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The Only Wedding Reception Playlist You’ll Ever Need

May 11, 2023

Ah, the reception! The par-tay central! Of course, the wedding ceremony itself is beautiful and sentimental, and who doesn’t love a good cocktail bar? But the party happens at the reception! Let’s be honest, everyone loves the delicious food, free-flowing drinks, great company, and of course the wedding reception music! The wedding reception playlist has the potential to make or break the party for some guests. 

Wedding reception playlist | Brit Rader Photography

There’s somewhat of an art to creating the perfect wedding playlist. You should include a variety of genres and mix up the pace between fast and slow beats. Make sure you get a head start on it well before your wedding day. I suggest exploring different playlists and music as you go about your day. Add songs periodically as you find ones you enjoy or that have sentimental value to you. 

Creating a playlist for your wedding reception is a fun low-pressure part of your wedding planning. Your DJ may take care of a lot of the music curation. But you and your partner may still want to pick the songs of your special dances and pick out any must-play or do-not-play songs for the reception. You get to create a compilation of music that mixes together songs you like, songs that are meaningful to you and your significant other, and songs your guests will like and all can dance to. 

Besides general music to play throughout the reception, there are some songs you’ll specifically want to plan out. I’ve put together songs for each special wedding dance to inspire you as you put together your own wedding playlist.


Wedding reception playlist | Brit Rader Photography

If you’re more traditional, you’ll like walking down the aisle to “The Bridal Chorus” (Here comes the bride), Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, or “The Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn. Arguably the most recognizable wedding songs of all time. I, on the other hand, am not very traditional. I chose a song I treasured to walk down the aisle to. That’s why I’ve included non-traditional yet still romantic choices to play as you walk toward your future spouse. 

Tightrope by Michelle Williams from The Greatest Showman soundtrack 

“Some people long for a life that is simple and planned / Tied with a ribbon / Some people won’t sail the sea ’cause they’re safer on land / To follow what’s written / But I’d follow you to the great unknown / Off to a world we call our own / Hand in my hand / And we promised to never let go / We’re walking a tightrope / High in the sky / We can see the whole world down below / We’re walking a tightrope / Never sure, never know how far we could fall / But it’s all an adventure / That comes with a breathtaking view / Walking a tightrope / With you ooh, ooh, ooh”

This was the song I chose for my processional. I walked down the aisle alone and John met me halfway, approximately around the “hand in my hand” lyric. Then we finished the walk together. This felt symbolic of our relationship to me. It all still gives me goosebumps. I tend to think of this moment and song as “our song” just as much as I do our first dance song. 

Here are some more wonderful songs to walk down the aisle to. 

You’re Still the One by Shania Twain

“When I first saw you, I saw love / And the first time you touched me, I felt love / And after all this time / You’re still the one I love, mmm, yeah-yeah / Looks like we made it / Look how far we’ve come, my baby / We mighta took the long way / We knew we’d get there someday”

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

“I took my love, I took it down / I climbed a mountain and I turned around / And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills / ‘Til the landslide brought me down”

All of Me by John Legend

“’Cause all of me loves all of you / Love your curves and all your edges / All your perfect imperfections / Give your all to me, I’ll give my all to you / You’re my end and my beginning / Even when I lose, I’m winning / ‘Cause I give you all of me / And you give me all of you, oh-oh”

Marry Me by Train

“Forever can never be long enough for me / To feel like I’ve had long enough with you / Forget the world now, we won’t let them see / But there’s one thing left to do / Now that the weight has lifted / Love has surely shifted my way / Marry me / Today and every day”

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole 

“Somewhere over the rainbow / Way up high / And the dreams that you dreamed of / Once in a lullaby / Oh, somewhere over the rainbow / Blue birds fly / And the dreams that you dreamed of / Dreams really do come true, ooh-ooh”

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

“One step closer / I have died everyday waiting for you / Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you / For a thousand years / I’ll love you for a thousand more”

For the recessional, you can pick the song up where you left off, or play it again. Now, the processional and first dance songs really could be interchangeable, but alas, let’s move on to the first dance!

