Karaoke at my wedding: is this a terrible idea?

August 23 |
Final Act
Photo by Persimmon Images
My partner and many of our friends adore karaoke. We've talked about having karaoke for half an hour to forty five minutes of our reception (our reception will be five hours total including a cocktail "hour"). We've mentioned this to a few people and have gotten mixed reviews. Some people adore it, others can't keep their eyebrows from reaching their hairline.

Is there a particular time that it makes sense to do something like this? I definitely think it should be towards the end of the reception but don't really want to end our party with karaoke. And is there a way to ward off those that are tone deaf? I'm also a bit concerned about song selections that may be offensive to grandma.

-kah71

Well, first we'll say this: If wedding karaoke is a terrible idea, you're in great company! You might want to consider a few factors like having a few planted friends to sing pre-selected songs and limiting the selection of tracks. Also, for the sake of your non-singing guests, make sure there's a place for guests to go if they want to opt out of the karaoke and just chat.

We'd love to hear from those of you planning to belt it out at your receptions: how'd you manage your karaoke logistics? For those of you married types who did karaoke, what were your biggest tips for wedding karaoke success?

  1. I love the idea of Karaoke and have been tossing around the idea for our wedding as well. I'm pretty sure it's a go

    1 agrees
  2. My husband and I just featured karaoke at our wedding two weeks ago, and while at the time I thought it was a great idea, I realize now it wasn't. We also had friends that are hardcore karaoke-ers, and let me tell you… they weren't the ones that did it. The drunk second cousins that could barely form non-slurred words were the one screaming their tunes into the mics. It is literally the only thing I would redo if I had the chance.

    8 agree
  3. Could you put it on the RSVP card? That way you would have the list of those who would like to participate in advance and also their song requests. If someone wanted to sing who was pretty tone deaf or chose an inappropriate song, you could say, "Sorry, we had so many people who wanted to participate that there just wasn't enough time, so we had to make it first come/first served (or some other option). Maybe we'll have to hit up a karaoke bar in the next few months so I can hear you sing!" Hopefully, this way, nobody's feelings are hurt, but you get to have just the karaoke singers that you select.

    7 agree
  4. I think that if you love karaoke, then go for it. But, if you have an open bar, you may want to have the karaoke during the cocktail hour or early on, so you don't have ridiculously drunk people singing. Also, you may be able to only have a limited number of songs available, pre approved by you and your significant other or approved as you go along by a DJ or something.

    3 agree
  5. Do it!! We're having karaoke at our wedding. We come from a friend group who are not very big into dancing, but loved group Rock Band in its day and karaoke. We're even having a "first song" to open up the mic.

    Here's a link to the wedding video of a very hip couple who inspired the whole idea for us :-) I found their video while searching for ideas to decorate our reception venue, which will be in the lobby and on the 2nd floor of this refurbished theatre 2 blocks from our house.
    http://www.inkspotcrow.com/blog/blog/2011/07/27/craig-megan-wedding-highlights-greensboro-nc/

    As for drunk cousins and inappropriate songs – that was something we addressed with our DJ. He has a "no play" list and is going to act as a mic bouncer to help deter people from getting out of hand. We also have a bartender who is going to help keep the alcohol consumption at a level we feel comfortable with.

    2 agree
  6. We had rock band at our after party (we had an early end time at our wedding venue so we rented the banquet room above a bar from 9pm-12midnight). While it isn't specifically karaoke, there is the singing element.

    Honestly, it was awesome. Yes, people were drunk and no, not everyone was a good singer. But having the words and the sort of bar that shows the tune in rock band was super helpful in keeping people on track. Plus, nobody wants to fail their team and the level when it's a game.

    If you want karaoke, using a game system version like rock band or karaoke revolution might be a good option!

    2 agree
  7. I think your advice is spot on. Stick with that structure and it should be fine.

    0 agree
  8. We're using a Rock Band/Guitar Hero setup, so that people who cannot sing to save their lives (myself included) can still rock people's socks off.

    1 agrees
  9. I'm a firm believer in doing whatever you want on your wedding day! I wouldn't say a word, the Karaoke machine would magically appear the last hour and half of the reception after everyone is fully lubricated. And I would maybe tell the people who love Karaoke ahead of time. If I weren't the biggest scardy cat I would sing the cheesiest love song to you! Rock on with your bad self.

    0 agree
  10. We had a weekend wedding, and we had karaoke the night before in one of the meeting halls at the conference center we were at. It worked out well and was a lot of fun, but we do karaoke with many of our friends (in fact, for our bachelor/ettes we both went out of town and…did karaoke with our friends) and one of our best friends (who loves karaoke more than we do and is comfortable being on stage) KJed, and since he knew most people and had karaoked with many of them, he could stack songs by skill of singer in addition to temp/mood etc. And push people with less talent to the bottom of the stack. Since we had close t 100 people there really only the decent ones were stepping up anyway. It was nice that there was a big deck where people could hang out outside, a big lawn in front the kids were running around on who didn't care about karaoke, and a fire pit out back where people could chill; so I agree that maybe have a separate chill out area (cool cocktail corner? Guestbook and photo station?) Where people who don't like it can get away. :)

    1 agrees
  11. Since I am a karaoke enthusiast and go out to sing with friends almost weekly, it was a no-brainer that it would be a part of our wedding celebration. However we aren't having a traditional reception. We are having a casual party two months after our courthouse ceremony, and there will be mostly friends in attendance instead of family. I just plan on playing background music for the first 2-3 hours and then start karaoke for the last 3-4, playing dance music in between 'sets' so that people don't get burned out. We aren't even hiring a DJ; we have a good friend that has a PA system and I have my own subscription to a karaoke streaming site that we will use. Karaoke doesn't have to be about being a good singer. It's about having fun.

