real wedding photo by roey yohai studios new york city wedding cipriani 25 broadway live band performing purple lighting

8 Ways to Maximize Your Wedding Music

Expert tips for enhancing the musical experience at your wedding reception.

Gather tips on how to make sure the music at your wedding celebration not only sets the tone for the festivities but also keeps friends and family on the dance floor all night long.

real wedding photo by roey yohai studios new york city wedding cipriani 25 broadway live band performing purple lighting
Photo: Roey Yohai Studios

Choosing the right musical talent will not only make your wedding fun and memorable, it will leave your guests with a lasting, wonderful impression in their minds. However, while careful selection of talent is key, there are other nuances that contribute to the overall success of the musical experience you provide for your guests.

Here are some tips that will help maximize the benefits of the right music for your wedding celebration:

Cha-Cha First Dance

Photo by Christine Bentley Photography; From Real Wedding: Real Housewives of Orange County: Tamra Barney's California Wedding

1. Work with Professionals

When planning the music for your special day, surround yourself with genuine, caring, reputable music experts who have experience specifically with weddings. They will ensure the music will represent your taste and style, as well as appeal to all of your guests. Music will make or break your celebration, so allocate a generous amount of time, attention, and funds to this aspect, and your overall wedding experience will be harmonious and inspired!

2. Provide a Timeline

The right wedding timeline is key, so ensure that the reception will flow smoothly by following a general schedule that provides some structure to the event and keeps things interesting. The band leader and maitre d’ should be aware of the timing in advance so all events are synchronized, including the meal service, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc. Timelines are a framework to help all vendors coordinate their activities, and are often adjusted the evening of the reception to accommodate the actual flow of events. True professionals are flexible with timing, which will enhance the overall experience of your guests.

3. Set the Tone Early

Playing upbeat music at the start of the reception creates an excitement and energy that enlists guests as participants rather than spectators. Having guests enter the room while the best musical selection is being played starts the reception off right. It only takes about 15 minutes to set the vibe, but if done correctly with wedding music and entertainment, it creates a magical effect where all guests feel moved by the music to experience and contribute to the fun.

4. Include a Variety of Genres

Playing a wide range of musical styles makes a wedding reception interesting, exciting, elegant, and fun. Blending generations and genres creates contrast, which holds the attention of all of your guests to create the ultimate wedding playlist. Since you may have two or three generations present at your reception, it is thoughtful to include universally appealing, familiar, upbeat music to get guests of all ages dancing. It's a good rule to avoid music that has sad, negative or inappropriate lyrics - the songs with upbeat, positive lyrics pack dance floors!

5. Consider Volume Control

Ensuring that the music is at a comfortable sound level is extremely important. Music that is too loud may drive your guests into the foyer to get some relief, and that often leads to an early exit, thinning out your party. Make sure that your musicians are trained in “Social Music” and understand the perfect volume, so your guests can converse, dance, and feel comfortable doing either.

6. Adjust Song Length

Songs should be a little shorter than the recorded version to keep guests interested. Bands will often make the mistake of playing the full version of a song that is repetitive. When this happens, guests may get bored and leave the dance floor before the band ends the song. The goal is to have the music played in a way that keeps guests joining the party on the dance floor, building energy and excitement in the room.

7. Keep the Music Continuous

Similar to the soundtrack of a great movie, the continual flow of the most appropriate selection and volume of music throughout your reception creates a sense of elegance during your meal service and builds excitement throughout the evening. Continuous music also creates an opportunity for dancing between courses. This format builds momentum, avoids lulls in the energy, and creates the perfect setting for inspiring your guests to celebrate.

8. Communicate the Dress Code

Appropriate attire on musical talent brings everything together. The look of the band is almost as important as the sound. The talent’s attire and overall presentation should always match the level of formality of your event. Avoid bands that have female vocalists in dresses that are immodest or more suitable for a nightclub. Unless you are going for a theme (e.g., beach, 1940s glamour, etc.), professional wedding-music experts should ensure that the look is appropriately elegant, represents your style, and works well with the feel of your surroundings.

For more wedding music and entertainment ideas, read an expert's tips for curating your wedding reception music, find out what songs to play during the reception dinner, and get ideas for other ways to entertain wedding guests besides dancing!

Opening photo by Nicolas Manassi for Roey Yohai Studios; From Real Wedding: Romantic Wedding with Unique Florals & "Mad Men" Vibe in New York