Wedding Music Guide and Planner


You’ve found a friend, a lover and a life-long companion all rolled into one. This is an occasion to Celebrate! Now it’s time to plan a wedding that will provide joyous memories to last a lifetime.

The Music

After a lifetime of imagining what it will be like, your wedding day is becoming a reality. This is one of life’s special moments and all the people you care about are gathering to celebrate your new beginning. You’ve hired a professional DJ to provide the musical entertainment giving you the opportunity to have your musical tastes represented. Here a few guidelines to consider:

Ceremony Music

Prelude – As your guests arrive, music will create a welcoming atmosphere. You can choose a theme (Celtic, Spanish guitar, Renaissance/Classical, etc.) or have a mix of soft instrumental and vocal music.

Processional – When all the guests are seated, some couples choose a song for special members of their families to be seated. The bridesmaids typically have their own song to walk down the aisle to and, of course, the bride has her special music.

Ceremony – Vocal or instrumental pieces that express your feelings for each other can be used during a unity candle or sand ceremony. If you’re not planning on something like this, there is no need to play music during the ceremony.

Recessional – The knot is tied so select a song that conveys the emotion of the moment. Joyous, fun, triumphant and upbeat are characteristics worth considering.

Ceremony Music Suggestions

1. Prelude
The prelude refers to the time period in which guests arrive and find their seats. You will need approximately 30 minutes of music that will reflect the mood you want to set for the ceremony.

2. Ceremony

Vocal pieces or instrumental selections that convey warm, devotional feelings are appropriate here. Find music that means something to you.

3. Recessional

This music should be more upbeat, sweeping the bride and groom back up the isle. Look for music that can create an atmosphere of celebration and express your joy of being married.

4. Postlude

Select additional music to be played as people leave the ceremony. Happy is good.

The Reception

Cocktail Music

The ceremony has ended and your guests convene to converse, have a drink and an appetizer while you take pictures. Choose music that is upbeat and can reflect the joy of the occasion.


When you are ready to be formally introduced into the reception here are the four basic options:

1. Parents, flower girl(s), ring bearer, and wedding party
2. Just the wedding party (with parents introduced seated at their tables) 3. The bride and groom only
4. No introductions

The Toasts

A good time for the toast is after the introductions or before the meal, the first dance or the cake cutting.

Dinner Music

Once the meal is underway, the music volume should never be so loud that your guests cannot carry on a conversation across the table. To facilitate this, it is beneficial to change the tone of the music to softer, more down tempo selections. Again, your DJ should be able to program a mix that sets the tone while preventing drowsiness.

Dance Music

No doubt there will be people from many different generations and when the dancing starts, you’ll want them all to have a turn on the dance floor. Generally, it works well to cater to the parent’s and grandparent’s age group early in the evening. A set that combines songs from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s will usually get the job done.

As the reception continues, the music can become more current but it is the DJ’s responsibility to read the crowd and take the music where it needs to go for your guests to have a good time. Many people complain that they hear the same old, tired songs at every wedding and don’t want them played at their wedding.
If this describes you, just remember human beings tend to respond to music they are familiar with. An overly restrictive playlist can hamper a DJ’s ability to get your guests up and moving.

General Tips

  1. When determining your seating arrangements, place your older guests away from the dance floor (thus the speakers).
  2. Try to avoid placing tables between the speakers and the dance floor. When the dancing starts, the people at these tables will have difficulty hearing each other.
  3. When compiling your music list, if song names escape you, pick favorite artists or styles of music and let your DJ do the rest.

Additional Considerations Toast Tips

If you want to prepare those giving a toast:
-personalize your toast, say it with your own words from the heart
-use a theme ex. “growing up with …,” “why they’re so perfect together” -close with class
-recommend no drinking prior and 1 to 3 minutes in duration
-the internet can provide ideas and additional information

First Dance – Doing the first dance right after the grand entrance is now the standard. Many couples still prefer to do it after the meal.

(note: If you are uncomfortable dancing alone you can invite the wedding party to join you during the song or you can cut the song short.)