    1 agrees
  12. This is an amazing idea and you need to do it! I was so upset when the bar at our venue (bowling ally) cancelled karaoke for the night of our wedding. I so wanted to get up there in my wedding dress and belt one out.

    Do it!

    3 agree
  13. I accidentally had karaoke at my wedding and it was a huge hit, and created many wonderful memories. How did I end up having accidental, karaoke, you may ask? I was going the ipod-and-speakers route, but my dad insisted we had to have a "real band'. I said that was fine, but he had to do the work of getting one, then. He delegated my older brother, who is big into the local music scene, to find one.

    My brother called a few weeks before the wedding, saying he'd booked the best classic rock cover band in town for the wedding. I thought he said something about karaoke, but I was stressed and sure I misheard, so I didn't pay much attention.

    Come the day of the wedding, it is, indeed, a classic rock karaoke band. A random friend got up and did a Shatner-esque version of Rocket Man to break the ice. It was so over-the-top and "terrible" that no one felt any shyness about getting up after that point.

    Other memories include:
    – My dad and my new father-in-law singing punk songs together.
    – My attendants and all my cousins singing Dancing Queen for me.

    But to me, the most special memory was my first dance. I hadn't planned an official first dance, because my husband hates dancing, and being the center of attention. My family decided this was not ok, and so my sister, brother and dad sang "Joy to the world" (the "all the boys and girls" one, not the christmas carol), and that was our impromptu first dance, with my niece, the "treasure fairy" (ringbearer) running around us trailing a rainbow scarf.

    Perhaps it worked out better than it could've because my family mostly comes from a musical, singing background. But despite the fact it wasn't what I'd planned, I honestly could not have planned things to turn out better than they did. And, 5 years later, I still get comments from people about how it was one of the most fun weddings they have attended.

    5 agree
    • "Dancing Queen" was my go-to karaoke song while I lived in Japan. Best thing ever, until you get a whole room of people belting out "Living On a Prayer" or "Don't Stop Believing" at the tops of their lungs. Yeah!

      1 agrees
  14. As someone who doesn't actually enjoy karaoke I am going to say totally do it! If you like it, and you have some friends or family who like it, then go for it, after all it's your wedding.
    I don't sing in public (my singing voice is all quiet and off pitch and it doesn't carry and I don't look confident doing it, it's just bad), but I still go and get drunk at karaoke while my friends sing, and yeah, it's not as much fun as dancing to me, but it's totally more fun for some people!

    3 agree
  15. I've photographed two weddings that had karaoke and they were both amazing & fun. I say if you like it do it! Both couples started the karaoke off with a duet which was really sweet. My advice would be to maybe start it just a little later after everyone has had a few drinks. :)

    2 agree
  16. We're considering doing "first karaoke" instead of a first dance, since we're not the most coordinated people and we're not terrible singers. ..or so we think. Would love to hear opinions or examples of making this work!

    3 agree
  17. If anyone thinks our plan to do wedding karaoke is a bad idea, they've hidden it well. In fact we've gotten a few people who have indicated that they would be surprised if we didn't.

    1 agrees
  18. We had karaoke. It was popular and fun and the KJ added so much to the experience. And my spouse surprised me by leading a sing-along of one of my favorite songs!

    0 agree
  19. I think it's a great idea! I attended a rehearsal dinner that had karaoke and it was lots of fun. It helped that the bride and groom were theater people with lots of musically inclined friends, but I think it could work for anyone who has an interest in it and enough friends and relatives willing to sing.

    0 agree
  20. We had a karaoke jukebox at our reception, and people just picked songs on the Jukebox to sing. My dad did Copperhead Road, my new husband and one of my friends did You're the Voice and when no one wanted to sing the Jukebox just played music that people wanted to hear. We loved it :D

    0 agree
  21. We had karaoke at our wedding and it turned out horrible. Our DJs microphones kept going from really soft to blaringly loud and she was downloading karaoke versions of songs when people requested them, so it wasn't like she was prepared with a library. Only one friend signed up to sing. After 3 songs with the wonky microphones and no one else seemed to be enjoying it I went to the DJ and asked her to start playing dance music again. So just make sure you have lots of willing participants and good equipment!!! :o)

    1 agrees
  22. I went to a wedding with Rock Band and it was awesome. I think what was important was that it was NOT the music entertainment. They had a DJ doing the music, but the rock band was tucked away in a corner so that people doing that could crowd around and enjoy and those who wanted to dance to a DJ had their own space.

