Getting married? 5 tips for picking your wedding music (from a DJ).

The Gloss came up with some great tips for wedding do’s and don’ts on Facebook, including how much information to post and how often.  So it made me think, where else could future brides and grooms use some advice?  Music.  I’ve DJed a good number of weddings, and here’s my advice to you:

1. For your first dance, pick a short song.
It doesn’t have to be a slow song, but you should be able to move to it. This is your first time dancing as a married couple, so the song should obviously have special meaning to you two – it doesn’t have to be “your song,” but pick something that represents you, your relationship, and your personalities.  If your first date was at a Green Day concert, that’s fine, but pick something a little more romantic.  Keep in mind that everyone at the wedding will be watching you, so try to pick something that’s 3 minutes or less – otherwise it’ll get boring (and awkward) for you, your partner, and everyone watching.  If your song is 4:15, talk to the DJ about editing the song to a shorter version – make a custom edit with one less verse or a fade out, especially if it’s a song most people won’t know. (I’ve seen people start clapping halfway through a five minute song all too often.)  And practice dancing to it – you don’t need to take lessons, but if you can do one or two little “moves” to entertain the people watching, that’s huge.

2. Mother/son and father/daughter dances should be short, too.
The first dance is special to the bride and groom, but it’s also special to everyone at the wedding – they’ll love taking pictures and gushing over how “in love” the newlyweds look. Most weddings will typically have a dance for the groom and his mother, as well as the bride and her father. For these, the crowd is again expected to stand around and watch, but let’s be honest – these moments are special only to the people in them.  The bride, the groom, their parents.  Here, it’s better to pick a song the crowd will know (and can sing along with) and even more important to pick a short song or make a custom edit.  2 minutes may sound short, but it’ll cover two verses and two choruses (usually) and will give everyone their “moment” without wearing the patience and attention of your audience.

3. Dinner music is for the background.
Obviously no dance music should occur when people are trying to eat, chat and (probably) have a few drinks to loosen up for dancing.  Here, more classics and romantic tunes would make the most sense, but don’t assume it should be all Frank Sinatra and Rod Stewart.  Picking songs for this part of the night isn’t as important as simply giving a few suggestions, and that’ll let the DJ know how much variety to throw in here.  This part is all about atmosphere, so sweet and gentle pop tunes work best.  Cliché songs like Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat’s “Lucky” are actually good here.

4. Pick music for everyone to enjoy – a little of this, a little of that.
At the average wedding, the guest list age range is from 2 months to 92 years old.  If you like one particular kind of music (say, country) that’s fine but make sure you’re still picking a few oldies that grandma will like, maybe a couple Disney-pop tunes for younger nieces and nephews.  In other words, play a little something for everybody – for different age groups, different genres; a little new, a little old; some fast, some slow.

5. Do NOT pick every song that you want played – let the DJ choose some music for the dancing hour.
Who’s the professional here?  You may love music (who doesn’t?) and make great iPod playlists for road trips, but how much experience do you have picking music for 100+ people?  Do you know what everyone wants to hear?  And when?  If you’ve hired a good DJ, they’ll know when to play Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson, if they’ll like swing, or if a new hip-hop song will work for the crowd.  A good rule of thumb is to come up with three lists – 1) songs you definitely want played, 2) songs you absolutely do not want played (i.e. “YMCA”), and 3) a general list of songs you’d like to have played. Then give the DJ the freedom to choose when to play the songs, take requests, and to read the crowd or play different music not on your lists – again, if you’ve hired a good DJ, they’ll know what to do to make you happy and entertain your guests.  It’s your day, but you want your friends and family to have fun on your day, too. There’s more to a good party than free food and drink.

Looking for a DJ? I’d love to DJ your event, and I’d also be happy to answer any questions or make suggestions to make your wedding the best possible experience for both you and your guests.