Getting the music right for your Wedding Reception
Here is a little blog post to help you overcome the most common mistakes couples make when selecting songs to be played at the wedding reception.
The first bit of advice I'd ever give to any couples is never to send out invitations which invite song requests for their reception. Any DJ worth their salt will be able to pre-empt what will be returned. The problem with many pre-requests is they are influenced by the mood you find yourself in. Far too often songs returned are unsuitable for dancing or will clear the floor for any number of reasons.
Not all music is created to make people dance, a lot of music is more for the listener and is more suitable for other activities. Think about driving music, the stuff you like to listen to when having a long bath, running music, the songs you might even sing on karaoke. It goes without saying therefore that not all music will work at a wedding reception. This is why DJs don't play all the requests they get and never guarantee to complete a playlist.
Another reason is current music trends, people might select a chart song that is big at present, but if your wedding is over 12 months away that song could have faded into obscurity come the reception. Very few songs become classics and many fade into anonymity, a request that comes on the night for chart music will be fresh and current.
So when you do sit down to select the some of the songs you want to hear at your reception consider the following:
Will you actually be up dancing all night (or for a big part of it)? Some couples just aren't dancers, if this is the case having too much influence on the music could kill the vibe. Might you be best just encouraging requests on the night and letting the DJ take the lead.
Are you making it too personal? Of course get some of your favourite songs in there, especially if they make you want to dance. But if your having 100 people there, how many do you think will dance to that song. Are the songs likely to put people off, I often see people leave the room for music they don't like and if there is a lot of one type of music might it make people leave early?
Have you got the balance right? On a typical night your going to hear around 90 songs. You need songs for the young and old, you want to vary the pace (tired people sit down), you want to encourage all groups to get involved. A DJ with good programming will want to take you on a journey. I tend to take playlists of up to 30 songs, this allows me to take requests and enough flexibility to move between genres and decades.
Do I need to give you a playlist? Not at all. I am interested in what you and your partner like but this can be a list of genres, bands, I've even had couples who've been to previous weddings say we loved the music on that night. I'm happy to get an email saying we love Indie, Rock and Pop Punk especially bands like the Killers, or Our vibe is definitely Ibiza classics with lots of Dance Bangers and Clubland, but we're happy to get some Soul and Motown in the mix.
What about songs that mean something? Of course these have a place, stag anthems, songs you danced to on the hen night with your bridesmaids, get them on the list and tell me why in the notes. The only songs I say you should avoid or ones that will make you overly emotional because they remind you of loss. Your reception night should be happy so you finish your big day on a high.
Why have you hired a DJ? Yes it often gets overlooked that we have attended more wedding receptions than just about any other person or profession. It often staggers me that over the years I've been to over 500 weddings. So I have a good idea of what works and how to fill a dance floor.
Where not from your region? Why is this even a question you might ask? Believe it or not some genres and styles of music don't travel well. Two quick examples are Garage music which is massive around London and Essex but seldom gets played in the North East, and the likes of Northern Soul, which has a massive following with older people from up North, but just wont resonate with people from outside these circles. If a couple want ceilidh music or specific salsa or bhangra songs they would need to let me know in advance as I don't tend to carry it normally. I am versatile enough to learn and play music I'm not familiar with, and I'll often try to give people exposure to good music from outside their normal selection.
What do I think makes a great party? Openness to adventure, a willing crowd who want to get up and dance and a couple who invested in letting the DJ use their skills with enough direction that they will enjoy it. A great variety of music so there is something for everyone, and the right atmosphere. I'd love to say a DJ alone can make a great party but it would be a lie. We are part of the equation, as are the guests you have invited, the venue you have chosen and the how the day has developed.