Successful wedding receptions come down to music and food.

Not really. But good lede, right?

Successful wedding receptions involve a lot of different elements and require them all to come together, to complement each other, to form a cohesive whole. In some ways, it’s like designing an entire restaurant, from the ground up, knowing it will be open for a single night. But it’s not just a restaurant, because it’s not just dinner.

Food’s another day. This is about music.

I’m a huge music fan. Well. Not really. I’m not a huge man. But I do love music. I have a go-jillion songs in my iTunes library. I have high quality earphones and am dying to pull the trigger on a new set of full-size cans.

I love a lot of different genres. My favorite artists are, interestingly, musicians who started in the late-80s and mid-90s with big bands and major labels but have since become independent acts: Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. Butch Walker & the Black Widows. Better Than Ezra may still be with a label. I’m not sure. But I still love their stuff.

But I love electronica, too. And dubstep. And classical–especially Beethoven and Vivaldi. I love rock, and some pop, and legendary musicians and emerging musicians and etc.

Which means, of course, I’m going to end up being picky about the music considered.

Of course, the reception isn’t the only part that requires music. There’s music during the ceremony, as well. There’s basically nothing traditional about my girl and me, and we realized long ago that we weren’t going to have traditional music at the ceremony. We rejected a few possibilities–for a minute or two, I thought it’d be neat if I walked down the aisle to the Star Wars theme.

Because yes, I’m walking down the aisle, too. I want to make an entrance, as well!

I was never committed to Star Wars and easily dissuaded, but we have other ideas. I’m not going to write about them yet; one day I’ll just tell you about the day and include those sorts of details.


One consideration is that we’re using live musicians for both ceremony and reception. We considered a DJ, but the sound in the venue we chose is complex, and best to go with someone familiar with it, and who can play to it. I can no longer remember the name of the band we chose, but I know we sorta crashed a separate wedding to check them out, and they had a great sound and skill enough to play a wide variety.

Which is what one needs. Variety.

Because the reception isn’t so much about listening to good music as it is dancing to said music, which is why we wanted a live band who knew the room well, and who could play to the crowd and make the crowd play back.

It is a party, after all.

And it’s a dance party, right? And there are songs one has to play.

(I’m trying to avoid the chicken dance. I’m hoping. I think if I concede the Electric Slideboogiewoogiewoogie I just might manage it.)

We’ll have all the usual suspects (The Jackson Five, Sly & the Family Stone, etc.). We’ll have a couple of unusual suspects.

What’s important is a good balance. Mostly fast songs with some slow numbers.

We definitely want a swing song or three (probably “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “In the Mood,” which always complement each other well).

We’ll be including a few of the usual dances. I’ll dance with my mother, though I don’t yet know to what. I’d like to avoid something totally cliche, if possible, but there aren’t really all that many applicable songs.

But I really think that, in the end, what people remember about weddings are the couple, the food, and the music. Those three elements seem to hold everything together most.


Given that I’ve called this a guide, I feel like there should be recommendations, but I’ve realized the most important thing is to talk to whomever you’re hiring, be they a full-on band or a single deejay. One of the most important considerations comes from the couple themselves; all things must complement the couple first, after all, and all variations come from the couple.

I’ve seen a lot of couples, for example, doing non-traditional dances. Kind of joke-y dances. The music stops and all of a sudden it’s Sir Mix-A-Lot and bride has got back (which seems odd to me. I’d never have considered “Baby Got Back” as a first-dance sort of song. But that’s just me. Like I said).

We’re not going to be doing that. We’ve discussed our options and come up with both a song and a dance that feel right for us.