Jan 9, 2020

Wedding Reception Music Choices: First Dance, Parent Dances, Bouquet & Garter Tosses, Last Dance

By the end of this blog, you’ll have fresh song ideas for the first dance, parent dances, bouquet and garter tosses, and the last dance at your wedding reception. Plus you’ll have the motivation to finally check that off your list!

Wait Until the Last Minute?

Most couples wait till the last minute to decide on these. No judgment on that either, you’re choosing the soundtrack to wedding day memories. I get why it’s hard, no worries this will help. I have a list of the most popular and most interesting song choices for these moments.

Stats from Real Weddings

And its real, I went through the timelines for the 72 couples whose weddings we coordinated last year and I’m going to give you the stats on what they chose for each of these special moment songs. AND I’ll tell you the songs I expect to be popular in 2020.

First Dance as Newlyweds

Let’s start with the couple’s very first dance as newlyweds. This one is important, it will mean something to you every time you hear it in the future. So you want it to be familiar enough that you will hear it randomly, but not so popular that you hear it constantly and to the point where it’s not special to you. I’ll tell you the most popular of our couples, but first, let me tell you the less popular but more interesting selections.

Less Popular But Interesting

Appropriate to NOLA, Louis Armstrong’s Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans was fun and interesting choice.

Most Popular Artist

Ed Sheeren was our most popular artist for first dance songs, with Perfect and Thinking Out Loud as the most common choice. Among our couples, he even beat out Elvis with his popular wedding song Can’t Help Falling in Love.

Old Favorites

At Last, by Eda James has also been popular this year, but probably its been that way since it was recorded. The Way You Look Tonight was popular, both Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett’s versions.

Upbeat Options

If you’re going for something more upbeat, this year we had couples choose Modern English’s Melt with You and Whitney Houston’s Dance with Somebody.

Most Interesting

The most interesting first dance song this year goes to Gold Love by Maren Morris.

Most Popular

But our most popular song this year was drum roll please Louis Armstrong’s La Vie en Rose. It’s so hard to tell y’all the names of these songs and not sing them. Too bad I can’t sing via blog. But probably better for all parties! My sister got all the musical talent, check her out @andgepizza.

Parent Dances

Next up is parent dances, and we will start with the Father of the Bride and Bride.

Father of the Bride and the Bride

The first is the most interesting. With this most interesting winner, I need to point out 2 things, 1. Bride and dad better have rhythm because it’s a little hard to dance too, also 2. probably a little awkward for the groom and his side. Though I do like the song… Daddy Lessons by Beyoncé. If you haven’t heard it, re’s a sample of the lyrics: “My daddy warned me about men like you, He said baby girl he’s playing you.” It makes me giggle as I imagine the mother of the groom snickering to her gal pals. Bit of a change up from say Butterfly Kisses.

Our second most popular song this year was Wildflowers by Tom Petty, loved that choice.

Other popular songs were Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing and John Mayer’s Daughters.

Quick tip, make sure you get your band or DJ to cut the music for these formal dances to about a minute and a half. Too much longer than that it gets awkward for the dancers and boring for the guests.

Most Popular Father Daughter Dance Song of 2019

The most popular song for the father-daughter dance goes again to Louis Armstrong with What a Wonderful World. Can’t go wrong with that.

Mother of the Groom and the Groom

What about the Mother of the Groom (MoG) and the Groom? I think the MoG’s think about this song more than anyone else thinks about formal dances, so there’s some creative and beautiful songs on the list. However, this one is always the last selection to be made. Sometimes the night before we are still waiting on the MoG’s choice. Again it’s cool, it’s a special moment. I know I’m crazy but I hear songs constantly and am like “awe that’d be such a sweet song to dance to with my son at his wedding.” My son is 18 months old. Needless to say, we got a minute.

We had a three-way tie this year for MoG & G: 1. Boyz II Men’s A Song For Mama, 2. Van Morrison’s Days Like This, and Louis Armstrong again with What a Wonderful Wonderful World.

The most interesting choice had to be Mama by Spice Girls. The lyrics are sweet, but you’ve got to watch the music video, but it might ruin it for you if you were considering this. Cheesy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Bouquet and Garter Toss Songs

Less and less people are throwing bouquets and garters, probably about 50% of our couples have a bouquet toss. So we don’t have quite as large of a pool to draw from here.

Bouquet Toss Most Popular Songs

The most popular song for the bouquet toss was Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce followed by Good as Hell by Lizzo. And yes people are still playing Single Ladies.

Garter Toss Most Popular Songs

Only about 25% of our couples threw the garter. Of those, the most popular song was Let’s Get it On, by Marvin Gaye. Newish choices are Hot in Herre, Nelly, but if you choose that one, make sure the groom likes to dance! Britney’s Toxic happened, and it was a crowd-pleaser.

Last Song

The last song is last and its the song that most our couples initially do not want to pick. They say, “oh just let the band choose” or “whatever is natural.” As a fly on the wall at weddings most weekends, I can say from first hand observation, a planned last song is better. I’m going to tell you the ones our couples played, but I think the really important message with this, is pick a song that gets you pumped. You want to finish the night on a high note. You want to feel like you wish it wasn’t over. Sure a ho-hum last song makes it easy for people to get off the dance floor, but that’s the wrong feeling for the end of your best day ever.

The Favorites

Alright, I’m done talking about that … here are the favorites. Well, the most common choice is To Be Determined, after that, its Last Dance by Donna Summer followed by Closing Time by Semisonic. For our holiday weddings, All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey was popular.

Fun Choices

Other fun final songs included Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, NSync’s Bye Bye Bye, and Beyonce’s Schoolin’ Life.

Popular for 2020

And finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. the songs I expect to be popular in 2020 are as follows.

First Dance

These two should be hits next year for the couples’ first dance:

Vampire Weekend – We Belong Together

Old Dominion – One Man Band

Father Daughter Dance

For the father and the bride, I’m predicting more choreographed dances. This is already happening, and I really want to see Meghan Trainor’s Dance Like Yo Daddy happen.

Mother Groom Dance

I’ve got a really great one for the mother and groom. But it’s a total tear-jerker. I’m all in on Bruno Mars’ Count on Me. I love the idea of a song that is a mom to her son and also a son to her mother. Go listen and imagine that moment. Its. So. Stinkin. Sweet.


For the Bouquet, get ready to listen to Good as Hell at every wedding you go to for the next 5 years. It will have a moment in this space, similar to Single Ladies.

For the Garter, my prediction is that this tradition continues to fade, or takes on something new. I really don’t have anything here.

Last Song

Alright final cliff hanger, what’s going to be popular in 2020 as the last song of the wedding night? I’d love y’all to start choosing your crew’s anthems, the song that people closest to you are just going to spring out their seats, rush to the dance floor and just lose it! But if we are just going on popularity, I’m betting on Coldplay’s Something Just Like This.

Hold on one more thing, a final parting piece of expert coordinator advice. No matter what songs you choose, make sure they are on your timeline, the one that your band or DJ has in hand on the wedding day.

It’s very easy for online questionnaires and long documents to get lost in the shuffle. And like I said earlier, these songs make up the lasting memories for that night, so have that watertight. Probably the best bet is to higher a wedding coordinator to keep all this straight wedding day, just saying.

I hope this blog helped you get something checked off your wedding to-do list! Until next week, Happy Wedding Planning!




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