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How to Create a Crowd-Pleasing Wedding Reception Playlist

The important thing to remember when you are planning your budget wedding reception is that you want to be able to enjoy your own party. The reception is the time when you can finally relax, let down your hair (or kick off your uncomfortable shoes) and dance the night away with your new spouse, your best friends, your parents and even your 90-year-old grandmother. 

Creating the perfect wedding reception playlist is one of the most fun parts of the planning process, and it gives you an excuse to rock out to “Billie Jean” over and over again. 

Tips for Picking the Right Budget Wedding Reception Music 

1. Compare costs.

You may have your heart set on a live rock ‘n’ roll cover band for your reception, but before you make a decision, find out how much it will cost. A wedding band can provide lively and high-quality entertainment, but it often costs much more than a DJ. If you are trying to keep costs down, research DJs who have good recommendations and are within your budget, or look into the completely DIY route. With a rented sound system, an excellent iPod playlist and a music-savvy friend to keep things moving smoothly, you could create a great dance party for a fraction of the cost.

2. Consider your audience.

Whether you decide to hire a DJ or do the music yourself, you will want to come up with a list of songs that you definitely want to hear at the reception (as well as those you definitely do NOT want to hear). When you start to brainstorm your ideal wedding reception playlist, take into account your own personal tastes as well as those of your guests. Try to find a good mix tunes from different genres, eras and tempos that will get everyone out on the dance floor. For example, throw a slow song in for every five fast songs, and choose a little hip-hop and ‘80s pop for your college friends, some old-time rock ‘n’ roll for your parents and their friends and some Rat Pack crooners for your grandparents. You don’t have to go for all crowd-pleasers or wedding standards, but remember that getting too obscure will probably result in an empty dance floor. For example:

Slow Songs

"You Send Me" - Sam Cooke 

"Fly Me to the Moon" - Frank Sinatra 

"The Luckiest" - Ben Folds 

"Dance Me to the End of Love" - Madeleine Peyroux 

"If I Fell" - The Beatles 

"Always Be My Baby" - Mariah Carey 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Dance Songs 

"Single Ladies" - Beyonce 

"Footloose" - Kenny Loggins 

"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" - Michael Jackson

"The Twist" - Chubby Checker

"Push It" - Salt ‘n’ Pepa

"Say Hey (I Love You)" - Michael Franti & Spearhead 

"Runaround Sue" - Dion & the Belmonts 

3. Leave room for flexibility.

Have a Plan B in case your selections don't seem to be clicking with your guests. Talk to the DJ in advance and give him the freedom to shake up the playlist and rely on his expertise to play songs that will get people moving. If you are going DIY, have a few close friends make back-up playlists on their iPods in case you want to swap them in.

What are your tips for creating the perfect wedding reception playlist?

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