Weddings are often remembered by their big moments: the arrival of the happy couple, the speeches, the cutting of the cake, and — of course — the unforgettable first dance. But with so much expectation riding on the debut dancefloor number, how do you choose a song that not only resonates with you on a personal level, but also encapsulates the overall feeling of the day, and creates a special memory for you and your guests?
We know it can feel like an impossible challenge when you’re trying to find the perfect song and the perfect live band or DJ to play it. So, to help all the engaged couples out there, here’s our simple step-by-step guide to a successful wedding song selection.
Step 1: the musical melting pot
Let’s start by embracing the fact that not all couples have the same music tastes. Opposites attract, right? If one of you is into the latest Beyoncé album, and the other would rather jump around to Red Hot Chili Peppers, have no fear. There’s nothing wrong with either of your listening habits, and no reason why you can’t find a wedding song that you both associate with good times.
Begin by sitting down together with a big piece of paper and writing down all the artists, genres, and songs that have a special meaning to you. It doesn’t matter how different your choices are — at this stage it’s all about sharing what you love, and exploring your options. Continue pouring your joint musical memories on to that sheet until you can’t think of any more.
Next, jot down some memories that you associate with your tunes of choice. Try to focus particularly on songs that remind you of times you’ve spent with your other half. Every couple’s got them — whether it’s a single that you couldn’t get out of your head when you started going out, a live rendition that really stood out at a concert that you attended together, or just a song that has you both boogieing around the kitchen when it comes on the radio.
Step 2: creating a shortlist
Have a good old chat about why the songs you’ve come up with mean a lot you. What memories do you associate with a particular track, and what stage in your relationship were you at when you first heard it? Bear in mind that these songs don’t necessarily have to be your all-time-favourites — they should simply represent happy memories you’ve shared with your future husband or wife.
Now’s the time to be a bit more selective. Grab a separate piece of paper and write a shortlist of around 20 songs that remind you of one another. If you’re struggling, fire up your favourite streaming service and make a playlist. A few of your original choices are bound to bring back some butterflies, and that’s when you know you’ve found a potential wedding song. Getting exciting, isn’t it?
Step 3: context is everything
It’s likely that a few of the songs on your shortlist won’t be entirely suitable for your wedding. This will come down to the atmosphere you’ve chosen for the big day. The best wedding songs provide a memorable representation of the overall tone of the event, so you’ll need to narrow your song choice down to avoid a confusing change of mood.
Is it a traditional white wedding in a beautiful chapel, a beach wedding with tropical paradise vibes, a homely gathering of friends and family in a familiar setting, or something else? Perhaps you’ve chosen a particular theme for your wedding, or have advised your guests to follow a certain dress code that will affect the feel of the event?
Consider these things carefully, then cross off any songs that clash awkwardly with the rest of your wedding plans. For example, a slow love ballad may not be the best choice for a lively wedding party, while a shamelessly catchy pop jam could potentially distract from the stately atmosphere of a more formal wedding.
Step 4: the perfect match
Now that you have an idea of the tunes you’re both keen on and the important contextual considerations that will make certain styles of music more suitable than others, use Headliner’s intuitive search function to find the perfect live act to play your wedding song.
Begin by choosing whether you want a band or DJ. Many people love the dynamic atmosphere that a talented live band can create, while others would prefer to hear their song as it was originally recorded. Whatever your preference, Headliner’s got hundreds of bands and DJs to choose from, so you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Next, head to the ‘Genres & Eras’ filter, and select the options that match with your shortlisted songs. Most artists include a sample set list, but it’s worth contacting a band you like the sound of even if they haven’t mentioned your top tune — they don’t tend to list all their songs, and most will able to add it to the performance for you even if it’s not part of their current repertoire.
Step 5: request a quote
Found the ideal performer? You’re almost there! Click the ‘Request a quote’ button, and you’ll be able to contact the artist directly. Once you’ve had a chat and arrived at a deal that meets your budget, you can pay via Headliner — we’ll hold your cash securely until after the event, so you’ll have one less thing to worry about before the big day. Now all that’s left to do is brush up on those wedding day dance moves.