First Dance

Wedding reception playlist | Brit Rader Photography

Your first dance song is one of the most important music selections you’ll make for your reception. After all, the music of your first dance will likely become “your song”. The first dance is one of my favorite parts of a couple’s wedding day. They get to be close together and unbothered for a few minutes of the day. Naturally, you should spend time selecting the ideal song to commemorate the momentous occasion. 

The Black Tux conducted a survey where they found the most popular first dance song to be “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers. Other popular artists included John Legend, Frank Sinatra, and Elton John. 

Don’t worry if the top charts aren’t your thing. I’ve put together a collection of first-dance wedding music that is anything but standard. Whatever your preference, pick a song that you and your spouse will both adore and treasure for years to come. 

Two Is Better Than One by Boys Like Girls

So maybe it’s true/That I can’t live without you/And maybe two is better than one/But there’s so much time/To figure out the rest of my life/And you’ve already got me coming undone/And I’m thinking two is better than one”

Speechless by Dan and Shay

(This is mine and my husband’s first dance song, so it’s extra special to me.)

I’m speechless/Starin’ at you, standin’ there, in that dress/What it’s doin’ to me, ain’t a secret/’Cause watchin’ you is all that I can do/You already know that you’re my weakness/After all this time I’m just as nervous/Every time you walk into the room/I’m speechless”

I Was Made For Loving You by Tori Kelly and Ed Sheeran

Hold me close, through the night/Don’t let me go, we’ll be alright/Touch my soul and hold it tight/I’ve been waiting all my life”

Close Your Eyes by Michael Buble

You’re an angel dressed in armor / You’re the fair in every fight / You’re my life and my safe harbor / Where the sunsets every night”

In Case You Didn’t Know by Brett Young

“In case you didn’t know/baby I’m crazy ‘bout ya/And I would be lyin’ if I said/That I could live this life without ya/Even though I don’t tell you all the time/You had my heart a long long time ago”

Everything by Michael Buble

And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times/It’s you, it’s you, you make me sing/You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything”

Perfect by Ed Sheeran

“Baby, I’m dancing in the dark/With you between my arms/Barefoot on the grass/Listening to our favorite song/When I saw you in that dress, looking so beautiful/I don’t deserve this/Darling, you look perfect tonight”

I Can’t Wait (Be My Wife) by Runner Runner

“’Cause I can’t wait for you to be my wife/To live this life together/And I won’t let you go/I need you to know/That you are my heart, forever”

Father/Daughter Dance

The father-daughter dance is always such a sweet, heartwarming moment. Traditionally, it’s the second dance of the wedding reception, immediately following the first dance between the newlyweds. Your father-daughter dance could be with your own father but, of course, you can choose to share this special moment with any other special person in your life whom you have seen as a father figure. 

When choosing a song for your father-daughter dance, make sure you pick a song that speaks to you emotionally. This can be a little tricky, considering the plethora of options out there! To help you, here’s a list of my favorite songs for this tender moment. 

Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman

“So I will dance with Cinderella/While she is here in my arms/‘Cause I know something the prince never knew/Oh, I will dance with Cinderella/I don’t want to miss even one song”

Daughters by John Mayer

“On behalf of every man/Looking out for every girl/You are the God and weight of her world/So fathers, be good to your daughters/Daughters will love like you do”

I Loved Her First by Heartland

“From the first breath she breathed/When she first smiled at me/I knew the love of a father runs deep/And I prayed that she’d find you someday/But it’s still hard to give her away/I loved her first”

My Little Girl by Tim McGraw

“I turned around and you’ve almost grown/Sometimes when you’re asleep/I whisper I love you in the moonlight at your door/As I walk away, I hear you say/Daddy love you more”

