How To Choose/Pick Music For Your Wedding-Song List

In doing my research and internet searches for this article I mostly found conceptual articles on “how to choose songs for your wedding”. This is NOT that! I want to provide you actual songs to consider (the best songs choices) for the band or DJ to play that will help create an awesome party!

If you are looking for song suggestions for the bride and groom’s First Dance, Parent Dances, Entrance Music or Cake Cutting Song suggestions click here.

I have seen wedding music trends change over the last 20 years. As a bandleader, I  always get requests for the classics that are crowdpleasers such as “Respect”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Signed Sealed Delivered”, “I Want You Back”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Twist and Shout”, “Start Me Up”, “Play That Funky Music”, “Old Time Rock and Roll”, “Proud Mary”, “All Night Long”, “Soul Man”, “We Are Family” and “Stayin’ Alive” for dancing. And some slower songs such as “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Fly Me To The Moon”, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “What’s Going On”, “Let’s Stay Together”, “At Last”, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, “My Girl”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “Piano Man” and “Tiny Dancer”. I continually to get requests for these songs.

The 1980s created new classics that came after the previously mentioned. The 80s genre classics include “I Want To Dance With Somebody”, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Livin’ on a Prayer”, “Like A Prayer”, “Summer of 69”,  “Billie Jean”, “September”, “1999” and “Kiss” by Prince, “You Make My Dreams Come True”, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, “Africa”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Dancing In The Dark”, “Glory Days” and “Jessie’s Girl”. If you have been in a bar in the last 20 years you have heard everyone singing every word to these songs.

In the 90s there were several different genres of music that are still played at weddings. I get requests for a diversified bunch of songs such as “I Want It That Way”  and “Everybody” – by Backstreet Boys, “Jump Around” – House of Pain, “Mo Money Mo Problems” – Notorious B.I.G., “Smooth” – Santana, “Hot in Herre” – Nelly, “This Is How We Do It” – Montell Jordan, “Wannabe” – Spice Girls and “What’s Up” – 4 Non Blondes. Talk about an eclectic mix!

Over the last 20 years some new classics have been popularized. That list includes “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce & Jay-Z, “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas, “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, “Rock Your Body” – Justin Timberlake,  “Marry You” – Bruno Mars, “Give Me Everything” – Pitbull, “You Are The Best Thing” – Ray LaMontagne and “Perfect” – Ed Sheerin.

There will always be a need for new or contemporary Top 40 Hits. The last few years have brought songs like “Uptown Funk”, “Shape of You”, “Can’t Stop The Feeling”, “Cake By The Ocean”, “Shut Up and Dance”, “We Found Love”, “Get Lucky”, “Happy”, “Shake It Off”, “One Dance”, “Raise Your Glass”, “Dynamite”, “24K Magic”, “Feel It Still”, “Feels So Close” and “Firework”.

Some songs run a cycle and come back. Songs like “Shout”, “I Will Survive”, “Celebration” “Brick House” and, “Sweet Caroline”. These songs had long runs of popularity and then became passe. Decades later you have a generation of people who never heard these songs and they are re-born. Or, there is a new Broadway show that brings songs back such as “Dancing Queen” from Mama Mia, “Oh What A Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” from Jersey Boys, “Last Dance” and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer and “Believe”, “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “I Got You Babe” by Cher.

If you like country music, there are lots of songs that have crossed over in the pop world such as “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker, “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band, “Life Is A Highway” – Rascals Flatts and “Friends in Low Places”. Several country songs are very common for parent dances and bride and groom first dances because of the lyrical content. Those are “Amazed” by Lonestar, “Bless The Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts, “Forever and Always” and “From This Moment On” – Shania Twain, “I Loved Her First” – Heartland, “In My Daughters Eyes” – Martina McBride, “It’s Your Love” – Tim & Faith, “Making Memories of Us” – Keith Urban, “My Wish” – Rascal Flatts, “My Best Friend” and “My Little Girl” – Tim McGraw and “My Little Girl” – Steve Kirwan.

At a wedding the age ranges greatly, therefore, some couples want a lot of classics from different eras. Some want to make their wedding different to include songs that are uncommon. I like that because the wedding becomes more personalized. When people hire me they are looking for guidance along with their input. It is teamwork. We work together choosing the right songs for their wedding. Then, what our team does is best is read the crowd in front of us. Running a wedding is a skill-set that develops over years. Learning how to react (selecting the right song at the right time) to the wedding guests in front of you is key.

NOTE: The author of this article, Bill Messinetti, is the founder of New York Orchestras Entertainment, Inc. He had over two decades of experience planning music and being a bandleader at weddings up and down the east coast of the USA.

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