Pack The Dance Floor With The Right Music

Pack the Dance Floor

The nuptials might have been lovely. Dinner might have been delicious. But if the dance floor of the reception isn’t lively, then the wedding was just par.

Putting some thought into selecting just the right music to accompany your special day can help set the tone of the party all night long.


Two things will narrow your search for entertainment immediately: space and theme.

Did you rent a hall, or are you keeping the reception a small garden party? Is the wedding traditional, or is everyone dressed like a punk rocker?

Answering the questions about space, you will know if there is enough room for a full-size band, a single guitarist or a disc jockey with a fog machine and lights.

Likewise, the questions about theme should give you clues to whether the music should be classic or contemporary.

And remember this: People need an area to dance and an area to breathe without the music being too loud.

While your favorite friends from college might be dropping in, grandparents and kids still need a refuge from the madness.

Live vs. disc jockey

The question of live vs. recorded music is a personal preference. Most people would prefer to have live music, but not all people can afford to book U2 for the weekend.

So, if you have a very specific set of songs in mind, a disc jockey might be the best answer. A quality DJ can bring in a professional sound system and lights to provide a more nightclub atmosphere to your wedding reception.

Hiring a live musician can bring a sense of originality to a wedding. For example, if a wedding calls for a certain ethnic flavor, the music should likewise be cultural.

Gregor MacGregor is a traditional bagpipe player who has been working in Northern Michigan since his first wedding at Petoskey’s St. Francis Xavier Church in 1965.

“Most people don’t know the names of the songs, but they recognize them as traditional Scottish tunes,” MacGregor said. “There is something about having the instruments there that gets people into the moment. I don’t think there is anything that compares.”

MacGregor says he plays mostly outdoor weddings, where his kilt and tartan dress fit the reception atmosphere.

Song selection

Everyone has a new in-law in the crowd who would like nothing more than to hold an REO Speedwagon music-athon at your wedding. So, when using a DJ, be sure to have a set list of music and to only allow time for a few requests.

Many couples create a set of songs for the wedding and burn copies for their guests. This gives family and friends a relative inexpensive keepsake. It is important to choose songs that compliment the bride and the groom, as well as match the big moment.

A good musician or DJ will have a long list of traditional songs to be played at classic moments, such as the first dance or the father and bride dance.

Whether you want Bach or Green Day will be up to you.


Music can be one of the cost saving areas of a wedding. Professional disc jockeys range in price from about $100 an hour an up. Live musicians likewise have a ranging scale based on their notoriety, experience and ensemble. A large band can easily charge several thousand dollars.

But, ultimately, the music has to provide both entertainment and an addition to the other events at the wedding. So, if music isn’t a big focus of your agenda, it shouldn’t be a large portion of your budget. However, if you’ve planned a massive party of a reception, then you’d better bring the jams.

Top 10 classic wedding songs

as listed by

• Last Dance, Donna Summer
• New York, New York, Frank Sinatra
• Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Green Day
• From This Moment On, Shania Twain and Bryan White
• Save The Best For Last, Vanessa Williams
• Wonderful Tonight, David Kersh
• Could I Have This Dance, Anne Murray
• You’re Still The One, Shania Twain
• Closing Time, Semisonic
• Unforgettable, Nat King Cole/Natalie Cole

More local entertainment options

James Greenway, “One Man Band,”
DJ’s North,
Pluister Entertainment DJ service,
Gregor MacGregor,
Mike Davis Trio,
Creative Cottages Young Musicians,

Check the PhoneGuide for additional options.


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