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Wedding Music Ideas for Every Moment of Your Big Day (Plus a Free Checklist!)

Posted by Antoinette Abrahamsen on

Music plays a significant role in setting the vibe of a wedding, and nailing down the right tunes is a huge task! Between selecting the perfect songs for each moment of your big day and coming up with playlists that your guests will enjoy, the process can be overwhelming. We suggest you start planning your wedding music six months in advance. A little direction can be helpful which is why we created this guide with wedding music ideas for every moment of your big day. Don’t stress—we’ve got you covered!  

Perfect Music for Getting Ready for Your Wedding

Even if you’re with just a few people, the mood for getting ready for your nuptials is just as important as when all your guests arrive. While you get your hair and makeup done, you’ll probably be feeling all kinds of excited and anxious. The perfect music for getting ready for your wedding will consist of uplifting songs that compliment the mood while you giggle and sip champagne with your closest friends and family.

These are our picks for the primp and prep stage:

“Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” by Adele

“The Wire” by Haim

“Glamorous” by Fergie featuring Ludacris

“Can’t Hurry Love” by Diana Ross and The Supremes

“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys


Music to Play While Your Guests Arrive at the Ceremony  

As guests start trickling in, they’ll be taking in their first impression of your wedding aesthetic. Those who get there early may have a little time to kill, and you won’t want them to wait around in silence. When selecting songs to play while your guests arrive at the ceremony site, go for a “background music” vibe that won’t be too distracting. Many people opt for instrumental covers of popular songs or have a live musician play the melody of some softer tunes.

Here are some of our favorite songs for guest arrival:

“Halo” by Beyoncé

“L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole

“Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones

“Hallelujah” by Jason Castro

“Valerie” by Amy Winehouse


The Best Songs for Your Wedding Party Processional

When your bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl, and ring bearer walk down the aisle, there are a few directions you can go for music. Some opt for a more upbeat selection than the bridal processional song, but slower music is excellent too!

These are our top picks for the wedding party processional song:

“I’m Yours” by Vitamin String Quartet

“Lean On Me” by Bill Withers

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

“Where is My Mind” by Maxence Cyrin

“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys


Selecting the Perfect Bridal Processional Song

A lot of brides choose to walk down the aisle to a different song than the wedding party, but some opt to walk to a different part of the same song. This is totally up to you! Traditionally, the groom will be standing at the altar when the bride enters with her father, but modern weddings consist of countless variations of this. The perfect bridal processional song will be romantic, charming, and mellow. As with guest arrival and wedding party processional music, many brides opt for an instrumental cover of a well-known song.

Here are some of the best choices for your big moment:

“Despacito” by 2CELLOS

“I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Lauryn Hill

“At Last” by Etta James

“You are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne

“Bittersweet Symphony” by Vitamin String Quartet


Locking Down the Ideal Wedding Recessional Song

When the ceremony wraps up, the new couple will be the first to walk back down the aisle followed by the wedding party. As this is a celebratory moment, many people go for an upbeat song to set the tone for the festivities to come.

Here are our suggestions for a wedding recessional song:

“Fool for Love” by Lord Huron

“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac

“Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men

“If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” by Cat Stevens

“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” by Vampire Weekend

“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros


The Best Wedding Cocktail Hour Music

After exiting the ceremony site, your guests will usually head over to the reception venue for a cocktail hour. During this time, the wedding party and family will often gather for some photos. While your guests mingle over drinks and hors d'oeuvres, you’ll want them to enjoy some mood-setting cocktail music. This may consist of jazz, blues, country, indie, oldies, or more modern hits.

Check out our favorite wedding cocktail hour songs:

“I Got a Woman” by Ray Charles

“The Seed (2.0)” by The Roots featuring Cody Chesnutt

“Harvest Moon” by Poolside

“I Kissed a Girl” by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox

“Follow the Sun” by Xavier Rudd


How to Choose Your Bride & Groom Entrance Song

After photos and fresh-ups, the bride and groom will make their grand entrance into the reception. Some people choose to go classic, while others may select a goofier option or a song that is meaningful to the couple. Fun, romantic, upbeat, or slow, the choice is up to you!

