Wedding Music: What Do You Want Your Wedding DJ To Do?

Having been involved in the Wedding DJ industry in the Philadelphia area for over three decades, there is one certainty I can depend on… No two clients are exactly the same.

Yet there are archetypes of brides, grooms, couples, and partners, who, in the past thirty years I’ve encountered time and time again, specifically when it comes to music.  And no, I’m not talking about a “bridezilla”, although that one does make me chuckle.  I believe a great wedding DJ is at a great disadvantage when he or she lacks significant input from their client as to what kinds of music they prefer, and more so, what kinds of music they do not prefer.  Communicating these preferences allows the Wedding DJ to formulate his game plan, or strategy based on the desires and vision of the client.

The Specific Wedding Client

Some of our wedding clients come to us with a very specific format in mind, I dare to say in some instances “too specific”.  For example, a bride once came to us with a list of four hundred songs that were “must plays”.  At an average of four minutes a song, that came to 1,600 minutes of music.  The obstacle there was that the average wedding reception is five hours, or 300 minutes.  Again, the four minutes is an average, yet even at three minutes per song if narrowed to the shortest on her list, the goal of four hundred songs was simply unattainable.

What we did in this instance, was to go through the list song by song with the client, guiding them toward the selections that would have the best results in getting people on the dance floor.  This particular bride was very open to our suggestions, the result being that she and her fiancee got to hear many of their favorite songs on a now shortened list of very danceable songs.  Subsequently the dance floor was packed all night, a win for the bride and groom, for the guests, and for the Wedding DJ.

The Carte Blanche Wedding Client

The textbook definition of carte blanche is “complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best”, and there are plenty of clients that come to us and say “Just do what you do”.  Naturally, we are flattered when our reputation speaks for itself and a client is willing to give us the latitude to pack their dance floor whatever way we see fit, yet even then, client input is invaluable.  Being prepared is the key to success.  A great DJ will still do his or her best to extract music preferences from the client, and then go ahead and rock their reception.

The Non-Danceable Selections Client

While the default of any great Wedding DJ is to get as many of your guests dancing as humanly possible, sometimes the client has other ideas.  Getting their guests to dance may not be their MO, and opt for a more chill atmosphere, constructing a list of songs that reflect that mood.  Of course, there will always be a few guests who ask “When are you going to play something we can dance to?”, however the DJ sticks to his guns, following a very stringent format.

From time to time a potential client will come to us and say “We were just at a wedding and the DJ was terrible because nobody danced” and I think to myself that it’s very possible that was because the DJ was doing exactly as the client instructed.  This also goes for “We were at a wedding and the DJ played terrible music that I did not like”.  Once again, it’s more than likely the DJ was doing what the client wanted.

In summary, if you are the client and it is your wedding, what is your objective? If it’s a packed dance floor with music played for all generations, the result will almost certainly be that your guests had an amazing time.  If there are a lot of non-danceable songs you’d like to hear at your wedding, those can be fit in during cocktail and dinner, which are times people typically do not dance at a reception.  Once more, the balance of danceable vs. non-danceable song selections – or lack thereof – is ultimately up to the you, the client.

Before you select a Wedding DJ, try to have an idea of what it is you would ultimately like to achieve at your wedding, musically speaking.  If you want most of the people to dance most of the time, take into consideration your guests, and the generations they span, and choose your music accordingly.  During the interview process, be sure to ask the DJ questions and get their input as well.  If they are good, and they have experience, they should have great ideas.  Then it’s up to you to decide how much free reign you give them in regard to what songs to play.

In my experience the best strategy involves a balance of songs the client really wants to hear, and songs the DJ knows will get people up and dancing.  Also leave some space for your guests to make requests at your wedding of songs they would like to hear.  This always works.

Craig Sumsky
Cutting Edge Entertainment

Leave a Reply