Helpful Tips

Top Ten Wedding Band Questions

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

Wedding Music Resource Guide Part I – Ceremony Music

Wedding Music Resource Guide Part II – Wedding Songs

Wedding Song Suggestions-First Dance, Parent Dances, Entrance Music, Cake Cutting Song

 

 

TOP TEN WEDDING BAND QUESTIONS

So, you’re shopping for a wedding band this week. Here are the Top Ten suggestions of things to look for and questions to ask;

  1. Is the band a set band with the same musicians all the time?
  2. Does the band have its own name or is it a generic name used by other bands in the company?
  3. Do I get to meet the bandleader and go over everything in a face-to-face meeting, prior to my wedding? Or will it impersonal, done through emails and an online form?
  4. Will the bandleader be my point of contact?
  5. Do I get to choose songs and help plan the band’s playlist for my wedding?
  6. Is the band willing to learn songs that are not on their song list?
  7. Does the band play continuously including lighter music during the dinner courses?
  8. What is the instrumentation of the band? What options do I have to add or subtract musicians and vocalists?
  9. Will I get the musicians and vocalists that I see?
  10. What are my options for ceremony and cocktail music?

 

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.

Wedding Music Resource Guide Part I – Ceremony Music

WEDDING CEREMONY MUSIC IDEAS, TIPS & ADVICE

Once you get beyond the couple getting married and the love they share for each other, music is arguably the most important element of a wedding. Imagine walking into a wedding ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner reception without music. Definitely NOT!

There are many aspects to designing the music play list for a wedding, such as;

a) What type of instruments or music ensemble do we want to have for each element of the wedding? It can be different for the ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner reception.

b) Do we want a string quartet or a jazz trio for the ceremony?

c) Do we want a DJ or a live band for the dinner reception/party?

d) How many songs do we need to pick for our wedding ceremony?

e) How do we go about picking songs to dance to?

f) How many special songs do we have to or get to pick?

These are not all but, some of the most common questions asked.

Most of the answers to these questions are personal choices. Whomever you choose to run the music at your wedding will offer different options than another. Some musicians, bandleaders and DJs are more flexible than others. Some are defined by their own playlist.

In this blog we will address ceremony music

CEREMONY MUSICIANS: When it comes to ceremony musicians, most wedding couples choose either classical musicians or band musicians. Classical musicians are usually string instruments. For instance, a string quartet consists of two violins, one viola and a cello. Band musicians typically might be a keyboard/piano player with a flute player who also plays saxophone. If you add a bass player to that duo you have one type of trio.

Before you decide on either of the two choices above, I would recommend you get some ideas about which songs you want played. That may help direct you towards the instruments you need to replicate the music. For instance, there is a piece by English baroque composer Jeremiah Clarke, called Trumpet Voluntary. This piece sounds great with organ and trumpet.

Today, the lines are blurred. String quartets can play pop music by Billy Joel, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Journey, Coldplay and Bruno Mars. By the same token, band musicians play Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Vivaldi’s Spring from the Four Seasons and Air on a G String by Bach.

Here are some classical wedding ceremony suggestions:

Air On The G String – Bach

Bridal Chorus – Wagner – The Wedding March

Canon in D  – Pachelbel

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Mozart

Entremezzo – Mascagni

Guitar Concerto in D – Vivaldi

Hornpipe in D (From Water Music)- Handel

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

La Rejouissance – Handel

Ode To Joy – Beethoven

Spring from Four Seasons – Vivaldi

Sunrise Sunset – Fiddler on the Roof

Trumpet Voluntary – Clark

 

WEDDING MUSIC RESOURCE GUIDE PART II – Wedding Songs

I have done some research to find out which are the most requested songs for weddings. We looked at first dance songs, ceremony music choices and other special songs. Our company, New York Orchestras Entertainment is located in New York City. We do weddings in and around NY, NJ, CT, PA, VT and sometimes FL. Keep in mind that geographic locations have an affect on the song list. So, the wedding ceremony or first dances you choose may be different than these lists. It is YOUR wedding! These are just suggestions and you are free to be different.