These are some great ideas for wedding entrance songs:

“Soulful Strut” by Young-Holt Unlimited

Game of Thrones Theme Song

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder

“Dog Days are Over” by Florence + The Machine

“On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons


Wedding Dinner Playlist Ideas

The dinnertime music at your wedding will likely sound a lot like your cocktail hour playlist: classy, romantic, and mood-setting. The idea here is background music for a sit-down meal. Play around with your wedding dinner playlist to create the perfect ambiance.

These are our picks for wedding dinner music:

“Heartbeats” by José González

“Moondance” by Michael Bublé

“C'est Si Bon” by Louis Armstrong

“Sea of Love” by Cat Power

“Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John


Choosing the Best First Dance Wedding Song

It’s traditional for all guests to ogle the bride and groom during their first dance, but this doesn’t mean your song choice shouldn’t be personal. Similar to the grand entrance, some couples may select a funny song, while others will go with a more romantic option. Choose something that you and your partner both love and maybe think about a song that isn’t super long!

Here are our music ideas for your first dance:

“Love on the Brain” By Rihanna

“Does it Really Make a Difference” by Galactic featuring Mavis Staples

“I Wanna Do Bad Things With You” by Brian “Hacksaw” Williams

“You Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry

“Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison


Wedding Music Ideas to Get Your Guests on the Dance Floor

What’s a wedding without great dancing? Getting people on the dance floor after dinner can be tricky, but with the right song, your guests won’t be able to resist! To really get the party started, you’ll want to get all ages into the groove. Luckily, there are plenty of songs almost everyone loves that will get your guests up and moving.

These are our top choices:

“Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince

“The Twist” by Chubby Checker

“All Night Long (All Night)” by Lionel Richie

“Hey Ya!” by Outkast

“I Love It” by Icona Pop

“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher” by Jackie Wilson

“Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift

“Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO


How to Pick Your Father-Daughter Dance Song

The father-daughter or mother-son dance is a charming wedding moment, but selecting the right song can be tough. A lighthearted, yet sweet ballad will be perfect your father-daughter dance.

These are some of our favorite father-daughter dance songs:

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

“Rainbow Connection” by Kermit the Frog

“That’s My Daughter in the Water” by Loudon Wainwright

“Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Michael Bublé


Cake Cutting Music Ideas for Your ‘Sweet’ Moment

Some people choose to cut their wedding cake right after dinner, others opt for later in the evening, and some don’t have cake at all! If you do have a cake to cut, selecting a fun song can really add to the moment. You may want to choose a track that involves the words “sweet” or “sugar,” or maybe you want to go a completely different direction!

Here are a few cake-cutting songs to help get the moment right:

“How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You)” by Marvin Gaye

“Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies

“Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake

“Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap

“I Say a Little Prayer” My Best Friend’s Wedding Soundtrack


Music Ideas for the Bouquet & Garter Toss

The bouquet toss and garter toss are classic wedding traditions. Because of the naughty nature and silliness of these wedding moments, some couples choose to play it up with corresponding music. Choose music that will add to the giggly, yet competitive mood.

Here are some song ideas for the bouquet and garter toss:

“You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyoncé

Mission Impossible Theme Song

“American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz

“Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera


The Perfect Bride & Groom Send-Off Song

You want the celebration to end with a bang, don’t you? While choosing music for each moment of your wedding, be sure to round it out with the perfect bride and groom send-off song. As you head out with your new hubby, the right tune will help your family and friends bid you farewell.

These are our favorite wedding send-off tracks:

“Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson

“Kiss” by Prince

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen

“Us” by Regina Spektor

“Live Your Life” by T.I. featuring Rihanna

Wedding music is no minor detail—it’s something you want to get just right! We hope these wedding music ideas help you find the right songs for each moment of your big day.

Need a place to document your wedding song choices? Download our free Wedding Songs Printable Checklist here!

Free Wedding Songs Checklist

For more wedding planning inspiration, The Ring Boxes has you covered. We know weddings, and we know giddy brides. Each month, we handpick an assortment of wedding favors, accessories, planning tools, and beauty products and send them out to brides-to-be like yourself. Check out the monthly bridal subscription box from The Ring Boxes!


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