Wedding Day Playlists


I keep getting asked about the best songs for wedding receptions!

Not just from my own clients, but also from friends getting married, or people just thinking about getting married and dreaming about the ultimate playlist.

Perhaps my reputation proceeds myself — I was a college radio DJ and spent many years crafting playlists and mixtapes for friends. I’ve done my fair share of crate digging, and for your wedding day, I recommend this formula:

Songs that you, personally, love more than anything; songs that mean a lot to you and your partner


Obscure songs that have an excellent beat/groove and anyone can dance to them


Hits from the past 60 years (your mileage may vary!)

If you choose to hire a wedding DJ, they’ll have your back on those last two groups of songs, and all you’ll have to do is let them know the handful of songs that you want for special dances. (E.g.: First Dance, Dance with Parents, Dance with Grandparents, Dance with All Our Friends, whatever you choose to do.)

But if you’re planning your wedding music with a more DIY approach, you’ll have to put a little more work into it! Your DIY options for saving $$ when it comes to music are basically having a friend DJ (which can be fun, but also “puts your friend to work” on your wedding day), or having an iPod play through a playlist (crazy risky, but you can mitigate the risk by planning out a sweet playlist in advance).

In any case, I’m a total nerd for music, so even though I hired a wedding DJ for my wedding, I still gave them a Word document full of song titles. It was multiple pages. Broken down by year and genre.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing that — I knew all the songs I had on my playlist, and was bummed when I didn’t get to hear them during busy parts of the day — it’s good to have the kind of music you like in mind when you meet your DJ (or helpful friend) for your consultation.


my personal wedding day playlist

ceremony / first dance

Here are the songs that personally mean a lot to me and my partner:


For this small section, it’s a great opportunity to bust out the ballads and anything else with a slower BPM. (If you have several favorite ballads, consider placing one in the ceremony processional or recessional, or making sure there’s a moment near the end of the night when you get to have another intimate slow dance moment.)

For the rest of the playlist, you’ll want to keep the energy up!

dance party

Here are lesser-known songs that are GUARANTEED to make people dance:

And here are the best hits to get people moving:


  • “Shout” - I’ve heard this one million times and I still go nuts for it

  • “Jump the Line” - Harry Belafonte

  • “Higher and Higher” - Jackie Wilson

  • “Be My Baby” - Ronettes

  • “Land of 1000 Dances” - Wilson Pickett

  • “Gloria” - Shadows of Knight

  • “Gimme Just a Little More Time” - Chairmen of the Board

  • “Twist n Shout” - The Beatles

  • “Tequila” - The Champs

  • “Lowrider” - WAR

  • “Think” - Aretha Franklin (the Blues Brothers version kicks it up a notch!)

  • “Signed, Sealed & Delivered” - Stevie Wonder



  • “Get Down On It” - Kool & the Gang

  • “September” - Earth Wind & Fire

  • “We Are Family” - Sister Sledge

  • “Got to Be Real” - Cheryl Lynn

  • “Rock Lobster” - B-52s

  • “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” - War

  • “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” - McFadden & Whitehead

  • “Peg” - Steely Dan

  • Move On Up” - Curtis Mayfield

  • “Stayin’ Alive” / “Night Fever” - Bee Gees

  • “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” - Elton John

  • “Don’t Stop Me Now” - Queen

  • “Take a Chance on Me” - ABBA



  • “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” - Whitney Houston

  • Nothing But Flowers” - Talking Heads

  • “You Make My Dreams (Come True)” - Hall & Oates

  • “Love Come Down” - Evelyn Champagne King

  • “Come on Eileen” - Dexy’s Midnight Runners

  • “Gloria” - Laura Branigan

  • “Upside Down” - Diana Ross

  • “Kiss” - Prince

  • “Pump Up the Jam” - Technotronic



  • “Wannabe” - Spice Girls

  • “Suavamente” - Elvis Crespo

  • “Mambo No 5” - Lou Bega

  • “No Diggity” - Blackstreet

  • “Gonna Make You Sweat” - C&C Music Factory

  • “Tubthumping” - Chumbawumba

  • “Emotions” - Mariah Carey

  • “Dreams” - The Cranberries

  • Lovefool” - The Cardigans

  • “Sandstorm” - Darude



  • “Work It” - Missy Elliot

  • “Dancing on My Own” - Robyn

  • “Timber” - Pitbull/Kesha

  • “We Found Love” - Rihanna

  • “Latch” - Disclosure

  • “Since U Been Gone” - Kelly Clarkson

  • “Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO

  • “Call Me Maybe” - Carly Rae Jepsen

  • “Level Up” - Ciara

  • Old Town Road” - Lil Nas X (2019 BABY!)


Beyonce (a category of her own)

  • Crazy in Love

  • Love on Top

  • Drunk in Love

  • Flawless

  • Countdown

  • 7/11

  • Halo

Any more “must plays” for wedding playlists that I’m missing? Let me know!