5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Music for Your Wedding

A white floral boutonniere on the keys of a piano.

There are a number of stressful details to consider when it come to planning a wedding, and choosing music is one of them. (Yes, really!) While planning music for your big day can definitely be fun, it’s something that does require time and discernment. Why? Because music plays an important role in your celebration. It sets the mood, energizes the room, and gets your guests excited about dancing (which is really the best part of the reception, right?). You definitely don’t want to overlook anything when it comes to selecting the right music, so here are five mistakes to avoid when choosing music for your wedding.

1. Forgetting a Soundtrack for Your Ceremony, and Cocktail and Dinner Hours

A couple of musicians playing at an outdoor wedding ceremony.

Most couples focus on having music for their reception, with the exception of when the bride walks down the aisle. However, you shouldn’t forget to set the tone at your ceremony, dinner, or cocktail hour since these are crucial times for your guests. When it comes to the ceremony, refrain from greeting your guests with silence. Begin music at least 20 to 30 minutes before the ceremony starts to set the tone, as well as to signal the guests that it’s time to settle down and get seated.

Cocktail hour is key because it transitions your guests from that traditional ceremony mode to a lighter energy, so you definitely want to include playful music at this point. And don’t forget dinner! It can feel pretty boring when eating in silence, so don’t forget to include some relaxing tunes for your guests as they break bread.

2. Not Playing Music Your Guests Want to Hear

Yes, it’s your wedding, and while you might have a particular theme or taste that you want to stick to, it’s really important to include your guests’ preferences with music as well. After all, the reception is really the biggest part of the day when they get to let loose and come together with friends and family, so as the gracious host it’s only right to cater to them. Don’t be afraid to mix it up with oldies for your parents’ generation, and modern music to satisfy your friends’ tastes.

3. Not Trusting Your DJ or Live Band

A bride and groom's first dance at their wedding reception.

You’ve hired the DJ or band for their talent and expertise. While they definitely want to please you as their client and will work with you to make your wedding day sound exactly as you want, it’s a good idea to heed their advice and trust them. (More than likely, they’ve attended and played at more weddings than you!) They know which songs are crowd-pleasers and which ones are downers. They might even suggest playing some music or genres that aren’t your go-to. Loosen the reins a little and let them show you what they can do.

4. Choosing Songs with Inappropriate Lyrics

This might seem like a no-brainer, but don’t choose songs with lyrics that could offend your guests. It’s a classy move to select music that’s timeless and romantic rather than a recent bop that’s more apropos for a night club than a wedding reception. This doesn’t mean the tunes have to be slow and boring, but it’s a good idea to keep it clean at least for the first couple of hours of your reception, especially for young ears. If you want to add a little raunchy music, maybe keep it for later and/or the after-party.

5. Playing the Music too Loud or Not Loud Enough

A string quartet playing at a wedding.

You want your guests to hear the hard work of your music selection, but you don’t want to send them home with a pounding headache, either. Keep the sound levels reasonable, and don’t forget to do a soundcheck beforehand. If you can’t be there, enlist someone from your wedding party to be present for the soundcheck—you want to make sure that it’s a suitable level for you and not just what the DJ or live band says is best. Also, be conscious of where the speakers are, so they’re not too close or too far away from guests.

When it comes to choosing music for your wedding, don’t be afraid to mix it up and do ensure that there’s music running throughout your wedding at every momentous turn. By taking the time to do so, your guests are sure to have a wonderful and fun night.

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