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Wedding music - How to choose the core songs for your Wedding Reception

Posted By Keira Brown  
20:00 PM

Happy New Year everyone!

2019 was a big year for us at Master of Ceremonies Sydney, we officiated more ceremonies than ever before, and we won the Brides’ Choice Award for Western Sydney division of Best MC, and found out we had been nominated again as a Finalist for the 2020 Brides’ Choice Awards. We won’t find out until March who the winner is, but just the fact that our couples are willing to take a few moments to fill in a questionnaire without us even asking makes us winners already. Thank you to those who voted, it means so much to us.

A few months ago I did a post about Ceremony Music, and now that we have a bit of a break between weddings I realised I was long overdue to share a few hints and tips about Reception Music.

They say that listening to music can evoke memories of other times you’ve heard that particular song, so every time you listen to the song you chose for your bridal waltz could bring back memories of that special moment for you. The Core Music at your Wedding Reception essentially becomes the Soundtrack of your wedding day.


Bridal Party Entry

This is the song that you and your bridal party will enter the reception to as you are announced by your MC. This is your first introduction to people as a married couple, so definitely require an upbeat, celebratory song, and if you’re feeling it, maybe even dance to as you walk in.

Some couples are now opting to have snippets from several songs for each of their bridal party couples to enter to, and then one final song for themselves. Something to keep in mind when figuring this out is that sometimes the bridal party “couples” don’t even know each other, or don’t know each other well, which can make things awkward. An alternative is to have all the bridesmaids enter together to one song, then all of groomsmen to another song, then the newlyweds to their own song. Speak to your DJ or band to make sure they are able to accommodate this.

Scott’s suggestions: If you're planning to have everyone enter to the same song, I'd recommend "The Cup of Life" - Ricky Martin;
For Groomsmen all entering together, “24K Magic“ - Bruno Mars; for Bridesmaids entering together, “Run the World (Girls)“ - Beyonce; The Newlyweds... Choose a song you love!

Keira’s Suggestions: “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake (from Trolls) or “Happy” – Pharell Williams

Tip #1 – This is more a tip about time management – ask your photographer to get you back to the reception 15 minutes before you are actually due to be announced, and arrange with the venue for a private area and some refreshments.


Cutting the Cake

This song is really a fun filler while you cut your cake together and then toast each other with champagne. Old school Frank Sinatra is always classy, or you can opt to have some real fun and go with something like Candyman by Christina Aguiluira.

Scott’s suggestions: “Sugar“ - Maroon 5

Keira’s suggestions: “Pour Some Sugar on Me“ – Def Leppard or “The Way You Look Tonight” – Frank Sinatra


The Bridal Waltz

Arguably the most important song you’ll choose, after the Walking Down the Aisle song (see my post about Ceremony Songs). It’s possible you already have this song worked out, and have known what it would be from the moment you met, or you might sit down together and find a song with just the right lyrics. It’s important to actually read the lyrics too, there are some ultra romantic-sounding songs out there, but once you read the lyrics it can sometimes mean something completely different to what you thought. And once you’ve chosen, even if you opt to not get dance lessons, make sure you do practice dancing to it. You don’t need to know how to waltz, but you do need to be comfortable moving to the beat.

Scott’s suggestions: “Over and Over Again“ - Nathan Sykes, Ariana Grande

Keira’s suggestions:Fall on Me”, by Andrea Bocelli

Tip #2 – You don’t have to dance to the entire song. Ask your MC to ‘rescue you’ beforehand. When this happens, Scott has a quick word with the photographer to let them know you aren’t doing the full song, and will ask them to let him know when they’ve got the photos they need of your dance. He will then either ask the DJ or Band to fade out, or with your prior permission, ask your Bridal Party to join you so you aren’t dancing alone.

Tip #3 – start the song before you’ve even walked onto the dance floor. This will maximise the amount of song heard by you and your guests, but minimise how much time you actually have to dance in front of everyone.

Tip #4 – if you have the time, get dance lessons. You don’t have to do any tricks or showy lifts to do a romantic first dance.


Father/Daughter dance

This dance is entirely optional. If you are including this dance, ask your dad about this one - he might have a song in mind that has always reminded him of you. You can also use this song to start off the dance floor, as it will likely be slow(ish), and something that everyone will be comfortable getting up to. After this song the dance music can start, and it’s more likely that people will stay on the dance floor.

Scott’s suggestions: Butterfly Kisses“ - Bob Carlisle

Keira’s suggestions: “My Wish” – Rascal Flatts

Tip #5 - Practice this one too - it will soothe any nerves on the big day.

Tip #6 – You can ask for a rescue from this dance too, and you don’t even need to tell your dad about it. Just let your MC know that you’ll tap your dad on the shoulder when you’re ready for the rescue, and the MC will then invite all your guests to join you.


