Music to Strike A Chord

From the heart-melting first dance, to the long-awaited bouquet toss, there are songs to suit every wedding tradition. Emma Phillips speaks to Mike Nicols from Bondah about choosing music for the most important moments of your wedding day.

Your music selection is vital. It sets the mood and creates an infectious atmosphere for your guests. From the traditional processional tune, to fast-paced rhythms for your choreographed bridal party dance, music is the key to creating an unforgettable day.


Band or DJ?

The first decision you need to make when selecting your music is what type of entertainment you would like to hire. The age-old debate of whether to have a band or DJ at your wedding is one that will never cease.

When enquiring about your entertainment, make sure you’re aware of what’s included in your package before committing. If you require a dance floor, lights or a sound system, or if you need any other extras included, Nicols advises couples to let their music provider know prior to booking. “Our general quotes come with sound equipment as standard, but we provide extras on request,” he says.

Another aspect to consider is the size of the band, and this will vary depending on the company you book with. While some companies may be flexible, others will have a strict band size that cannot be customised. At Bondah, adding additional members is an easy process. “Our core line up is for a five-piece band consisting of vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and often a horn selection, however we can go up to a 10-piece band,” says Nicols.

Before locking in a company, weigh up your options. Consider what type of atmosphere you want to create for your guests and decide what will best suit you and your partner. Once you’ve made your decision, you can start planning your set list!

Processional and Recessional

The ceremony is the most romantic and emotional part of the day, so your choice of music should reflect this. Slow love songs are generally chosen for this part of the day as they set the scene for guests. Nicols says popular choices include “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, “All of Me” by John Legend and the timeless classic “At Last” by Etta James.

Cocktail Hour

After an emotional wedding ceremony, your guests will want to unwind at the reception with cocktails and conversation. Music can make or break the atmosphere, so your song choices should be relaxing and inviting. “[Music during cocktail hour] is generally more laid-back, background music,” says Nicols. “Acoustic songs allow guests to greet one another and mingle as they arrive.” You want to allow your guests to enjoy one another’s company and take in the beautiful surroundings of your reception. This will also give them the opportunity to find their seats if you have chosen to have a sit-down dinner.


The Entrance

Your reception entrance will introduce you and your partner as man and wife. All of your loved ones are excited to share this moment with both of you, so you’ll want to embrace that exhilaration and enthusiasm with your song choice. “The [song that] introduces the bride and groom is generally a high-energy [tune],” says Nicols. Some of the most requested songs for the reception entrance are “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.

The First Dance

The sky is the limit when choosing a song for your first dance. Whether it’s completely clichéd or totally unique, it should represent you and your partner. “There might be such a thing as ‘too clichéd’, but it really doesn’t matter as long as the couple is happy on the day,” says Nicols. If you want to stand out from all of the classic Ed Sheeran and John Legend song choices, speak to your music provider about your options. However, you can never go wrong with Sheeran’s “Perfect”.

The Parents’ Dance

Generally played immediately after the couple’s first dance, the father/daughter and/or mother/son dance is an important moment of any wedding. Nicols suggests a slower, more emotive song for this dance. Songs like “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright, “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder and “Ain’t That Love” by Ray Charles are all beautiful choices.

The Bouquet Toss

The bouquet toss is full of energy and excitement, and you want to choose a song that will keep the mood light and fun. “This part of the event often has songs that have very female oriented lyrics,” says Nicols. The power-house song “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa and P!nk is a classic, “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls is hard to pass on, and although “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen may not be the traditional female-oriented song, it is a crowd pleaser.

Growing Trends

It’s becoming commonplace for the bride and groom to choreograph a dance with their wedding party. Melissa Molinaro’s immaculately choreographed dance is the perfect example; her bridal party routine to Beyoncé’s “End of Time” injected a bit of fun into the reception. If you decide to do a choreographed dance, you’ll need to discuss and organise this with your band or DJ prior to your wedding day as you’ll need to ensure they can play your requested song. However, Nicols advises to let your music provider know of your song choice sooner rather than later. “Despite the level of musicianship, we like the band to have any requested songs no later than two weeks prior to the event,” he says.

Booking Time

When booking music for your wedding, it can be difficult to know how long to secure your band or DJ for. “Anywhere from five to six hours is the typical length [of time to book a band],” says Nicols. “I think that is more than enough when you consider what goes on [during] the day.” Even if you do end up securing your music provider for an extra hour that may be unnecessary, it’s worth it to ensure your reception is enjoyable all night long.

When choosing your music for the important moments of your wedding, make sure you choose songs that both you and your partner love. Nicols suggests asking family and friends for advice or speaking to your music provider about what will work well for your big day. After all, if you and your groom are happy, it will create an infectious atmosphere that everyone will enjoy.