You’re not here for the “most average” wedding songs 2021 has to offer. You want the best wedding songs—full stop.
When you Google “wedding songs 2021,” you get list after list of the same ~12 jams. That’s one less jam than LeBron had in his rookie season. You are not a rookie couple, and you deserve more choices. That’s why we created this monster (yet manageable) guide to wedding music. If you want to set the right tone and put guests in a celebratory mood, you’ve got to choose the right ceremony and wedding reception music.
Whether you’re into soda-pop 50’s nostalgia or sticky 70’s funk, use our picks to load up your playlist a la carte (or go straight to the hits list below). Let’s boogie.
Just the Hits, Please.
There’s… a lot of wedding music below. If your time is precious—and if you’re planning a wedding, it is—this mix is for you. Share it with your DJ, or scroll on to customize your own playlist of the best wedding songs.
Table of Contents
Best Wedding Ceremony Music
Best Wedding Reception Music
Wedding Music Quick Lists
Live Band vs. DJ (vs. Wedding Playlist)
Before you load your playlist with the best wedding songs, you’ve got to decide how to deliver the music. Here’s how to achieve your desired party vibe, and what to consider.
Instruments and musicians beat a guy with a laptop any day, but booking live talent is more expensive. If you want the experience, be prepared to pay. Also, bands are like restaurant menus—if they’re offering 50 pages worth of options, chances are all of it will be mediocre. Make sure the band can actually play the songs that are most important to you.
DJs have all the greats at their fingertips, and hiring one is cheaper than a band (especially if it’s a friend, and we all have a friend who’s a “DJ”). DJ’s are also less complicated: string quartets and Jimi Hendrix cover bands need more space and a larger power supply than a DJ, which can impact your venue options.
The downside? As we mentioned, everyone knows a DJ… or 10. The title’s thrown around pretty loosely these days, so there’s a higher risk of hiring a total vibe-killer. Screen potential talent carefully.
When you hire a DJ, you’re (hopefully) hiring experience. They can feel the crowd and give the party CPR when necessary—something that’s harder to do through a wedding playlist. Sure, you can stack the thing with all your favorite songs, but keeping your wedding party (and a lot of humans over the age of 50) on the dance floor requires sacrificing some of your faves.
Best Wedding Ceremony Music
As traditional officiants tend to mention, your wedding ceremony is the reason friends and family have assembled. This is the heart of your wedding day, and the wedding music you choose for your ceremony should be an earnest reflection of you and your partner.
Best Wedding Processionals
This might be the one time in your life you can demand to be treated like royalty, so if that’s you, get your Pachelbel on. At the same time, a processional doesn’t always require trumpets.
Classic Wedding Processionals
Modern Wedding Processionals
Best Wedding Songs for the Ceremony
Truth is, without music, your wedding ceremony is going to be boring. Whether you’re trying to make your meaningful symbolic act extra meaningful, or just keeping your uncle awake, make these tunes the soundtrack to lighting that candle / pouring that sand / drinking that wine.
Best Wedding Recessionals
The recessional music should capture the excitement of the day and optimism of the promise you’ve just made to your partner, yet not be so infectious as to make your guests leave their seats before they’ve been dismissed by an usher.
Classic Wedding Recessionals
Modern Wedding Recessionals
Best Wedding Music for the Reception
You’re so excited to swap rings with your best friend, but you probably didn’t think about how many people you’d be obligated to talk to post-nup. Unless. Unless your reception is a 2-3 hour dance party that does. not. quit. By choosing the best wedding songs possible (and having an open bar), you can make this dream a reality.
Best Wedding Songs for the First Dance
If you and bae already have “your song,” by all means, kick off married life with that. But if you’re still in the market for a personal love anthem, we have suggestions.
Best Wedding Songs for Parent Dances
The goal here is to get them to cry, so choose a song that makes them think of you as a newborn baby.
Best Wedding Songs for Starting the Party
Not everyone is a dance robot sent back from the future to get the party started. Body-moving is an art. Jump-start those human boogie bones with this party fuel.
Best Wedding Songs for Slow Dancing
A few slower songs will bring stodgy wedding guests to the floor, but don’t turn it into a ghost town by going full-McLachlan. Here are best bets for slowish wedding reception music.
Best Wedding Songs for Sing-Alongs
Every song is the best wedding song for a sing-along, and there is truly something magical about all of your guests slurring their way through a well-known tune. Don’t miss that magic.
Best Wedding Songs for Line Dancing
The songs proven to get your grandma on the dance floor (or conjure their spirit). You need those photos (or those orb sightings), so you need at least a few of these songs.