Our data collection includes Spotify and Apple Music. Various websites and magazines have their own resources to compile their lists.

According to Spotify, the Top 3 First Dance Wedding Songs are;

1)      Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheerin

2)     At Last by Etta James

3)     You Are The Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne

Here is a link to Spotify’s Top 50 First Dance Wedding Songs

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2gq1cOIOXtrQsRPFbBxAPI

Apple Music has their own ideas about the “Top First Dance songs”. Here is their list:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/wedding-first-dance-songs-playlist/pl.633a64a80059427996070b1751d5d63b

According to “The Bridal Guide”, this is a list of the “Top 100 songs played at weddings”:

https://www.bridalguide.com/blogs/top-100-wedding-songs

The Knot has the “30 Perfect Wedding Songs for Parent Dances”

https://www.theknot.com/content/perfect-tunes-for-parent-dances

 

WeddingWire has a list; “How to Pick Wedding Ceremony Music That Suits Your Style”

https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/how-to-pick-the-right-wedding-ceremony-music

 

WEDDING IDEAS MAGAZINE’S “12 WEDDING CEREMONY SONGS – WALKING IN AND WALKING OUT”

HTTPS://WWW.WEDDINGIDEASMAG.COM/12-WEDDING-CEREMONY-SONGS-WALKING-IN-AND-WALKING-OUT/

Here are 20 dance party songs we found to be requested on a regular basis:

  1. Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
  2. Camila Caballo, “Havana”
  3. Coldplay, “Something Just Like This”
  4. Drake. “One Dance”
  5. Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk!”
  6. DNCE, “Cake by the Ocean”
  7. Aretha Franklin, “RESPECT”
  8. Sister Sledge, “We Are Family”
  9. Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing”
  10. Earth, Wind & Fire, “September”
  11. Whitney Houston, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”
  12. Spice Girls, “Wannabe”
  13. Backstreet Boys, “I Want It That Way”
  14. The Beatles, “Twist and Shout”
  15. Stevie Wonder, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”
  16. Frank Sinatra, “The Way You Look Tonight”
  17. Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”
  18. Montell Jordan, “This Is How We Do It”
  19. The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back”
  20. The Notorious B.I.G., “Hypnotize”

 

Wedding Song Suggestions-First Dance, Parent Dances, Entrance Music, Cake Cutting Song

As you plan your wedding you will have to choose songs/select music for various parts of the wedding.  As a bandleader I am always asked to recommend songs for the bride and groom’s first dance as husband and wife.  They also ask about parent dance songs, bridal entrance music and music to be played while the bride and groom cut their wedding cake. There are the popular songs and the ones that may raise your eyebrow and say, “that’s cool!” Below you will find many song recommendations on several song lists:

1) Bride and groom’s first dance
2) Parent dances: Bride’s dance with dad & Groom’s dance with mom
3) Bridal entrance song
4) Cake cutting song

Before you get married you will have a chance to choose your first dance song. This is the song you dance to with your spouse for the first time as husband and wife. There are many considerations:

Are you going to take dance lessons?
Do you have a song that has special meaning to both of you?
Will you choose a contemporary song (Ed Sheerin, Adele) or a traditional song (Frank Sinatra/Tony Bennett)?
Considering the length of the song, do you want to dance the whole song alone or add the guests in the middle of the song?

We have compiled this list from hundreds of weddings we have performed at. It is as varied as the brides and grooms we have played for. There are songs from a variety of artists ranging from Taylor Swift to James Brown, Michael Buble to Keith Urban, Elvis Presley to Sade and The Goo Goo Dolls to Camera Obscura. It’s your wedding and anything goes.

