Crafting the Perfect Play List

By Nora Heston Tarte

Music sets the tone for your wedding day. It’s the soundtrack that’ll play in the background as you and your spouse spend your first moments as husband and wife. From saying, “I do” to sharing your first dance, those minutes will be punctuated by the songs you choose to make up your wedding day mixed tape. Because music offers such a powerful connection to emotions, and sound is directly connected to memories, brides and grooms should think hard when crafting their playlist.

Marquis Harris, owner of Marquis Entertainment, says not to let your DJ take the reigns on song selection. He encourages couples to choose their favorites. If the bride and groom have different musical tastes, the DJ can help you find synergy. If you want to mix country and heavy metal, it can be done.

After you search iTunes, listen to sample CDs and highlight favorites from a DJ-provided list of numbers, move on to organization. There are several different breaks in your day. The music you choose for the pre-ceremony and arrival portion of the evening will likely differ from the bridal party introduction songs and dancing music that takes you into your reception.

If there is a special song you want to include, make sure you’re getting what you ask for. “Make sure the song you selected for any special dance is reviewed ahead of time with the DJ. There are many different artists and versions to any given song nowadays so you want to be on the same page,” suggests Frank Gallardo, owner of Exclusive DJ.

It’s common to select symphonic music to accompany cocktail hour, and then amp up the volume, and the energy, at the reception. Harris said he doesn’t put a lot of restrictions on a couple’s choices because the music should reflect their personalities, but he does opt for edited versions of songs with explicit lyrics. If you have your heart set on a hip-hop number that may offend your grandmother-in-law, try taking it instrumental. Removing the lyrics is one way to make your favorite song wedding day-appropriate.

Don’t forget to take into consideration your theme. If you are having a classic Catholic ceremony, the music should match the mood. If your wedding is more of a backyard hootenanny, choose tunes that reflect the fun, playful spirit of the day. If nothing else, make it your own.

Also consider a “do not play list” to hand off to your master of ceremonies. Is there a song that makes your skin crawl every time it comes on the radio? Write it down and tell your DJ. You can skip the “Chicken Dance” and “YMCA” if you want to.

Feeling stumped? Get inspired by some popular wedding selections. Harris says marriage-themed songs like Train’s “Marry Me” and Bruno Mar’s “Marry You” are often requested. Or go retro with The Dixie Cups’ “Going to the Chapel of Love.” Want something fun for the bouquet toss? “Single Ladies” is a trendy tune.

Top 10 First Dance Songs

  • All of Me – John Legend (2013)
  • Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton (1978)
  • The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra (1964)
  • At Last – Etta James (1961)
  • Marry Me – Train (2010)
  • What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (1967)
  • Marry You – Bruno Mars (2011)
  • I’m Yours – Jason Mraz (2008)
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley (1961)
  • God Gave Me You – Blake Shelton (2010)

list from

Ask a professional:

Marquis Entertainment

2235 Hacienda Dr., Stockton
(209) 951-1982


Exclusive DJ

9025 Barbaresco Cir., Stockton
(209) 229-4106




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