The 5 Must-Follow Wedding Music Rules for 2018
You may be planning every last detail of your wedding, from the decor to the favors, but it turns out that your guests will be focused on one thing at your reception: dancing!
According to a recent WeddingWire survey, 95 percent of guests say that wedding music will determine how much fun they have during a reception. That’s more important than the food they eat and the decorations displayed. Couples should take their time in hiring the right wedding band or DJ, and once they do, think about the songs they want to dance to, the songs they think will get their guests on the dance floor, and most importantly, keep them there all night long.
Here are some tips and trends in wedding music to inspire your reception playlist.
Make a playlist
To draft a playlist for a wedding, couples should ask their wedding bandleader or DJ for recommendations. These pros will be able to offer suggestions on the biggest dance floor hits—and the songs not to include in your wedding playlist. In addition to speaking with the pros, over half of engaged couples (56 percent) will research song list ideas online via a Google search or use a music-streaming site (44 percent) like Spotify to find songs to play at their wedding reception.
Brides and grooms can also ask their friends and family for their favorite (and least favorite) tunes. Moms and dads may have great ideas from Motown, disco and the ‘80s, while friends of the couple can recommend hits from the ‘90s, ‘00s and today. You may be surprised to learn that Whitney Houston’s 1987 hit, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is the most requested song to play at weddings with 30 percent of guests choosing it as their favorite. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé and Jay Z round out the top five must-play wedding songs, according to guests.
And your do-not-play list doesn’t have to be long. 43 percent of couples create a do-not-play list for their wedding with an average of 4 to 10 songs on it.
Photo: Svetlana Photography
Skip the line dances
Unless you’re having a country-themed wedding where line dancing fits in naturally, tell the band or DJ not to play group dance numbers. The surest way to clear the dance floor is to play one of these dance floor buzz kills: “Chicken Dance” (44 percent of guests will leave the dance floor as soon as they hear it), “Macarena” (34 percent), “YMCA” (31 percent) and a conga line (23 percent). And while “Cotton-Eyed Joe” is not a line dance, you can still expect almost a third of your guests to take their seats if they hear it.
This group dancing warning does not include cultural dances, such as the hora, which are more likely to get guests out of their seats to celebrate the newlyweds.
Pick meaningful songs for special dances
Of all the wedding music played during a reception, couples are most likely to remember the songs chosen for “important dances”: the first dance, parent dances, and the last song of the night. In fact, 91 percent of millennial couples can remember their first dance song.
So what song should you play during your first dance? The majority of couples choose a song that reflects their relationship or how they met. One out of every two first dance songs are picked because the lyrics reflect the couple’s relationship in some way.
And many of them are keeping their dance moves spontaneous. Only 11 percent of couples are choreographing their first dance and even less, 8 percent, are taking dance lessons before the big day.
As for parent dances, over 50 percent of couples will remember the song they danced to with their moms and dads. When picking these songs, ask your parents for their input. They may have their own idea of what they want to dance to based on their feelings and memories of you as a child.
Photo: James Tang Photography
Fast beats slow every time
Wedding guests prefer fast, upbeat songs to slow songs at wedding receptions, with 1 in 4 guests favoring Top 40 hits and popular ‘80s tunes. But wedding music choices tend to vary by generation. Gen Xers prefer tunes from their childhood (‘80s songs) followed by popular music today, while millennials have more eclectic tastes with popular music as their top preference, followed by hip hop and country.
For couples who are concerned that some wedding music may alienate groups of guests – either young or old – it’s best to stick to a playlist of current hits, ‘80s and oldies (Motown and disco) to ensure that everyone has fun on the dance floor.
With the music of the ‘80s so popular with both Generation X and millennials, consider adding these top 5 requested tunes from the decade that wedding guests and newlyweds love to dance to:
- “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston
- “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
- “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!
- “All Night Long (All Night)” by Lionel Richie
- “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive
Good music = good wedding
Music can make or break a wedding. A great band or DJ can get guests on the dance floor and keep them there for hours. In fact 65 percent of wedding guests will spend at least half of the reception on the dance floor. And after so much time on their feet, it’s not a surprise that over half of them will kick off their shoes to keep the party going.