Dismissing tables to the buffet options:

1.  The caterer dismisses the tables.

2.  DJ dismisses tables by designated order or by a variety of ways

a) according to best response to “which table’s the hungriest?”

b) trivia questions devised by the wedding couple

c) “Sing for your supper” which each table must serenade the newlyweds with a love song to get dismissed

Participation during meal

Instead of your guests clanging their glasses to get you to kiss, you can: 1. Have each table come up with a love song to sing to you. 2. Ask for “Pearls of Wisdom” (advice to ensure a long, happy marriage) and you kiss if you like the advice. 3. Use the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” as “The 12 Months of Marriage” and have each table come up with an original idea to complete the phrase “On first day of marriage my true love said to me …”.

Bouquet Toss Option – All single women form a circle around the bride who is blindfolded. The women begin to walk around the bride to the selected music and when the music stops, the bride throws the bouquet.

Garter Toss Option – The groom goes under the bride’s dress and comes out with panties, boxers, a rabbit or what ever your imagination comes up with.

Post Bouquet & Garter Toss – The man who catches the garter is blindfolded and puts it on the leg of the woman who catches the bouquet. The higher up the garter goes, the happier their future marriages will be. Option : switch the groom (pant leg rolled up) with the woman .

Garter Relay – After recruiting a male volunteer from each table, 2 teams are made. Each team forms a line and places a member in a chair across the dance floor. At the signal, the 1st in line dashes to the man in the chair, uses one hand to place the garter past the seated teammate’s knee then sits in the chair while the garter wearer runs back, removes the garter with one hand and gives it to the next guy in line. The 1st team with all its members back wins. The reward – a team photo with the bride!

Cake Cutting Options
1. Before the wedding couple feeds each other the cake, the DJ says “the more cake they get on each other the more fun they will have on their wedding night and we want them to have fun, right?!”

2. The bride and groom kiss and stay kissing as long as the crowd continues to cheer (the DJ will intercede if it goes on too long).
3. DJ leads sing-a-long to “Chapel of Love”.

Money Dance – This can be renamed the Honeymoon, Friendship, or Dollar Dance. Variations are: 1. The women (or entire crowd) form a circle, the music begins, the groom enters the circle to dance and the guests put money in his pockets (the best man could also fill in for the groom). Next, it’s the bride’s turn (money purse can be used). 2. As the wedding couple dances together, guests pins the money on them.

Reception Timetable
(many items are optional and the sequence can vary)

event approximate time(s) Guests arrive

1st Dance
Toast(s) Lunch/Dinner Blessing
Parent’s Dance Bridal Party Dance Cake Cutting Bouquet Toss Garter Toss Money Dance

Last Dance


Menu of Special Dances and Activities

The following items can be helpful in bringing people together in the spirit of playfulness and celebration They are, of course, optional so choose as many or as few (zero is fine) as you like. Feel free to create your own or alter any of these to fit your own tastes – just let me know….

The Celebration Circle – This is a group dance that requires very little instruction. Michael gets everyone to form circles around the Bride and Groom. As the music begins, the dancers are instructed to perform various movements. This dance gets everyone involved and kickstarts the party. Highly recommended.

Open Toasting – Using a wireless microphone, Michael announces that after the traditional toasts, anyone who wants to share a toast will have the opportunity to do so. This gives guests a chance to share their joy and sense of humor plus it can be very moving.

Longest Married Dance – Beginning with an invitation for all married couples to come to the dance floor, a love ballad is played and couples are asked to stand aside in 5 year increments. This eventually leaves the longest married couple with the newlyweds. We can then ask them their secret, how they met and give them a round of applause.

Electric Slide – This is an extremely popular line dance. Simply put on the traditional music or have Michael instruct. Still a crowd favorite.

Cha Cha Slide – This line dance includes the directions in the music. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Cupid Shuffle – Another line dance that’s easy to learn.

Wobble – The latest line dance that’s sweeping the nation.

Merengue Mania – Done with two lines, men facing women, meet at the end and merengue (it’s as easy as walking) down the middle. Olé!

Soul Train – A line of women face a line of men and the end couple meets and dances down the center of the two lines. You can choose your favorite music or leave it to the pro.

That’s the Way (I Like It) – This line dance gets everybody in a funky 70’s groove. Shake that booty and strut your stuff!