    3 agree
  23. As long as you want the karaoke, have it. As for song availability, speak with the DJ. Our DJ (who is AMAZING!), has different lists for different gigs (e.g. business appropriate, grandma appropriate)

    We are absolutely including karaoke in our reception–it's a must-have for us. Our venue is a stage and attached studio space, so we'll be able to have a different feed piped in at a lower volume to the non-stage area.

    As for non-participation–many of our guests sing have sung with us before at karaoke or choir. On the other hand, I went to a work Christmas party two years ago (about 200 attended) when I ended up with two turns in the first fifteen minutes of karaoke because no one else was participating. I guess it depends on your guests… :)

    0 agree
  24. Our venue is no alcohol, so we said yes to karaoke. It's also the most "no judgment" karaoke team (wife and husband) I've ever seen. The only places I've seen people with special needs get up and sing without being mocked are the bars where A&A set up. BUT, if there were to be booze, we might have gone with iPod and speakers instead. Some of my family isn't known to use moderation, and the As shouldn't have to deal with my drunken idiot relatives trying to take the mic all day.

    0 agree
  25. We started out wanting Rock Band for our reception, but getting the XBox up the mountain to our B&B venue turned out to be way too much trouble. Our coordinator found a karaoke machine that could also double as speakers for music and speeches and such, and it was much more affordable than getting a full sound system. Most of our guests that stayed late into the night were the ones that had rented hotel rooms nearby, who also happened to be our geeky younger friends. Everyone else left fairly early so they wouldn't be driving down the mountain too late, and by about 8:30 we'd cracked out the karaoke! We had so much fun with it, even after we had to move it indoors. Two of our friends ended up in the living room, singing their hearts out, long after the rest of us went into the other room and started in on another game of Cards Against Humanity.

    I think whether it's a good or bad idea probably depends on who your guests are. If you think the people that will be there later are the type that would have fun with it, go for it! Maybe just do it later, when they're the only ones left, or have it somewhere where people don't have to participate or listen to it if they don't want to.

    0 agree
  26. My husband and I fell in love over karaoke while living in Japan, so having it at our wedding was a given. We did a first duet instead of a first dance (I Got You, Babe). We found a karaoke DJ, and it was great.

    Some things that helped: I talked it up a lot to my family, and we included info about it on our wedsite. My tone-deaf mother, bless her, went out and learned a duet to do with my father. It didn't sound fantastic, but it meant a lot. My nine-year-old cousin sang constantly, and other family members went up in groups. My husband's side wasn't so keen on it. Not sure if that's because they weren't as prepared, or just English shyness. Sometimes eight or ten aunties would get up and do some ABBA as a group, but that was about it.

    In between karaoke sets, there was dance music. I was happy with how it turned out, mostly, and definitely recommend it.

    As far as alcohol goes, we provided two bottles of wine on each table, as well as a toasting drink, and after that it was a cash bar. No big drinkers in our family so that wasn't an issue for us.

    0 agree
  27. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but that isn't something I'd enjoy sitting through at a wedding. It's like when someone tells you "Oh boy, you must hear my kid sing / tap dance / recite the ABCs while doing a handstand. SUZY, COME DOWNSTAIRS AND SHOW AUNTIE MARY YOUR TALENT! You're gonna love this (awkward, cringe inducing, seemingly unending) little number she does…."

    0 agree
  28. My sister did this and it was kind of a FLOP. The guests really determine if it will be a success or not. This wedding was overrun with family and few friends. Most people just wanted to dance. My aunt said, in response to my dad commenting on them just sitting down, "Well we were having a good time dancing until you guys started singing!" People feel uncomfortable dancing when someone is ruining a song. I personally only think karaoke is fun if everyone is drinking or in close company which isn't the case with many weddings where you feel obligated to invite people in front of whom you might not be comfortable jokingly "twerking" to Baby Got Back. If you're going for a small, intimate group of guests who frequently enjoy karaoke, I say go for it. Yes, there was one little girl who did karaoke halfway through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and some other song, my dad jokingly insisted on Sublime's Santeria towards my mother, his ex-wife…spiteful jokes wedding-appropriate if played out through karaoke? yikes. My sister is also not really the outgoing type comfortable in front of crowds and neither is her husband so I don't know why she was so set on having karaoke…she wouldn't even go up there on her own and only went up once or twice surrounded by mom and sis. If you and a majority of your guests don't do it all the time, it's probably not a great idea.

    0 agree
  29. I think Karaoke at wedding its good idea and its such a nice advice that you put music system at wedding.

    0 agree
  30. We are both going to be 54 when we get married in June…we were high school sweethearts that reunited 2 years ago. We both love to have fun and love to see our friends have fun…we thought that we would have a dj with a great play list from the 70's and 80's and then offer a smattering of karaoke as well…not have the whole reception dominated by it. I think opening up with some killer dance songs will limber our guest's up and get them ready to sing later on….I love the idea and didn't even know it was something other wedding couples were doing….let the fun and craziness begin!!!

    0 agree

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