Garter Toss

Many couples are opting not to do this, but it can be a bit of fun for everyone if you do decide to include it. Just make sure you have enough single men to form a small crowd to catch the garter, and if there aren’t enough singles there, ask the unmarried men (who are in couples) to also join in.

Scott’s suggestions: “Pony“ - Ginuwine

Keira’s suggestions: “Danger Zone” – Kenny Loggins

Tip #7 – if the bride is wearing a tightfitting gown that doesn’t allow for easy removal of the Garter, this might be difficult to do. Grooms, make sure you ask your Bride (without prying about the dress too much), if doing the garter toss will be okay.


Bouquet Toss

Ask your florist if they do a special deal to have a 'toss' bouquet if you wish to keep the one you walked down the aisle with. Your bridal bouquet can also get really heavy, so throwing it at your guests’ heads is not the greatest way to end the night! As with the garter toss, make sure you have enough single women to form a small crowd, or invite the unmarried women to join the fray as well.

Scott’s suggestions: “Wannabe“ - Spice Girls

Keira’s suggestions: “It’s Raining Men – Geri Halliwell

Tip #8 – When throwing, keep your girlfriends waiting for a bit - have a bit of dance, do a few pretend tosses without letting go of the bouquet, wait for the song to really build up.


Farewell Song

This is the last song of the night, when the happy couple leave the reception to signal the end of the party. This is usually done 15 minutes before the ending time, to allow for everyone to say goodbye. You can have a guard of honour, where everyone lines up in two lines and hold hands over the space between, where you will walk through, or you can have a sparkler send off (but check with your venue if they allow sparklers onsite). Another option is a farewell circle, where your MC gets everyone into a circle, and you each walk in separate directions around the circle to say goodbye to everyone. This can take a lot longer, allow at least two songs, three to be safe, and it will need to be arranged almost 30 minutes before you leave.

Scott’s suggestions: “(I've Had) The Time of My Life“ - Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes

Keira’s suggestions: “Come Fly With Me” – Frank Sinatra

Tip #9 – If you’re not staying at the venue overnight, ensure you have a car and a sober driver ready and waiting for you to leave. Give your MC the driver’s name and number so he can ensure your driver is ready before organising the farewell. It can get a bit awkward to leave your reception and then stand around for a few moments, and if you head back into the reception, this can delay your guests leaving - if you’re there after your agreed time with the venue, they may charge you for it.

Tip #10 – make sure you keep your DJ or band up to date with song choices and changes, to ensure a smooth night. Once you’ve handed over to your DJ you should not have to think about the music on your wedding day/night at all.


Scott and I have a few Spotify playlists we've put together for each part of the wedding reception, and we continue to update it so don't hesitate to check them out:

Bridal Party Entrance Song Suggestions

Cake Cutting Song Suggestions

Bridal Waltz Song Suggestions

Father / Daughter Dance Song Suggestions

Garter and Bouquet Toss Song Suggestions

Farewell Song Suggestions


If you'd like to have a chat or meet with us in person to see if Scott is the right Marriage Celebrant or Professional MC for you, get in contact through our contact form, or contact us directly on info@masterofceremoniessydney.com or 0402 001 462 (me) or 0412 996 354 (Scott). We would love to hear from you!




About the team at Master of Ceremonies Sydney

I’m Scott Phillips, a registered Marriage Celebrant, professional Master of Ceremonies (MC) and dad to two gorgeous girls.

I’m really a dog person, but a 13-year-old cat named Morgan has somehow managed to turn me into one of her minions.

We believe that every event, whether it is a wedding ceremony, wedding reception, a corporate function (even a Christmas party), a charity event, an expo or trade show, will be a Moment of Truth. A moment that will form memories, bonds and goodwill that will carry a lasting impression.

As a Celebrant I believe in creating a magical, memorable ceremony that will be remembered for years to come, and to do that I ensure each ceremony is unique and tailored to the bride and groom, who they are individually and as a couple. 


I'm Keira Brown and I’m a writer, cat lover, and new owner of a dog named Bear, who lives up to his name in size and looks, but he’s really cuddly. 

I used to be completely uninterested in marriage, weddings, relationships, anything to do with love really. Not because I'd had my heart broken, but because to me it just didn’t seem that important. Then I met Scott, and my life, my entire world changed. Everything was about weddings, because that's what he does. And gradually, as I fell deeper in love with Scott and started helping him with Master of Ceremonies Sydney, I finally got it. It's not about the marriage, or the reception, decorations or food, or even the ceremony - it's about two people declaring their love for each other before the entire world. An irrevocable promise to always be there for each other.