The Train – This is a more recent version of the locomotion with very simple arm and foot movements. Come on an’ Ride It!

Get Down Tonight – This line dance gets everybody in a funky 70’s groove. Shake that booty, strut your stuff and get down tonight!

Love Train – Done to the 1973 song of the same name by the O’Jays, this dance gets people to climb aboard and take off for destinations unknown.

Dancing with Myself – Throw the idea of having a partner out the window, it’s time to cut loose on your own! Get wild and crazy with your own individual style.

Chicken Dance – Practically everyone has done this dance. Yes, its silly but people still love to be a chicken! There is also a Chicken Dance International that includes sections of a polka, Mexican hat dance, Irish jig, Italian tarantella, and a hora along with the original movements.

Hand Jive – A tradition from the 1950’s that tests your coordination and sobriety.
Shout – Everybody has danced to this party anthem but we use it for a revival meeting in honor of our featured

guest(s). It’s nondenominational and guaranteed to raise your spirits.
So You Think You Can Dance! – Much like the contest above but using a greater variety of music through the ages.

Hokey Pokey – This time honored circle dance is great for kids of all ages. How can you fault a song that states that waving your hands in the air and turning in a circle is what “it’s all about” (also comes in funky and hard rock versions – please specify).

Zorba’s Dance – Using the theme from “Zorba the Greek”, this is a circle dance that starts slow but ends up flying. Traditionally, napkins are used to join the dancers but hands work just as well.

Go Forth Ye and Multiply – Choose a style of music (slow, fast, waltz, polka, tango, swing, etc.) and a couple to start the dance. After a minute , we announce “go forth ye and multiply” and the couple goes and finds two new dance partners. This continues on until the whole crowd is involved.

You Spin Me Round – A circle dance where the inner circle of men faces the outer circle of women and both spin in opposite directions. When the music stops, each person finds a partner in the opposite circle and dances. This repeats several times. Get dizzy with several partners!

The Stroll – The Stroll needs two lines with men facing women. Learn the basic step and then the end couple meets and proceeds down the line.

Everybody Polka! – Get a partner, learn the steps, change partners once, twice – you’re a pro!
The Hustle – 70’s line dance that’s simple to learn and perform. The Solid Gold Dancers never looked so good.

Macarena – By now, everyone has been exposed to this dance. Michael can demonstrate for those who need instruction and he will throw in a few twists to keep you guessing.

U Can Dance – Michael gets people to form a circle and leads them through a variety of dances like the swim, the sink, the jerk, the mashed potato, the pony, and the sprinkler. Then he picks a person to step into the middle and everybody gets a chance to teach a move or two!

Conga Line – Another single line dance that gets the whole crowd involved. Basic steps can be taught or free form expression works well too. There are lots of variations that can happen once we’re on our way.

Bunny Hop – Participants form a single line, facing one direction, and perform various steps. Another one that kids of all ages love to do.

Limbo – How low can you go?
Locomotion – A variation on the conga line originating back to 1962 with the song performed by Little Eva. Versions

by Grand Funk Railroad and Kylie Minogue work well too.

Tienes Ritmo? – Handing out various percussion instruments, Michael conducts the rhythm section in a live performance. Great for bringing out the musician in us all. (additional fee)

River Dance – Kick up your heels and do a jig. Everyone gets a chance to shine during this Irish dance extravaganza.

Don’t Worry Be Happy – Using the popular song of the same name, Michael rewrites the lyrics to honor the newlyweds and involves everyone in a sing-along chorus. Choir was never this easy!

Cotton Eye Joe – A simple country dance done with several lines of two to six people traveling in a circle. Easy to learn, easy to do and lots of fun! Done to traditional music or to a newer contemporary dance version.

Fiesta Argentina – This is a line dance done to the music of the Andes. It starts out slow then builds to a rousing conclusion. Easy to teach and learn.

Can’t Help Falling In Love (with you) – Elvis may have made it famous but Michael uses it to involve participants in a serenade of the Bride and Groom.

Let’s Pretend! – Find a partner and get ready to compete for the ballroom dance championship (a medley of tango, cha cha, polka, two-step, Irish jig, belly dance, square dance etc). You don’t know how to ballroom dance? Fake it! Points awarded for creativity and style.