1) First Dance Songs
1,2,3,4 – Plain White T’s
Always – standard
Always & Forever – Heat Wave
Amazed – Lonestar
As Time Goes By – Casablanca Movie Soundtrack
At Last – Etta Jame
Beautiful In My Eyes – Joshua Cadison
Best Is Yet To Come – Frank Sinatra
Better Together – Jack Johnson
By Your Side – Sade
Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley
Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You – Frankie Valli/Lauren Hill
Close Your Eyes – Michael Buble
Come To Me – Goo Goo Dolls
Could I Have This Dance – Anne Murray
Crazy Love – Van Morrison
Endless Love – Lionel Richie
Everlasting Love – Natalie Cole
Everything – Michael Buble
Everything I Do – Bryan Adams
Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra
From This Moment On – Shania Twain
Have I Told You Lately – Morrison/Stewart
Here & Now – Luther Vandross
I Could Not Ask For More – Edwin McCain
I Finally Found Someone – Streisand/Adams
I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
I Love How You Love Me – Camera Obscura
I Only Have Eyes For You – standard
I Will – Beatles
I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
I’ll Be There – The Jacksons/Mariah Carey
I’ve Got You Under My Skin – Frank Sinatra
Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel
L.O.V.E. – Nat ‘King’ Cole
Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley/Norah Jones
Love Story – Taylor Swift
(Our) Love Is Here To Stay – Ella Fitzgerald/Louie Armstrong
Lucky – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
(The) Luckiest – Ben Folds
Make You Feel My Love – B Joel, Adele
Making Memories of Us – Keith Urban
Marry Me – Tran
My One and Only Love – John Coltrane
One In A Million You – Larry Graham
Nothing Can Change This Love – Sam Cooke
Perfect – Ed Sheerin
Power of Love – Celine Dion
Sea Of Love – The Honeydrippers
Something About The Way You Look Tonight – Elton John
Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
Stand By Me – The Drifters
Thank You – Led Zeppelin
That’s How Strong My Love Is – Otis Redding
That’s Where It’s At – Sam Cooke
These Are The Days – Van Morrison
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheerin
True Companion – Marc Cohn
Try Me – James Brown
Unforgettable – N. Cole
Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Whatever It Is – Zac Brown Band
Wonder of You – Elvis Presley
You Are So Beautiful – Joe Cocker
You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
Your Smiling Face – James Taylor
Your Song – Elton John
You’re All I Need To Get By – Marvin Gaye
You’re My Best Friend – Queen
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When you go over your music ideas, song list and details of your wedding with your bandleader or DJ, he/she will ask you about parent dance songs. Part of the ceremony or formality of a wedding reception is for the bride and groom to dance with their parents – the bride dances with her dad (father/daughter dance) and the groom dances with his mom (mother/son dance). There are exceptions to this as when a parent is deceased. In that case, an aunt or uncle or a brother or sister sometimes is a comforting substitute. Below are some suggestions for parent dance songs. In some cases the gender is obvious as in “My Girl” by The Temptations or “Father Daughter” by Paul Simon. Some songs you just have to listen to or read the lyrics to make that determination. Other songs are gender neutral such as “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. It’s always a good idea to speak to your bandleader or DJ to find out if he/she has some favorites.

