We had several separate lists, set up in iTunes as follows:
Wedding 1: Pre Ceremony- On this we had 5 longish, slow, soft songs. Norah Jones, and some soft orchestral/violin covers of video game or movie songs. (Mostly nerdy stuff by Lindsey Stirling)
Wedding 2: Processional- One song. Speaks for itself. (In our case, the theme from My Neighbor Totoro, called Path of the Wind by Joe Hisaishi.)
Wedding 3: Recessional- One song. Again, simple. (In our case, an audacity-edited version of a fanfare from a video game we like called Fire Emblem.)
Wedding 4: Cocktail Hour- 16 songs for 60 minutes of tunes. This was actually the second to last playlist we *made* because it was a good place for a lot of songs we wanted to fit in but didn’t see a good place for during dancing. This was pretty personal to us, so I’m not sure our picks will help – we had a mix of upbeat and loungey music with some funny songs (lonely island, weird al, jonathan coulton) mixed in. Mostly modern stuff, this is where our more obscure, hipstery picks came in, because basically if people didn’t recognize it, they would ignore it and continue chatting and drinking, if they did, they’d go “oh neat” and then continue chatting and drinking. Last song was the Jurassic Park theme, just ’cause.
Wedding 5: First Dance – One song. (In our case, You and I, by Ingrid Michaelson.)
Wedding 6: Dinner- Another hourish of music, 15 songs this time, more hipster stuff but a bit more subdued and with more classic rock and oldies geared toward the older folks.
Wedding 7: Dance 1- 6 songs, 20 minutes, very high energy. Power rangers theme song, Spaceman by The Killers, Friday Night by The Darkness, Take Back The City by Snow Patrol, Long Train Running by Doobie Brothers, Don’t Make Me Wait by Locksley. Had the younguns take the lead on the dance floor with high energy songs deliberately tailored to our crew, with the inclusion of Doobies, tailored to his family to wake up some of the older folks.
Wedding 8: Cake cutting- One song. Noticing a pattern to the event songs here? Making a seprate one-song playlist for events makes it easier to pick out for you or whoever is helping you out. (I had an assistant.)
Wedding 9: Dance 2- 24 songs, 1 hour and 26 minutes. By this point in the night, the old folks are on the other deck smoking cigars and chatting or making their way out, exactly as predicted, so it’s geared toward the younger folks. This was broken down into several 20 minute “sets” and then merged. A flowing mix of high energy pop, a couple mid-beat transition songs, a couple of slow songs, a “rest song” (good for listening, eh for dancing), a transition song (Airplanes by BoB), 4 more high energy pop songs, one slow song, one rest song, several more high energy dance songs culminating in Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO (a favorite in our group) and then the wind down songs: Do You Realize by The Flaming Lips, and…
Wedding 10: Last Dance-Another one song playlist, so it could be easily located if the timing was off. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, by Israel K.
Wedding 11: Backup Music- 11 songs, 43 minutes of assorted other music we liked and we know other people liked just in case we needed more tunes for some reason.
How we selected:
We made a spreadsheet. On that spreadsheet we each added every single song we could conceivably imagine wanting to hear on our wedding day or that we think anyone else might want to hear, with artist, track name, and length of song.
Next, in another column, we marked down whether a song was most appropriate for dancing, cocktail hour, or dinner. (Including markings for songs that could fit in multiple categories.) From there, we marked each of our most important DANCE songs – we had a limited time for dancing and wanted to make sure we both heard our top songs. We picked dance songs by preference and what we knew would get people moving, as well as what sounded good together. Slow songs were very limited.
Once we had finished setting up our dance playlist and tweaking the flow of it, we moved on to cocktail hour, which was MUCH easier, and then dinner, where we tossed all the songs we wanted to hear but couldn’t fit anywhere else.
We… acquired… all the music. ;D Darling Husband did some editing on audacity to make sure there was no noise or dead space at the fronts and ends of certain tracks. Put it all in itunes in playlists as listed above, set it with a few seconds of crossfade and volume matching on, and you’re good to go!
It sounds like more work than it is… it is some, but it was a lot of fun and we had a blast doing it together.
Obviously if your reception is shorter or longer, or you have more events, you modify. You can split up the dancing into more playlists if you need to have more events. Also, we were blessedly covered for equipment as our venue had a nice speaker setup we could take advantage of. So I can’t really advise on that since it was taken care of for us.