Best Gay Anthems
No man does it all by themself. Let your rainbow flag fly with these tunes.
Best Wedding Songs by Genre
Each genre should be represented at your post-nuptial dance-a-thon. To get the best boogie for your buck, be sure you add the best wedding songs from each genre to your playlist.
Americana & Country Music
Country is more than steel guitars and lonely cowboys (but it’s definitely also both of those things). George Strait and Shania Twain obviously made our playlist of Country and Americana wedding songs, but we had to give some love to modern country, too.
Dance & Electronic Music
You’re probably not trying to pull too many sexagenarians onto the dance floor with these wedding songs, but you’ll make up for it in kiddos—children love neon glow sticks.
We do not offer rental bell-bottom tux pants or platform patent leather shoes. We do offer this boogie-licious disco playlist full of wedding songs guaranteed to burn the mother down.
Do you even want to get married without the sound of an electric bass guitar? Add these funkified wedding songs to your list, and you’ll never have to find out.
Hip-Hop & Rap Music
Passion is essential for a long, happy marriage. That’s why Ice Cube has been happily married for nearly 28 years.
Nobody is too good for Pop. The genre was sonically engineered to make every person—everyone—feel great. You need some feel-great wedding songs on your playlist.
R&B & Soul Music
This playlist pulls double duty: wedding reception music, sure—but also honeymoon music (easy, tiger).
Come for the “Cheap Thrills,” stay for the “Funky Kingston.” This is highly danceable wedding music.
You don’t need hard rock to rock hard. Exhibit A: this playlist of classic rock wedding songs will probably leave you sweaty, but will not diminish your or your guests’ auditory senses.
Stupid Wedding Music
This shouldn’t have to be stated, but these are just dumb wedding songs that people love anyway. We are people! We love this stupid playlist!
Best Wedding Songs by Decade
For best results, pick a handful of defining tracks from each era to bring balance to your dance floor. If you’re that couple whose inspiration board features a 45lb disco ball, don’t worry—an all-70’s playlist is fine, too.
You’d think this would be the perfect playlist for your saddle shoes and soda pop doo-wop-fest, when in fact, it’s mostly Little Richard making you feel alive.
Honestly, not wildly different from the 50’s wedding music we recommended, but with slightly better sound quality.
The 70’s saw a little glam, a little more electronic influence, and more of The Isley Brothers.
Bowie, Prince—who else belongs on this wedding music Mount Rushmore? The 80’s gave us so much.
Are you more “MMMBop” or more “Doo Wop?” We are judging you.
It’s Britney, bitch.
This is probably the one decade you’ll need the least coaching on—just turn on the radio. (What’s a radio?)
We know, the 2021’s just started. We’ll be updating this as the decade progresses, so please withhold judgement if these ain’t your jams—things will change quickly.
Wedding Music Quick Lists
10 Wedding Songs You Must Play
Ignore the greatest dance songs of all time at your own peril. These are the best of the best wedding songs, and you’ve gotta have them on your playlist.
10 Wedding Songs to Retire
Sir Mix-A-Lot has professed his love for juicy doubles at every wedding reception since the early 90’s, but that doesn’t mean he has to land on your playlist. Neither do any of the other tracks we recommend cancelling
9 Go-To Artists for Wedding Songs
As long as you don’t dig down into the deep deep tracks, these artists have recorded some of the best wedding songs of all time. If you just need to give your DJ or wedding band a little inspiration, these are the names to drop.
Beyoncé (or Destiny’s Child)
10 Celebrity First Dances
Take inspiration from these glitter-covered humans’ first dances as married glitter-covered humans. Some are oldies, some are new tunes, and some songs were recorded by the couple (probably shy away from that last example).
George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin
Justin Timberlake & Jessica Biel
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West
Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed
Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban
Chelsea Clinton & Marc Mezvinsky
Reese Witherspoon & Jim Toth
Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka
President Barack Obama & Michelle Robinson
Beyonce & Jay-Z
Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi
Paul McCartney & Nancy Shevell
Kate Middleton & Prince William
You Deserve the Best
Instead of setting-and-forgetting a streaming service all night, you created a unique wedding playlist—the soundtrack to one of your biggest moments. Your efforts will absolutely pay off, but don’t stop there. Dressing your wedding party, your family, or yourself in a bad, outdated suit is like playing the first NOW album on repeat at your reception. I own that CD, and trust—you deserve better.
Whether you’re looking to buy or rent, we design better suits, crafted with fine Italian fabrics and a modern fit. Love the oldies? Check out our modern takes on classic tuxedos. Looking for the next trend? We do that, too.