Wedding Music That Will Get Your Guests Dancing

Songs for a full dance floor and fun times

Groom and groomsman dancing at reception
Roberto Westbrook/Blend Images/Getty Images

The best weddings have ceremonies that are romantic and beautiful, and receptions that are all-out parties. Next to food, wedding reception music is perhaps the most important element of making your guests go home saying, "Man, that was a fun wedding." Nothing is worse than an empty dance floor. If you want to ensure that your guests are dancing and having fun all night long, here are my tips for great wedding music.

Variety is Key:

What appeals to your college friends is not going to be exactly the same as what appeals to your great aunt and uncle, so mix things up and play some of each. If you do it right, the guests who come to the floor for KC & The Sunshine Band will stick around for Beyoncé.

Know Your Audience:

In some circles, line dances like "Cha Cha Slide" are hugely popular. Amongst my friends, however, it would go over about as well as a lead balloon. That's why I have those kinds of songs on my personal "Do Not Play List." However, my family has a soft spot for "Copacabana." Even though it's cheesy in my opinion, it just might have to be played. Bottom line, you know your friends and family better than any DJ or bandleader. If there's a song that will really get your guests dancing, or keep them from dancing, don't hesitate to make that known.

Ask Your Guests About Their Favorite Wedding Music:

On your reply card, ask guests to name a song that will be sure to get them up and dancing.

It will help guests get excited for dancing and ensure that the wedding music appeals to a wide variety of people.

Take Care of Older Guests:

Sure, you want your friends to have a good time, but don't ignore Grandma and Grandpa. Older guests will tend to be among the first to leave, so tailor your music selections accordingly.

Towards the beginning of your reception, play '40s, '50s, and '60s hits mixed with current selections. In the last hour, you can stick to current music. Some oldies that appeal to many generations: Elvis' "Teddy Bear" and "Hound Dog," the Supremes "You Can't Hurry Love" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire."

Get the Dancing Started a Little Early:

Traditionally speaking, dancing doesn't start until after the cake is served, but where's the fun in that? Today's brides and grooms want to have livelier, more fun wedding receptions, so they kick off the dancing shortly after the main course is served. In fact, at one of the more fun wedding receptions I've ever been to, the dancing started as soon as the bride and groom were announced. The only time the dancing stopped was for the toasts!

Stack the Dance Floor:

Hey, you're the bride (or groom). You get to boss the bridal party around, at least a little bit. Careful scientific observation tells me that guests are more apt to dance when there are already people dancing, so tell the bridal party that part of their job is to dance and to ask other people to dance. Plus, the pictures of your 20-something-year-old former roommate dancing with your 80-something-year-old great uncle will be priceless.

Play the Good Wedding Music, Not the Bad Kind:

Even if you have a DJ who will take care of the tunes, spend some time thinking about your wedding music. Put together a do not play list and a list of songs you definitely want to hear. Then throw in some ideas that you think will get your guests on their feet.

You can't go wrong playing today's hits, but here are some older songs that are definitely worth including:

'80s

  • Billy Idol - "Dancing With Myself"
  • Commodores - "Celebration"
  • Commodores - "Easy"
  • Earth Wind & Fire - "Shining Star"
  • John Cougar - "Rockin' In the USA"
  • Kool & The Gang - "Get Down On It"
  • Kool & The Gang - "Jungle Boogie"
  • Madonna - "Burning Up"
  • Madness - "Our House"
  • Michael Jackson - "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough"
  • Modern English - "Melt With You"
  • Pet Shop Boys - "West End Girls"
  • Romantics - "What I Like About You"
  • The Clash - "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
  • The Cure - "Love Cats"
  • The Weather Girls - "It's Raining Men"
  • Tommy Tutone - "Jenny (867-5309)"

'70s

  • Chic - "Good Times"
  • Commodores - "Brick House"
  • Grand Funk Railroad - "Some Kind of Wonderful"
  • Jackson 5 - "ABC"
  • KC & The Sunshine Band - "Get Down Tonight"
  • KC & The Sunshine Band - "Shake Your Booty"
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama"
  • Ramones - "I Wanna Be Sedated"
  • Rolling Stones - "Miss You"
  • Sly and the Family Stone - "Dance to the Music"
  • Sister Sledge - "We Are Family"
  • The Isley Bros - "It's Your Thing"

'60s

  • Al Green - "Lets Stay Together"
  • Aretha Franklin - "Respect"
  • Beatles - "I Saw Her Standing There"
  • Beatles - "Twist & Shout"
  • Blues Brothers - "Soul Man"
  • Credance Clearwater Revival - "Proud Mary"
  • Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - "Oh What A Night"
  • James Brown - "I Feel Good"
  • Mitch Ryder - "Devil With a Blue Dress"
  • Mitch Ryder - "Good Golly Miss Molly"
  • Otis Redding - "Hard to Handle"
  • Rolling Stones - "Jumping Jack Flash"
  • Rolling Stones - "Satisfaction"
  • Supremes - "You Can't Hurry Love"
  • The Archies - "Sugar"
  • Van Morrison - "Into the Mystic"
  • Young Rascals - "Good Lovin'"

'50s

  • Chubby Checker - "The Twist"
  • Chuck Berry - "Johnny B. Goode"
  • Contours - "Do You Love Me"
  • Elvis Presley - "Blue Suede Shoes"
  • Elvis Presley - "Can't Help Falling In Love"
  • Elvis Presley - "Teddy Bear"
  • Platters - "Only You"
  • Sam Cook - "You Send Me"
  • The Angels - "My Boyfriend's Back"
  • The Kingsmen - "Louie Louie"
  • Wilson Picket - "Mustang Sally"

'40s

  • Frank Sinatra - "It Had to Be You"
  • Frank Sinatra - "The Way You Look Tonight"