I have been a Pro DJ for over 15 years having played at thousands of events. The most frequent concern I have from potential clients at meetings is: “What kind of music do you play?”
I say concern, instead of question, as invariably they have been to a recent event where the DJ has cleared a dance floor on several occasions, over played inappropriate tracks and switched between music genres in an incoherent way, and do not want this happening on their big day.
There are obvious reasons why this can happen i.e. inexperienced wedding DJ, an older DJ who does not understand recent music or a young DJ who does not understand the classics, or worst of all a DJ who hates doing weddings, booked by a rubbish agency and has done it just for the money, as there was nothing else that day.
These and other obvious reasons for a bad performance can usually be avoided by making sure you book with a top rated reputable Wedding DJ in the area where you are having your Wedding – with lots of testimonials however, I do not want to go off topic as this comes under “choosing the best DJ for your wedding”. A subject I will cover in a future article. What I want to talk about here specifically is your wedding music selection or playlist.
Most Wedding DJ’s these days offer some sort of selection form or online music database where you can add your favourite songs to make sure these tracks are played at your wedding, however if this not used with care it can give the DJ a distorted and confused view of your music requirements. This can easily be avoided by taking the following ideas into consideration.
Provided you are confident in your musical tastes and those of your guests, a well thought out song list is an invaluable tool for the client and the DJ to make sure the music is not only the particular songs you want but allows the DJ to program the music mixing and switching subtly between genres to make the music flow all night. In fact offering a music selection method, has become one of the most important requirements when choosing a DJ.
I would never advise you to give the DJ a rigid playlist which you want played in exact order – the DJ needs the flexibility to play the right song at the right time which can vary between events.
Choosing your wedding music songs.
A Lot of Wedding DJ websites list the most requested 200 wedding songs from different eras and styles plus the top 200 current and recent chart requests which are kept up to date. (Over the years particular songs come in and out of fashion) this is a good tool to start choosing and adding to your song selections for your wedding playlist.
The most successful wedding receptions are those that include a large variety of musical genres. A good wedding DJ will take into account the client’s requested tracks and use their experience to play the right music at the right time to suit that particular occasion.
The image of a wedding DJ is someone who plays the most cheesy music of all time. This should not be the case. Professional wedding DJ’s will spend many hours planning each, taking into consideration the clients wishes so that the music played makes the party unique for them.
At weddings, or any function with a mixed aged audience we would usually try to avoid anything too specialised such as Heavy Metal, Industrial, Hard-core, Trance or non-commercial Dance Music unless specifically requested by the client – where they believe that it would be appreciated by friends or relations. One thing you can guarantee is that if you list lots of songs that you do not like or would not dance to then nor will your guests!
Listing your selected wedding music.
As a Professional Wedding DJ this is the format that works best for me.
Over a 4 hour event you have time for only about 80 – 120 songs. Therefore I would limit your list to about 80 tracks to give the DJ some flexibility to add a few suitable complimentary tracks into the mix to make it flow.
Divide your song list into musical genres “as you see them”.
Musical genres are very subjective or too vague so by doing this it gives the DJ a Method of evaluating your preferences from your perspective.
Highlight or mark the “must play songs” but remember the time constraint, so I would limit this to around 30% of your list. The more must play songs you add, the value of each of these songs is reduced in significance. These are the basis of the music played on the night, keep these limited but this will avoid giving equal importance to all songs making sure they have priority.
Open a word document or excel spread sheet.
Firstly list your first dance and any other starting dance as required “bride and father of the bride” or “with parents” etc. and the song by artist and – song title.
Then list the genre as you see it with your chosen songs in that genre listed by artist and – song title. Following this, the next genre as you see it with theses chosen tracks added underneath and so on till you have completed your list.
Lastly I would finish with a black list or instructions of songs that you do not want played. No Macarena, YMCA, novelty songs, boy bands or Status Quo.
Any good wedding DJ will now be able to see clearly your musical preferences, and will now be able to program the songs into an order where they can swap between genres and keep the dance floor full.
DJ Wedding Requests from guests.
Most couples just want a DJ to play the right music to get their guests on the dance floor having a good time. Allowing requests will keep at least some of your guests happy, but a badly chosen song can spoil the atmosphere or even clear the dance floor? This decision falls to personal preference. Some people allow requests but place limits, such as nothing tacky. For more control you can allow requests but give your DJ a black list: no Birdy Dance or novelty songs and no girl bands.