Broke-Ass Tag: wedding playlist


Whoa, you guys. I’m getting married in six weeks! Six weeks from Friday, but, yeah, six weeks. We got an email from our venue requesting names and email addresses for all of our vendors the other day and I, um, started noticing some glaring gaps in our plans.

We’d tossed around several ideas for music and just never got anything nailed down. We were hoping for a live band, but as we got further into planning and realized maybe our budget isn’t going to be as high as we thought, paying four to six people for their talent looked like it was out of the cards. And DJs? Those folks get spendy and we kiiiinda waited too long to book one on short notice.

Enter, iTunes!

Fortunately, our venue has a sound system with an iPod dock allowing us to run our own music. It’s a really great option if you’re willing to devote a few days to building your playlist. I come from the generation that remembers mix tapes and I was a badass at putting together a tape that flowed in and out of different genres and tempos, so I saw this as an opportunity to make a really big mix tape collection that a.) tells our story, b.) entertains our guests with some happy dance jams and c.) doesn’t need a parental advisory for the more conservative guests. On it!


If you’re going to take on your own music, you’re likely putting three to five mixes together. For us, it’s the prelude, cocktail hour, post-entrance music, then the full reception dance party. Everything has a slightly different feel and sets the tone for that particular time of the evening. Our prelude music is soft and easily-digestible stuff with a swirly, romantic feel to give guests the warm fuzzies while they’re filing in to the chapel. During our cocktail hour, we picked some fun, jazzy sounds with a twist. Richard Cheese definitely shows up here. After we make our entrance and food is served, everyone needs some chill background music, but we wanted it to pick up the beat a little without being overwhelming. Then of course the dance party starts and things get fun!

3d printing party lights-1

If you’re going to tackle this yourself, pick special songs first. Are you walking down the aisle to something other than a traditional bridal march? Think about your first dance, a song you’d like to play while cutting the cake or dancing with your brigade — any of those points in the day where the music means something to you. Once you set a few songs that have a special meaning to you and your beloved, it’s much easier to build your playlist around that.

Of course, you don’t owe anyone their favorite song or artist, but if you get hung up, ask friends for some input. Set parameters like “no breakup songs” or “absolutely no Nickleback” to help them help you. Since weddings usually have a large age range, consider some older stuff for those aunts and uncles who still like to party, but aren’t quite down with David Guetta. Bands like The Beatles, Queen and Hall & Oates usually go over well with most people.

Take look at your day-of timeline and add a few extra minutes for each block of music. If you’re having a true cocktail hour, build an extra 15 – 20 minutes in for a buffer. I stacked my least favorite songs into that buffer so if they played, at least there was music, and if they didn’t, no heartbreak. Skipping a few songs isn’t a problem, but running out of music is!

Finally, arm a good friend with a schedule, a playlist and the pause button, then another with a microphone. Unless you are so awesome at scheduling that you can assemble a playlist with breaks and shifts and stay on it (please don’t count on that!), you’ll need someone to hit pause for the toasts or skip ahead to the cake cutting music. Label your playlists accordingly and go over everything ahead of time so there’s no confusion about where the music needs to go. Your buddy with the microphone (or booming voice) can make announcements that would otherwise be left to a DJ or band leader. It saves you money, plus you have a day perfectly customized to you and your sweetheart.

Are you saving money in the music department? What are your plans? Let us know in the comments!

  • 4/14

    I guess my fiancé and I are a little bit hipster: We brew our own beer and kombucha; we adopt old shelter dogs; we get our coffee from the local coffee bean roaster; and we’re vegetarians. Good indie and alternative music is also important to us so coordinating the entertainment for our wedding made us nervous. I found it hard to find a DJ that fit our style and budget. I was scared of booking an over the top greased up MC with a gold pinky ring who played the Chicken Dance and the Electric Slide!

    430979_807333719819_1977921532_nThe most hipster picture I have of us.

    After browsing DJs on Google in my area I was overwhelmed and surprised how expensive they were! Plus it was hard to grasp the personality and style of the different DJs via the Internet and phone. What ended up helping me choose our DJ was attending a wedding expo. They had tons of different entertainment vendors with a variety of styles and prices. Plus almost all the vendors were offering a show discount to book their services from attending the expo. I was able to talk face-to-face with over a half-dozen different DJs. I ultimately booked with one them a week later and saved 20% off the regular price. Plus I got the ceremony music fee waived!

    Now to the fun part: I am currently working on the music to play for the ceremony as well as “Play” and “Do NOT Play” list for the cocktail hour and reception. To do this, I created a private playlist on YouTube named aptly named “Wedding Songs” to share with my DJ. You could probably do this on Spotify as well. One of my favorite artists on my playlist is the Vitamin String Quartet. They arrange rock and pop songs to be played with string instruments which gives songs you know and love a classical, ethereal tone. One of my favorites is their cover of Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are”. Doesn’t it sound so beautiful?? I included some romantic indie songs such as “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes, “The Tourist” by Radiohead, “Welcome” Home by Radical Face and “Part One” by Band of Horses. I also collected some fun dance songs from Jay-Z, Rhianna and some 90’s pop of course! The YouTube has been super helpful in curating my perfect wedding playlist.

    Are you going with a band, DJ or doing your own music? How have you been building your playlist?

  • 7/31

    Music has been a mainstay in our relationship. Our first hangout was to see Justin's friend's band, and our first real date a local radio station's Christmas Festival (and featured Florence and the Machines and my life has never been the same). And on those nights when we weren't supposed to be seeing each other but we couldn't resist, we would sit around listening to music as I endlessly…

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