Everyone attending your wedding has different musical tastes, and there seems to be no accounting for it. Yes, it’s even common for the bride and groom to share opposing views about music. What one calls a “great” song, the other gives a thumbs down. That’s the way it works with music. Part of life and what makes the world go round’ I guess.
What’s even more amazing, is to see this process through the eyes of a DJ. Music lovers come in all types, “I love this song”, “Turn it up!”, “Get this song off I hate it”, “Turn it down”, “Play more country”, “Play something for us older folks”, “Play more disco” “Do you have electronic music?”,” get the point? Everyone’s musical preferences are different. A smart and experienced DJ knows this, and now YOU do.
With so many opinions and different tastes about music kicking around, how do you know whether your musical choices are danceable? It’s tricky, but you can make it a fun challenge.
Here are few insights that can help you from the vantage point of an experienced Cape Cod Wedding DJ who has observed thousands of crowds. You can use these helpful tips to guide you toward getting the most mileage out of your music planning.
If you know a little about the process your DJ uses to pick great dance songs, you might be better at choosing some yourself??
Some basics: Every wedding reception is unique, and so is every couple getting married. Night weddings have a different vibe than day weddings. Even the same exact crowd can respond much differently on another night. So it is not as easy as picking a playlist and hitting home run.
Even weather can play a role. If it’s Sunny day wedding, everyone loves being outside, so success is not always measured by the dance response. With sunshine, happiness comes from everyone being in the sun an not on the dance floor. On rainy days, it’s the opposite, everyone gravitates inside and parties.
So the upside of a rainy day wedding is that you will be more likely to have a packed dance floor even at a day wedding.
A Few General Facts & Helpful Tips:
Fact A non-danceable song choice can quickly empty a full dance floor.
Fact Every song played after the parent dances or special dances should be a monster hit that everyone will love and get up to dance to.
Fact Everyone wants a packed dance floor, whether you’re choosing a band or DJ. We all have the same goal.
Picking the right tune to play at the perfect moment is an art. It only comes with time spent doing. Reading crowds and moods is a skill that cannot be learned reading a book.
Choosing the best song for a given moment involves paying careful attention to what is happening. It’s having keen awareness of the mood at your reception on a given day and time. Now of course if you’re at your wedding you should be having fun. Your “task” of choosing the best dance music is now behind you, and was completed when you met with our DJ.
You’ve used your new found wisdom to choose the perfect danceable songs, now you’re wise enough to let your DJ do their job and enjoy your reception.
When in doubt about a potentially danceable song, you are wise to ask your DJ this question; “Do you think this song has what it takes to get people dancing?” See what they say. An experienced DJ will definitely know the answer. You want your reception to fun and flowing.
Tip: Timing is everything. When to play fast, slow, current, classic, older, background etc.
Fact Carbohydrate songs can kill a mood and clear your dance floor.
What’s a Carbohydrate song? DJ Tommy Tuttle’s definition of a Carbohydrate song = “One which you love hearing at the gym when you’re working out, or driving in your car, or in your college dorm. It’s a song you think is really amazing and cool, and worked really well in your aerobics class, and you think everyone is gonna rock and jam to it at your wedding.
When the DJ reluctantly plays your carbo song choice, because you insisted, your dance floor clears. “OMG What happened to my cool song?” You just witnessed what happens when a non-experienced person chooses what song to play. Your carbo choice had dance floor punch, not enticing riff. That’s what happens with carbos.
Tip: Avoid “Carbo” songs! They lack the necessary punch to energize your dance floor. Yes, they work at the gym or in your car, but have absolutely no place at your wedding except for perhaps your cocktail hour where SOME “Carbo” songs seem to be appropriate, such as a possible musical background bed for some special event.
You will likely have guests attending your wedding that you don’t realize that their request is a non-danceable “carbo” tune. DJs know what those songs are and we’re all remiss at even wanting to name them : – )
Tip: Let your DJ decide whether the “carbo” song is workable for some other part of your day, such as the cocktail hour, dinner, or perhaps for your cake cutting. A great DJ will work hard for you to protect your playlist from those who might request non-danceable tunes. Be sure to give your DJ the autonomy to guard your list from those tunes.
The Iron and the Light bulb
What do you mean when you say a crowd has to be warmed up like an iron, and not switched on like a light bulb? I want to party right now!
