Tips For Your Wedding DJ

You and your fiancé have your favorite songs, you know what you both like and you want your wedding DJ to know that too. Makes sense. But how do you get the music you want and the songs you love at your reception without micromanaging or giving your DJ a tour of your extensive CD collection? We consulted our DJ Manager, Mike Hongslo, for tips on how to get the most out of your DJ and your reception music. And now, we’ve compiled a guide for you.

A closeup of a bride dancing with someone on her wedding day

Hit Play

The first big decision after you’ve hired a wedding DJ is to pick a small playlist of songs you love and make a do-not-play list. Hongslo suggests choosing between 10 and 15 songs for your playlist, but says to limit your playlist to no more than 30 songs. This will give your DJ a good idea of what you like and what you’re looking for in your reception music repertoire, while also allowing the DJ some freedom to work with their knowledge and experience, and gauge the crowd. A playlist of approximately 15 songs gives the DJ an indication of your style and a baseline of where to go with your reception music, rather than the DJ having no idea what you and your fiancé like or prefer. However, Hongslo says, deciding all the songs for the reception by creating your own playlist, or constricting your DJ with an extensive do-not-play list will prevent them from using their knowledge and experience to get people onto the dance floor and make your reception fun and memorable. Instead, add the songs you love to your playlist and put songs that you are sick of or in doubt about on your do-not-play list. If you’re indifferent or okay with a song, you don’t need to add it to either list, but definitely don’t bar the song from your reception if you wouldn’t mind it being played. Hongslo’s biggest piece of advice for couples as they plan their playlist and do-not-play list is to trust the DJ do their job.

Slow Down to Pump Up

Slow dances create momentum, Hongslo says. Although it may seem like a break in your dance party, slow dances are a comfortable point for new dancers to enter the floor. Why don’t your guests flock to the dance floor for classic dance songs or your all-time favorite jam? Often they are afraid of looking or feeling silly by showing off their moves in a faster song. But, slow dancing is more comfortable for most people and doesn’t require an excessive amount of skill. Even those who claim to have two left feet can usually pull of a slow dance or two. These songs are key, Hongslo says, to getting people out on the dance floor. Once your guests are on the dance floor and enjoying themselves, they are more likely to stay for “Shut Up and Dance” or “Don’t Stop Believing”. With this method in mind, include a few slow songs on your playlist so that your DJ knows what slow songs to go to and what your style is for those slower dances.

Dance Fever

Group dances can be a point of concern in your playlist. Hongslo advises that you only put them on your do not play list if you’re truly sick of them and do not want to “Cupid Shuffle,” “Cha Cha Slide” or “Electric Slide” in your wedding attire. However, he also says that they eliminate fear or discomfort for people who are not inclined to dance, by allowing them to dance along easily. The group dance classics are staple songs for getting many people out on the dance floor, which is something to consider before disregarding them.

Although it can be tempting to give your guests free reign, Hongslo suggests to let your DJ decide on requests. Accepting all requests has its dangers – the Pokémon theme song, that annoying song from the awkward middle school years, you get the idea. Instead, let your DJ accept requests as they see fit with your vision for your dance. Trust your DJ’s experience and expertise. However, before you restrain your crazy relatives from making any requests, remember that when people request a song they are basically saying they will dance to this song. And often, they will bring their friends onto the floor too, so requests can be utilized to pack the floor.

To involve your guests in the reception music, use songs in lieu of clinking glasses. Instead of simply ringing their glasses, individuals or groups have to sing a song with the word love in it to get the newlyweds to kiss. Think “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley, “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, or a Lion King favorite “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. Have your guests sit or stand in a specific place to perform their a capella love song, which will give the guests notice of a song that they might join in on.

Dance the Night Away

The father-daughter dance, mother-son dance and the first dance are all special moments in your reception. Hongslo says, as a rule of thumb, to pick a song for each that has significance for that relationship. He says to pick a song that reminds you of your S.O. for the first dance. For the father-daughter and mother-son dances, let the parent pick each song. Encourage them to pick a song that reminds them of their daughter and son, or a special moment in their child’s life. This is a huge opportunity for the parent to create a really special moment for them and their child during their reception, and they will feel honored to get to participate in the planning and song selection. For father-daughter dances, people often bookend the song with a slower piece, and have a minute or so of a faster, fun or silly song in the middle to keep the guests on their toes and entertained. Most of all, Hongslo says, pick a song that is meaningful but don’t overthink it. It’s important, but it will be special no matter what and as long as you are pleased with the song, you will be happy with the memories created and moments captured.

Here Comes the Bride

The processional song is an important part of every wedding. Lighter, more rhythmic songs are replacing organ pipes – think “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. And, while “Canon in D” is by far the most popular and long-lasting aisle song, instrumental covers of popular hits are also becoming big for processional pieces. Hongslo says current pieces include “A Thousand Years” by the Piano Guys, which is a cover of Christina Perri’s 2011 version, or anything by Vitamin String Quartet, which is an orchestral group that does string instrumental renditions of popular songs.