most requested songs of last year for wedding playlists.

Bear in mind, this is across all weddings and everybody’s tastes are different – these are not my selections.

1Mark Ronson feat. Bruno MarsUptown Funk
2KillersMr. Brightside
3Pharrell WilliamsHappy
4Whitney HoustonI Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
5Kings Of LeonSex On Fire
6Bon JoviLivin’ On A Prayer
7Bryan AdamsSummer Of ’69
8Taylor SwiftShake It Off
9Black Eyed PeasI Gotta Feeling
10Walk The MoonShut Up And Dance
11JourneyDon’t Stop Believin’
12ABBADancing Queen
13Bruno MarsMarry You
14QueenDon’t Stop Me Now
15Rihanna feat. Calvin HarrisWe Found Love
16BeyonceSingle Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
17Dexys Midnight RunnersCome On Eileen
18Beyonce feat. Jay-ZCrazy In Love
19Maroon 5Moves Like Jagger
20Mark Ronson feat. Amy WinehouseValerie

Want to see some real playlists from recent weddings?

Wedding DJ in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire
Photo credit John Woodward Photography
Every wedding is different, and that includes the music that’s played. To see some real-life playlists from recent weddings I’ve entertained at, please have a look at these write-ups for each wedding. Hopefully you’ll see that no two weddings are the same musically….they really are an individual and unique as you are as a couple.

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