15 music mistakes to avoid at your wedding

By Julia Moore

Want to make sure the soundtrack for your wedding day hits all the right notes? Here are some common mistakes couples make when planning the music for their big day, and how you can best avoid them.

1 Putting off meeting your DJ/MC/band until the wedding

Whichever you choose – a DJ, MC or band – they will be the voice of your wedding. If you don’t get along with your MC or don’t like their style, it’s OK to find a new vendor. “It’s important for (the bride and groom) to feel comfortable with having that person represent the couple,” says Eric Robson of Alaska Professional Entertainment (APE). He admits, “I’m not going to be heartbroken.”

Have you seen your DJ in action and enjoy the vibe he brings? If you’re unsure, explore other options. There are a lot of other professionals in the market who may be a better fit. Plus, meeting your DJ lets you discover details you may not have even considered.

2 Not hearing the songs your DJ is going to play

Do you know how many versions there are of the song “And I love her,” originally by the Beatles? There’s a cover by Kurt Cobain, an instrumental version by Santo & Johnny, a cover by Barry Manilow, and even more. Lou Sizemore with R&R Productions Professional DJ Entertainment Lighting and Photography advises, “It can be the same song, it can even be by the same artist but a different version.”

Any song covering key moments, like the processional music, should be played so you know it’s the right version. Evelyn Sizemore with R&R Productions prompts, “What if (the bride and groom) pick the one from the 12-year-old violinist genius on YouTube?”

3 Providing too little feedback on the playlist

When reviewing songs with your DJ, make sure you go over your “do not play” list, which can rule out entire genres. Sometimes even one song could ruin the ceremony for the couple – like a song they shared with an ex or one that holds sad memories.

Evelyn says “They need to spend some time on that, because they may not know they don’t like a song until they hear it.” One of Evelyn’s brides was really flexible and said they love all music, but when “What a Wonderful World” was suggested, she immediately responded no. Her family had recently played that song at her grandmother’s service. Without this conversation, the DJ and MC would have never known.

4 Ignoring your music preferences

You are the client, and your voice should always be heard, whether your DJ thinks the idea is a little insane or can’t picture it. “It’s always the client’s choice,” says Evelyn. “They can walk down the aisle to the theme of Jaws if they want. A good entertainer finds a good time to start the song and end the song.”

If you have a vision, make sure you vocalize it, but keep an open mind to your DJ’s suggestions – they know how to get a crowd on the dance floor and if a song may fall flat.

5 Forgetting the guest experience

Even though the couple is the No. 1 client, song selection can’t just focus on their choices. “It’s also about their guests,” says Eric. “They have 100, sometimes 200 of their closest friends and family there.” One way to get guest input so that everyone will hit the dance floor is to ask for music suggestions on RSVP cards. With you and your guests’ input, you can trust your DJ to read the crowd and play music to get everyone up and moving.

6 Choosing inappropriate music

Do you really want to play cringe-worthy lyrics at your wedding? Will your guests be uncomfortable with your music choices? Will there be kids at the wedding? These are considerations you and your DJ should factor into music selection. “You’ve got couples that are like ‘Get Low,’ ” says Eric. “I don’t want to play that with grandma and the kids here.”

If you have a lot of older guests or children, it's respectful to keep the music in good taste and avoid certain types of songs. However, if you want to play explicit songs, wait until the kids and grandparents have left.

7 Ignoring lyrics for father/daughter mother/son dance songs

Mother/son and father/daughter dances are a way to really personalize your day, but pay attention to lyrics. “You don’t want to dance to a song with your mom when (it’s) talking about how you can’t wait to be with her tonight or the smell of her perfume,” says Evelyn. “How awkward, right?”

8 Not disclosing family complications with MC

Avoid awkward moments during the reception, like the bride’s distant stepdad being called “her loving daddy” – talk about the bride and groom’s family dynamics.

The mother/son dance can also be hard on a bride whose father isn’t in the picture – whether he’s passed away or the two are estranged. Make sure the bride will be ok if there is a mother/son dance. “I guarantee you, the last thing the groom wants is the bride crying because she wishes her dad was there or she feels like she missed out,” says Evelyn.

9 Under-preparing for surprises

Are you having a dance group come in with their own music? Avoid pops from scratched CDs or poor-quality songs by alerting your DJ to these wedding events. Your DJ can make sure there is high-quality music ready to go.

“Is someone coming to me and they want to sing a special song that’s going to be a surprise?” asks Evelyn. Even if the bride and groom don’t know about the surprise, your DJ should find out from the bridal party so the wedding music can run smoothly.

10 Picking a long song for the first dance

Are you having your first dance as bride and groom to your own special song? Consider how long it is before you decide. “You lose the crowd once you reach three to four minutes,” warns Eric. If you’re just swaying back and forth to the music, your guests might grow bored.

Talk about ways to work around this with your DJ if your heart is set on that song – maybe halfway through, you can have your bridal party join you on the dance floor to encourage guests to come dance.

11 Choosing a boring song for the couple’s grand entrance

Since the entrance is one of the first memories your guests will have at your reception, it's a good idea to put some thought into planning it. Your grand entrance music will help kick off the reception and set the tone for the night. Think high-energy. “You really want something that will create excitement,” says Eric.

12 Not rehearsing the bridal party procession

Having a random guest play the music may end horribly – if they imbibe a little before the ceremony, they could play the entirely wrong song or time it poorly. “With a wedding, you don’t get to re-do that. You want to make sure things have been rehearsed and somebody that’s controlling things knows and has practice,” says Eric. Rehearsing also ensures that you have a song the right length for the flower girl, who might be shy and take five minutes to walk down the aisle.

On the other hand, don’t over-practice or time the walk to the second – this just makes the processional awkward and unnecessarily stressful. Evelyn says, “Just walk naturally and enjoy yourself, and let the DJ pull the song in and pull the song out when appropriate.”

13 Placing the speakers or band away from the dance floor

“You want the music where most of the dance is going to be,” says Eric. If you place the speakers across the room from the dance floor, your dancing guests won’t be as pumped, and your dining and conversing guests won’t be able to hear each other.

14 Using Spotify or Pandora for your playlist

When using a music app, you never know what to expect. “Things can happen that you’re not ready for – the song could stop,” says Lou. “The song could have a commercial in it.” You could also have a spotty wireless connection and lose the signal, adds Evelyn.

15 Having silence during the reception

“I can’t tell you how many times people are like ‘We don’t really need music during the cake cutting,’ ” says Evelyn. “Well, that’s a long silence.” Silence can make these events seem longer than they are, whereas music can help set the mood. If you don’t want to choose these songs, trust your DJ to carry on the tunes.