Choosing the music for your wedding reception:
Bridging the generation gap!

Elizabeth Greene

What a joy it is to know that you’ll be bringing all your closest family members and friends together to celebrate your wedding!  As you begin to contemplate the type of entertainment that you’ll offer your guests, it dawns on you that it will be no easy task to find the perfect wedding band or DJ that will please your entire crowd.  How can your band or DJ delight your parents without boring your friends? Can they perform at a volume that will make your friends want to jump up and dance without blowing your parents and their friends out of the room?

Striking the perfect balance of wedding music to please everyone can be difficult, but if you do enough research you will be able to find seasoned professionals who are used to entertaining people of every generation and musical taste.  Wedding Bands and DJs that are inexperienced can really miss the mark in this regard.  It takes a number of years of playing “out in the field” to become adept at working with a crowd to see what works and what doesn’t.

You can start your planning by doing some your research as to what songs and artists will please your parents and their friends.  Most likely, you already know what songs and styles of music will make you and your friends happy.  That’s the easy part!  Everyone loves to dance to familiar tunes that bring back their high school days.  Find out what songs were popular when your parents were growing up.  Hearing some of their favorite songs will make them feel young again and they will really appreciate your thoughtfulness at including “their music”.

If you spend some time listening to what your parents love to dance to, you will find songs that have broad appeal.  These are the songs to request that your band or DJ play.

There are two good approaches to mixing in the “older music”. One way to do this is to start out the reception “European style”, with lighter and older music that is played at a lower volume.  Show tunes, love songs, swing, big band music and oldies work well early in the night with this format.  Older relatives are less shy than friends, so they usually love to get out on the floor early.   Also, many of them have been to parties where “their music” has been left out or neglected, so that they will want to take advantage of a familiar favorite by getting up on the floor.

Later in the night, especially after dinner is completed, you can have your wedding band or DJ cut loose with the perfect mix of songs that you and your friends love.  If you add in a ballad here and there, everyone will have a chance to catch their breath, and those who have been “sitting it out” will have another chance to get up and dance!

Another way to keep everyone happy is to mix things up all night long.  As long as your band or DJ plays at a moderate volume, even the most upbeat music won’t be overbearing.  If you can, seat your older relatives at tables farther away from your band or DJ’s speakers.  Younger guests are less sensitive to volume and will object less to the higher levels of sound that will result from sitting in closer proximity to the sound system.

Be sure that any band that you consider has many years experience performing at wedding receptions and has an extensive song list.  The more extensive the list is, the more likely you will be able to choose the right mix of songs for your crowd.

Don’t assume that your DJ will have all the songs that you want without letting him or her know your preferences well beforehand.  Prepare your list and give it to your entertainers at least four weeks ahead of the party. In addition to requesting your favorite tunes, you can also mention which songs you do not want heard at your wedding reception. Clear communication with the bandleader or DJ is essential so that the appropriate music is played at your affair.

Your wedding day is your special day, but do not forget you are sharing it with many guests of various ages and musical tastes. With some careful planning and proper communication with your wedding entertainers, bridging the musical generation gap will become possible and significantly contribute to the success of your special day.


Be sure to read our other wedding planning articles:

Tips On Selecting a Wedding Band or DJ
by Elizabeth Greene

Capturing The Perfect Live Sound At Your Wedding
by Chris C.

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