There are a lot of “special moments” during your wedding ceremony and reception for which you will need to choose a special song. It can be difficult to think of the perfect song when under pressure. I recommend that you begin thinking about this well in advance of your wedding. You can even start before you’re engaged!
Whenever you hear a song that you think might be a possibility for a special wedding moment, write it down. The Notes app on your phone, or Evernote, are good places to keep this list so it’s always with you.
You and your spouse-to-be should both keep a list, and then you can compare notes during wedding planning. If a particular song appears on both lists, that’s a keeper for sure!
Here are the special moments you need to focus on as you begin to make your list:
TL;DR here’s the video version
1) Processional (seating of parents and grandparents): not everyone chooses to make this a formal part of the ceremony, but if you do, it’s nice to have a particular song picked out. Usually a quiet instrumental or classical piece of music is appropriate.
2) Processional (wedding party): this is the music that will play as your bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honor, best man, ring bearer, and flower girl walk down the aisle. Again, a quiet instrumental or classical piece of music is a nice choice.
3) Processional (groom): most couples don’t choose particular music just for the groom, but if he has a certain song he’d like played, then by all means include it. If you do have a special song for the groom, I recommend not having a separate song for the seating of parents and grandparents. Too many song changes can feel jarring to your guests.
4) Processional (bride): the bride always gets a special song! There are a lot of “classic” options, but feel free to express your personality. But it should still be something reasonably calm—this is not the place for up-tempo dance music.
5) Recessional (walking out after the ceremony): this is the place for up-tempo music. Something celebratory and upbeat.
6) Grand entrance (announcing the couple into the reception): if you are including your wedding party in the grand entrance, you can choose one song for them and a different song for yourselves. Both should be upbeat party songs.
7) Cake cutting: anything you want!
8) First dance: a meaningful song is often a nice choice. If you are choreographing a dance, be sure to practice repeatedly with the actual song you will be using. And keep it under 3 minutes, which may require some editing.
9) Bride/Father dance: again, something meaningful is appropriate. Discuss with your father to make a choice. As with the first dance, you’ll want something under 3 minutes.
10) Groom/Mother dance: many moms will already have a song in mind, so check with her first. And again, you’ll want it to be under 3 minutes. Anything longer just feels too long.
11) First “party” song of the night (optional): you might want to let your DJ choose, or you might have something in mind.
12) Money or Dollar Dance (optional): if you’re doing this, you’ll need several songs, depending on how long you’d like the dance to last.
13) Bouquet toss: Single Ladies by Beyoncé is the most common song for this, but feel free to be original.
14) Garter toss: you can choose two songs here, one for the removal and one for the toss, or just use one.
15) Last song of the night: do you want to end on a raucous, celebratory note, or a quiet, sweet note? Choose accordingly.
Good luck and have fun selecting your songs! Maybe you’ll want to create a playlist of them so you can re-live your wedding day long after the fact.
Further Reading: Struggling to decide between a band and a DJ? Read this post for some help!