Dream Big by Ryan Shupe & The Rubberband

“And when you laugh, be sure to laugh out loud/Cause it will carry all your cares away/And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself/And it will help you feel okay”

My Wish by Rascal Flatts

“I hope you never look back, but you never forget/All the ones who love you, in the place you live/I hope you always forgive, and you never regret/And you help somebody every chance you get”

I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack

“Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens/Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance/And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance/I hope you dance”

Mother/Son Dance

Traditionally following the father-daughter dance comes the mother-son dance. This is a nice opportunity for the groom to thank and recognize his mother or any mother figure in his life. And let’s face it, mom has been looking forward to this moment for a while. 

Wedding reception playlist | Brit Rader Photography

Finding the perfect song for the mother-son dance might be challenging. When choosing music, think about musicians, genres, or experiences that both the mother and son adore. Here are some of my favorites to inspire your mother-son song search. 

Simple Man by Lynard Skynrd
Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast / Troubles will come and they will pass / You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love / And don’t forget son, there is someone up above”

93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz

“Oh, my my how beautiful, oh my beautiful mother / She told me, / “Son in life you’re gonna go far / If you do it right you’ll love where you are / Just know / Wherever you go / You can always come home”

Mom by Meghan Trainer

“You might have a mom, she might be the bomb / But ain’t nobody got a mom like mine / Her love’s ’til the end, she’s my best friend / Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine”

Mother Like Mine by The Band Perry

So the wars would all be over / ‘Cause she’d raise us all as friends \ And no one would ever wonder if somebody wanted them \ We’d walk on grass that’s greener \ And our cares would all be freer \ If the world had a mother like mine”

How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding

How long will I love you / As long as stars are above you / And longer if I can / How long will I need you”

Wedding Party Dance

Every couple wants to host a fun wedding! Naturally, you want the cake to be delicious and the floral arrangements to be stunning. But your wedding is also a special occasion to showcase your dance skills. It’s a time to get everyone on the dance floor and enjoy celebrating your new union. 

Imagine the memories you’ll have of the group dances and the songs that make everyone get groovy on the dance floor. I’ve compiled some of the top wedding dance party songs for you below. These songs are guaranteed to even get grandma and grandpa out grooving on the dance floor! 

  • Good Day for Marrying You by Dave Barnes
  • Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah) by Andy Grammer
  • Accidentally In Love by Counting Crows
  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houton
  • Timber by Pitbull, Kesha
  • Crazy in Love by Beyone, JAY-Z
  • Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis
  • DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love by Usher, Pitbull
  • Hey Ya! by Outkast
Wedding reception playlist | Brit Rader Photography

And, love them or hate them, line dances are a great way to get people out on the dance floor. When guests know the moves and they don’t have to make up their own, they’re often more willing to go out there for a song. This is a great way to get people warmed up and comfortable being out on the dance floor. Here are a few classics and a few more modern dances to play at your reception: 

  • Cupid Shuffle by Cupid
  • Electric Slide by The Hit Crew
  • Cha Cha Slide by DJ Casper
  • Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain
  • Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex
  • Footloose by Kenny Loggins
  • Fancy Like by Walker Hayes
  • The Git Up by Blanco Brown
  • The Wobble by V.I.C.
  • Old Town Road by Lil Nas X

Remember to have fun with the process of creating your wedding reception playlist. This should be one of the most fun parts! Ask friends and family who will be attending to share their input and ideas for songs they’d want to hear at your reception. 

If putting together a playlist feels a little overwhelming to you right now, I’ve got you covered! I’ve put together all the songs in this list and more into this playlist on Spotify. Follow the link to get access!

As an elopement and adventure wedding photographer, I’ve got your back on all things wedding related. You’ll want to make sure you hire a photographer who can capture all the emotions of the individual dances as well as the high energy and excitement of the dance party. Get in touch with me for a free wedding photography consultation. 

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