Father/Daughter Dance & Mother/Son Dance Songs (Parent Dance Songs)
Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
Bless The Broken Road – Rascal Flatts
Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlyle
Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Elton John
Child of Mine – Carol King
Cinderella – Steven Curtis Chapman
Could I Have This Dance – Anne Murray
Daddy’s Little Girl – Al Martino
Father and Daughter – Paul Simon
Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra
Forever Young – Bob Dylan
Forever Young – Rod Stewart
Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston/George Benso
Have I Told You Lately – Van Morrison/Rod Stewart
I Am Your Child – Barry Manilow
I Hope You Dance – LeAnn Womack
I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
I Loved Her First – Heartland
I Will – The Beatles
I’ll Be There – The Jacksons/Mariah Carey
I’ve Got You Under My Skin – Frank Sinatra
In My Life – The Beatles
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel
Kind And Generous – Natalie Merchant
Lean On Me – Bill Withers
LOVE – Nat ‘King’ Cole
Lovely Day – Bill Withers
Love Is Here To Stay – Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong
Lullabye – Billy Joel
Mama – Boyz II Men
My Girl – The Temptations
My Little Girl – Steve Kirwin
My Little Girl – Tim McGraw
My Wish – Rascal Flatts
Something About The Way You Look Tonight – Elton John
Stand By Me – The Drifters
Sunrise Sunset – Fiddler On The Roof
Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
Thank Heaven For Little Girls – Maurice Chivalier
Through The Years – Kenny Rogers
Times of Your Life – Paul Anka
Unforgettable – N. Cole
Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
You Are My Special Angel – Bobby Helms
You Are So Beautiful – Joe Cocker
You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
You’ll Be In My Heart – Phil Collins
Your Smiling Face – James Taylor
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At some weddings the entire bridal party is introduced that includes parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid (or matron) of honor and best man. So, the question that is always asked is; “How many songs do we need to choose?” That answer may depend on how many people are being introduced.

I have found the two best ways to handle this is;
1) Choose a song for the entire bridal party and then a second song for the bride and groom, or…
2) Choose one song. Play the verse of the song for the bridal party and save the chorus for the bride and groom.

Bridal Party Entrance Music
All Night Long – Lionel Richie
Apache (Jump On It) – Sugarhill Gang
Beautiful Day – U2
Best Day of My Life – American Authors
Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
Bring Em Out – T.I.
Can’t Turn You Loose – Blues Brothers
Crazy In Love – Beyonce
Dance The Night Away – Van Halen
Enter Sandman – Metallica
Everlasting Love – U2/Gloria Estefan
Get Ready For This – 2 Unlimited
Get The Party Started – Pink
Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
Good Times – Chic
Highway To Hell – AC/DC
Holiday – Madonna
I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown
Let’s Get Loud – J-Lo
Let’s Get It Started – Black Eyed Peas
Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti
Love Train – The O’Jays
Marry You – Bruno Mars
My First My Last, My Everything – Barry
Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus
Raise Your Glass – Pink
Right Now – Van Halen
Rock and Roll All Night – Kiss
Rock & Roll Part II – Gary Glitter
Rock You Like A Hurricane – Scorpions
Say Hey – – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Sexy and I Know It – LMFAO
Sexyback – Justin Timberlake
Signed Sealed Delivered – Stevie Wonder
Simply The Best – Tina Turner
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
The Way You Look Tonight – Sinatra
Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Walking on Sunshine –Katrina/The Waves
Where The Streets Have No Name – U2
You’re My Best Friend – Queen
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Song suggestions while the bride and groom cut their wedding cake
Cake Cutting songs
1,2,3,4 – Plain White T’s
All of Me – John Legend
Best Day of My Life – American Authors
Better Together – Jack Johnson
Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones
Cake By The Ocean – DNCE
Grow Old With You – Adam Sandler
Cuts Like A Knife – Bryan Adams
Happy Together – The Turtles
Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
How Sweet It Is – James Taylor/Marvin
I Do – Colbie Caillat
I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
Ice Cream – Sarah McLachlan
Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel
Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
LOVE – Nat ‘King’ Cole
Love and Marriage – Frank Sinatra
Love Song – Sara Bareilles
Love Story – Taylor Swift
Marry Me – Train
Marry You – Bruno Mars
Meant To Be – Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgie Line
My Best Friend – Tim McGraw
One Way or Another – Blondie
Perfect – Ed Sheerin
Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
Say Hey – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Sugar – Maroon 5
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch – The Four Tops
Sugar Sugar – The Archies
Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
Sweetest Thing – U2
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheerin
This Love – Maroon 5
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
When I’m 64 – The Beatles
You and Me – Dave Matthews Band
You’re My Best Friend – Queen