Take mental notes at the weddings you attend leading up to your own big day to see which songs are popular and what songs clear the floor, and ask for advice on what wedding music will ensure that everyone has a rockin’ good time at your reception. You may decide that guests can request songs, 60 percent of guests try to, or encourage a dance-off at the wedding. (Almost a quarter of wedding guests have admitted to participating in one.)
But most importantly, it’s about creating a great soundtrack to celebrate this memorable day with the people you love.
We are sure you have heard of or read the horror stories about the unprofessional, tacky DJ or the DJ that only played their style of music and refused to take any requests from the floor. Here is a general breakdown of what you should expect to pay for DJ services according to your event needs.
DJ prices may vary for non-wedding events. For example, small private parties/small corporate event prices will typically be lower in comparison to the prices for larger scale corporate events.
Setting your budget for your wedding depends on what type of experience you would like to have. If you don’t want the risk of having an inexperienced DJ who may play inappropriate music, not consider timing or coordination with other vendors or simply not have the knowledge to carry out emceeing/announcements; please consider the following.
$300 – $500 Usually a beginning DJ, most likely a part-time hobbyist.
$600 – $1000 A little more experienced, may have a robotic personality and stays within mainstream music playlists. The beginner and mediocre DJs may be a part of a venue package, which means the venue may charge $1000 for DJ services and pay their DJ $500. In essence, this means you are getting the quality of a $500 DJ!
$1,100 – $2,500 Much more experienced, professionally trained, possibly a full-time DJ or part of a company like MY DJs who provide the training to become a well seasoned, interactive DJ and emcee. These pros are chameleons and can improvise to a client’s custom requests. The DJs in this category commit a lot of their time to making sure the weddings they facilitate are as close to the dream wedding their clients envisioned. They make sure they have top notch, high quality equipment along with back up equipment. They also spend hours studying the important details that lead to a smooth running wedding program. This kind of preparation shows through in their accessibility to help clients with questions, coordination and suggestions to help drive the success of their wedding.
We have a state of the art showroom where we can discuss all the details regarding your special event. By having a meeting at our studio instead of the nearest coffee shop, we ensure you a fun “mini reception” demonstration where you can view the services we offer live.
Lastly, we are known as one of the best wedding DJ companies in San Diego. We have venue recommendations, great reviews and 15 years of consistently delivering an awesome DJ/Emcee experience time after time!
The music can make or break a party, which means the band or DJ is one of the most important factors of your reception. And you definitely don’t want to hire someone without thoroughly vetting them first. Ask the below questions when you meet with any potential musicians to find the right fit for you.
1. How would you describe your style?
Why You Want to Know: You need to figure out if their style will work with the vibe you’re going for. If you want an elegant cocktail party with lots of casual conversation, a band that describes itself as “rock and roll with a whole lotta edge” is a music mismatch. (And if you’re having trouble determining what kind of band or DJ you want, do some research on The Knot Marketplace or GigMasters—both can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.)
2. Can we come take a quick peek at a wedding you’re working?
Why You Want to Know: Seeing them perform live will give you the best idea about what your wedding entertainment would actually sound and feel like. While most musicians and the couples that hire them mutually agree in advance that the wedding is closed to prospective clients, some will have mini “concerts” for the public to attend and see whether they’re a good fit or not.
3. Do you know our reception space and its acoustic, power and amplification requirements? If not, will you check it out beforehand?
Why You Want to Know: Your musicians may need an extension cord, backup generator or other supplies, and it’s important to know this beforehand. If they don’t want to check out your venue, cross them off your list.
4. Can you play the songs that are important to us, such as a traditional Jewish hora tune or a favorite pop hit?
Why You Want to Know: The band or DJ should be able to play, learn or download any tune you’d like. If a band says “yes,” but they’ll need to learn and/or arrange it, ask them if they’ll charge for that.
5. How many musicians are in the band, and available? How many vocalists? Are there different options as far as how many musicians/instruments we can hire?
Why You Want to Know: If you’re interviewing a DJ, you want to know if they work with a partner, and if it’s a band, who exactly would be there on the day of. Note: Hiring only a portion of an amazing band is a smart way to stick to a strict budget.