You may want to party right now, but it’s rare when most everyone else in the room feels that way you do. The iron and the light bulb theory is useful to know as dinner is finishing, just before the cake and special dances. This is often what happens. There is often a well-meaning guest, all kind by the way, or perhaps even a small handful, whom might have partied all day, who are ready to hear a top monster hit right this second, even though most of the guests have not even folded their napkin after just finishing dinner. They run over to the DJ and say, “get this party going,” not having a clue the DJ is well aware of the mood and what is happening. They think they are the only one in the room with pulse on things. They have no clue or understanding of the way audiences work. That every tone and mood in a room has a beginning middle and end, again, timing. It’s also unlikely they even care what the DJ has to say about this. They just want what they want and now. Every skilled DJ works with this dynamic every weekend.
Fact: Getting a crowd going is like warming up an iron, not turning on a light. Those who don’t do this for a living every weekend would not understand this concept. Yes, some crowds can just switch on, but it’s rare. Every skilled DJ has their own tricks on getting your dance floor warmed up and energized. I call it dance floor kindling music. Yes, like kindling wood, only we’re doing it with music.
Play every song we put on our music list and play it in the exact order will listed them!
This theory rarely works. Some couples choose monster hits and want them played too early when most of the guests are not ready. You’re wasting really great tunes if you insist on this method.
Tip: Wise wedding couples have faith in their DJs ability and talents to read your crowd and make you and everyone really happy. A music list for your DJ is a great idea. However, resist the temptation to handicap your DJ by imposing an order., as doing so can significantly reduce the dancing impact. Smart couples enjoy their wedding and don’t try to play DJ. Give your DJ the freedom to read the crowd and “warm up the dance floor.” Have the confidence your songs will be played by someone who knows how to pay careful attention to what is happening in the room.
If your goal is a packed dance floor, then giving your DJ the autonomy to use their skills and experience to read your crowd and do what they do. That means picking 10 to 20 monster dance tunes that everyone loves, then leave some breathing room for your DJ to take the pulse the atmosphere to do the rest.
Tip: Some older folks get really turned off if we come out of the gate with a high-powered dance tune. Do you really want to alienate them? If you do, then you could be excluding a portion of your crowd. Keep that in mind. You’ll go a long way in including them by allowing a few slower tunes after your parent dances when the dance floor is open to everyone.
Tip: A great DJ will not transition from playing dinner music to a monster upbeat dance song. Yes, there are exceptions, as with everything in life. However, as a general rule, just let your DJ do their job and warm everyone up. While we’re at it… a tip about that new song that just came out that has not been tested. Your reception is not the place to break in new music unless it has a proven track record.
What do you mean Beware of the Dance Party Buzz Killer? Do you mean if you played the song they wanted they energy in the room could be dragged down? Yes! That’s what I mean. They might want something to fast to quickly, or perhaps a carbo song. Each would have its own dampening consequence and side effect.
There is another dynamic that can happen at wedding reception know as the the buzz killer guest. As the bride and groom, you’re there to have fun. So don’t you worry about this type of guest. We’ll handle them : – ) They are wonderful guests, and they don’t mean to kill the mood. They just don’t know any better and think they know better than your DJ how to energize your dancefloor. The buzz killer might say things to the DJ such as, “when are you gonna plan some real music.” If you can believe this, the actually say this when your dance floor is packed with 200 people that are having so much fun they are even swinging from the chandeliers! Amazing.
The dance party buzz killer doesn’t see this, they just want to hear “Freebird” (Great tune for the right place, but not now please as your dance floor will clear?). Don’t worry, it’s all ok. We know how to work with this type of request. We have learned from experience that some music lovers are not capable of understanding a dancing crowd, nor is it likely they ever will.
Tip: Give your DJ permission and freedom to use their experience to deal with buzz killer so you wedding stays fun and flowing.
Line Dances: Most couples don’t want them. That’s fine because most DJs don’t play them. However, as with everything in life, there are exceptions. For instance, some couples DO want to hear “The Chicken Dance” for some special guest, such as a grandparent or child etcetera. An experience DJ will always remains flexible to your unique taste.
Here is one of several online chart I use to stay current. Note: Just because you find a chart featuring the most popular music at a given time does not mean all of the songs are danceable.
How Many Songs Should We Pick?
Couples often tell me that their most enjoyable planning “task” is choosing their music. Keep it that way. If you keep it simple, you’ll enjoy the process. Have fun, and don’t to be your own DJ by trying to “guess” which songs might work. It’s extremely unlikely you have that kind of experience to gauge the dancing mood. Let us do that for you.
Tip: Have faith in your DJs’ ability to do what your hired them to do. Let me use their talent, skills and experience and crowd reading ability to help you have a great wedding. Be happy on your wedding day. Relax, enjoy, be the Cape Cod Newlyweds, not the DJ. Your wedding will be fun and stress-free :- ) TT