If you are in the midst of planning a wedding, music has likely come up as a topic of discussion since music is such a vital part of making your wedding exciting, flowing, and memorable. You may have questions about whether you should hire a band or DJ, or how to create your own playlist, and we’ve got you covered. Here are our top tips for planning your wedding music:
Map Out the Day
The first step to planning your wedding music is to map out your entire wedding day. There are so many smaller events within one wedding, and you want to ensure the right music is played throughout the night. This is the opportunity to visualize and plan how you want your guests to feel and experience each moment. Do you want them to laugh at a cute and energetic Father/Daughter dance routine coupled with a high-energy James Brown song, or do you want them to get misty-eyed watching the Father of the Bride and his daughter dance to Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish”? Either song will be the catalyst for a beautiful moment, so it just depends on your personality and taste. When you map out the day, think about these things and envision what you believe would be the perfect songs for each moment.
Consider Your Personal Taste
In conjunction with mapping out the day, consider you and your fianceé’s personal taste and be sure to incorporate your personal preferences into your wedding music plan. Do you both share the same musical tastes? If not, there is still a way to give a nod to both styles. Maybe you prefer to hear energetic pop songs from the ’90s, but your fianceé loves romantic country music; you can save the ’90s pop for the later part of the reception when guests are full of energy and ready to dance, then play the country music for the wedding ceremony or special dances early in the evening. Suppose you have a few favorite songs that don’t quite fit the energy or flow of a particular part of your event, but you love the words or feeling of the song. In that case, you can use instrumental versions or ask a live musician to play a “stripped down” version of a fast song that otherwise wouldn’t work during that part of the wedding.
Don’t Forget About Your Vision
As you both consider your personal tastes for the wedding playlist, you may think to get a little input from other people like your planner, close friends, and relatives. We encourage you to take their suggestions but don’t forget about your vision for your big day. Yes, you are putting this music together to set the mood and entertain your guests, but do not forget about the most important people of the night – you and your new spouse!
Hire a DJ or DIY?
A typical wedding question: Should you hire a DJ or create a wedding playlist yourself? There are a few items to unpack within this question, but the most important consideration is whether you will have someone to help you on your wedding day. It doesn’t matter if you create the best wedding playlist on the planet; if you do not have a designated person to play different songs at the right time, planning to showcase a DIY playlist throughout the entire event could be a nightmare. Even if you select a specific person to play music during your wedding, you need to spend time making sure they are familiar with the playlist and flow of the night. Asking a friend or guest to be responsible for this task throughout the night is a pretty significant lift, and we recommend offering them a token of appreciation if you go this route. The average wedding is between 5-7 hours, so asking someone to be responsible for such an enormous task without compensation is a long time.
At this point, you may get a sense that our recommendation is to consider hiring a DJ or live band, and you are right. We understand that hiring a new vendor will add to your overall budget. Still, from a logistical point of view, it is risky to depend on a guest, without any type of compensation or actual experience, to set the mood through music for the entire night. Trust a professional vendor to provide you with the music, experience, and intuition so you can focus on enjoying the music and not playing DJ all night.
BONUS TIP: If you still want an opportunity to share your curated playlist, you can create a playlist that can be played during the cocktail hour. Most weddings have a cocktail hour where a DJ or live musician plays music while guests mix and mingle, waiting for the reception to begin. Instead of incurring the additional cost of hiring a vendor for this part of the night, you can use your curated playlist. The cocktail hour is a more low-maintenance event, so you can get away with just pressing play and allowing the music to play on shuffle with the right playlist. You can also play another playlist at the night’s end when guests are leaving the reception hall or ask your wedding DJ or band to play your curated playlist on their breaks.
Hire a Live Band
Hiring a live band is slightly different from hiring a DJ; you will be orchestrating with a group of people versus one, which can be complicated yet rewarding. Wondering what questions you should ask before hiring a live band? Here are a few:
- How long have you been doing this professionally?
- Have you done events at my wedding venue?
- Do you take any breaks? How many and when?
- What music will be provided during the breaks?
- Do you take requests from guests?
- How much would you charge for overtime?
- What is your refund/cancellation policy?
- Do you bring backup equipment?
You should feel comfortable asking the bandleader or booking agent these questions early on in the planning process. We encourage you to ask friends for recommendations on bands or do your own research to find at least 2-3 candidates. Find their Google Reviews, view their promo videos, and follow their social media accounts. Most professional agencies will have one or more of these marketing resources available for the public.
After you connect with a professional agency, you will have the opportunity to discuss your wish list with an agent and coordinate the wedding music that best suits your event. Even with a live band, you have room to showcase your playlist during the cocktail hour, band breaks, or after the band’s last song as guests are leaving. If you need assistance or are stumped while trying to finish your playlist, you can ask the bandleader to help you add more songs. Most band leaders have great playlists created for breaks throughout the night, so if you only have a few songs that you must hear, you can allow the bandleader or DJ to take over and complete the rest of the list.
Share Your Playlist with Guests
Whether you hire a DJ or band, you can incorporate your playlist into the wedding in several ways mentioned above. After all of the hard work you’ve put into creating such an incredible and personalized playlist, we encourage you to share it with your guests. You may have included songs they loved and never heard of before, or you may have given them a little taste of nostalgia with great throwback songs. You can share your playlist with guests after the wedding as an excellent memory and maybe even a parting gift. You can also share the playlist with guests who couldn’t attend the wedding.
Add A Surprise to the Playlist
If you want to create a super special moment for your guests, you can add a surprise to your playlist. The best moments are impromptu crowd-pleasers, and if you choose the right songs, you can help create those moments. If the groomsmen or bridesmaids have a particular song that brings great memories to mind, you can invite them to the dance floor, and once the first few beats come in, they will probably know the song and sing along. You can also include religious and sacred music into your playlist. Playing the Hora or sorority and fraternity chants traditionally turned into songs are great ways to engage your guests.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF StephDee Photography