6. Would we need to rent any instruments (a piano, for example) or equipment (extra speakers or a stage)?
Why You Want to Know: Find out exactly what equipment they bring, and what you need to rent (or borrow from the venue). You’ll also want to know if you’ll have to hide equipment if it’s particularly unsightly (with draping, for instance). You want your wedding to be a beautiful event, not look like an electronics store.
7. Do you plan to use lighting or any other special effects?
Why You Want to Know: Beyond music, some pros may bring special lighting and/or effects, like a fog machine, while others will stick to the tunes. If your pro does amp up his performance with specific effects, they may be standard or they may cost extra, so ask and get all prices written into your contract.
8. Who will do the setup?
Why You Want to Know: The day of the wedding, someone needs to set up the sound system—usually a person from the company supplying the music. You’ll need to give the name of the person to the venue coordinator and arrange a time that works for everyone.
9. How do you ensure a comfortable sound level for all the guests?
Why You Want to Know: You want to have a plan for dealing with volume control and sound-sensitive guests. Here’s the deal: What your 14-year-old cousin thinks is the perfect volume is different from what your 89-year-old great-grandma is willing to put up with. If you have a fun dance-off going, you don’t want people who aren’t participating to have to shout like they’re at a crowded bar.
10. What do you typically wear?
Why You Want to Know: A potential band or DJ will usually have several professional choices for you to pick from such as a tuxedo or simple coordinated outfits, like black shirts and slacks.
11. How many hours are included in the package?
Why You Want to Know: Some musicians and DJs will have a minimum amount of time they’ll play. But beyond that, you’ll also want to know how many breaks they’ll need (and how long they’ll be), and the backup plan for those breaks (such as approved filler music). Tip: Build in these breaks and offer food to your musicians—you don’t want their energy to flag before the last dance.
12. How do you handle song requests?
Why You Want to Know: Check what the protocol will be for making sure your guests hear their favorite tunes—if you even want them to have that creative control. A particular pro may prefer to get requests in certain ways (probably not shouted at them while they’re working).
13. Can you act as the master of ceremonies?
Why You Want to Know: It isn’t guaranteed that your bandleader or DJ will introduce the speech givers, announce your first dance or tell people when dinner is served. Sometimes, a planner will do that or even the best man or maid of honor. Clarify this before you hire them.
14. How many weddings do you typically do in a year?
Why You Want to Know: You’re trying to determine how experienced they are—not only how long they’ve been doing weddings, but also how often. Both are important to understanding how well they can handle your dance floor. Ask to speak to some previous couples. Online reviews tell some of the story, but being able to chat directly with couples who used this band or DJ can give you a clearer picture of what they’re like to work with.
15. Do you have another wedding gig before or after ours?
Why You Want to Know: If they don’t have anything after, ask what the overtime fees are if the party is still cranking past the end of the time on your contract. And if they have one before, ask what will happen if the other event runs over.
16. What’s your sick-day policy?
Why You Want to Know: If a key member of your music team comes down with the flu the morning of your wedding, they should have a reliable replacement (and have you meet him or her too).
17. Do you have liability insurance?
Why You Want to Know: You need to be sure you, your venue and guests are protected in case of an accident. A true pro will offer to show you their certificate.
18. What’s your backup plan if there’s an equipment malfunction?
Why You Want to Know: Most DJs and bands will prepare for an unexpected event—for instance, an amp that blows out. But it’s best to double-check they have a backup plan. If the plan B equipment isn’t in the band’s van or DJ’s car, you’ll have a lot of silence at your wedding—and it won’t be golden.
19. What’s your cancellation policy?
Why You Want to Know: If you change your date or change your mind on your music (it happens), what are the repercussions?
20. How do you motivate a shy crowd to dance?
Why You Want to Know: Some DJs will teach the latest dance or verbally encourage guests to step onto the dance floor, while others will just select songs that will naturally get people moving. Choose someone who uses a technique that you like (for instance, if you want minimal conversation from a DJ or band, one who uses the mic to amp up the energy isn’t going to be a good fit).