Although your DJ or band is responsible for entertaining your guests, there are some things that brides and grooms can also do to ensure that the soundtrack for their big day hits all the right notes. Here, wedding pros share the most easily avoidable wedding music blunders.
1. Not Playing Songs Your Guests Want to Hear
While your wedding should absolutely reflect your musical tastes, part of being a gracious host entails catering to the crowd for at least a portion of the evening. After all, “A little swing music, some early rock ‘n’ roll hits or even some classic rock can often bring out folks that wouldn’t have otherwise put on their boogie shoes. Once the night wears on, and it’s just the die-hard party animals, you can turn on whatever you want and jam out,” says Nate Bellon from the band Josh and the Empty Pockets.
How are you supposed to know which hits will inspire everyone to leap out of their seats? Ask and you shall receive: “My wedding website included a section to capture song ideas. Guests completed the following sentence: You’ll find me on the dance floor when they play ______,” says Kristen Ley Green from Something New For I Do. The list then got sent to her so that she could share it with her DJ. Or you could include a prompt on the RSVP insert that guests can mail back to you, instead. Check out songs that’ll get everyone dancing ►
2. Abruptly Switching From One Genre to the Next
Imagine this: You’re enjoying a sweet slow dance when the MC brings it to a screeching halt: “Who’s ready to party?!” Suddenly, you and your fiancé find yourselves in the middle of a salsa fest with no warning. “Guests will literally ‘get into the groove’ of a song and want to continue with that feeling for the next few tunes. Make sure your music flows!” says Anastasia Stevenson from How to DIY Wedding. A bassy hip-hop song shouldn’t lead to an acoustic love song from the ’70s straight to the Macarena.
“Find out if the DJ you’re considering will know how to read a crowd. If they switch abruptly from one genre to the next, it could just kill the overall vibe,” says Michelle Girard from Michelle Girard Photography. In addition to reading reviews and getting recommendations from friends and other trusted vendors, ask to hear examples of their transitions.
3. Sticking to Just One Genre
It’s crucial to take all guests into consideration when selecting the music, especially if you have a diverse demographic audience. “When you appeal to just one subset — e.g. alternative rock or country — you will miss the mark,” says Greg Jenkins from Bravo Productions. Andrea Freeman from Andrea Freeman Events tells us that when couples play one type of music all night long, “Eventually their entertainment slips into the background and people are just hanging out.” Talk to your band or DJ about the breakdown of your crowd so they can suggest cross-generational hits to keep things lively for everyone.
Also, once the dance floor has opened up for the evening, keep the energy up with a majority of up-tempo songs. “You can get away with a few more mid-tempo tunes interspersed throughout, but nothing sucks the energy off a dance floor like too many slow songs,” Bellon says.
4. Not Including “Play” and “Do Not Play” Lists
Jot down music requests together with your partner — include songs that have special meaning in your relationship and to your families, as well as those you would prefer to skip. “I’ve seen some newlyweds get so overwhelmed with the planning process that this task never gets done. However, these tend to be the same couples who get upset when the music they wanted to hear isn’t being played,” Freeman says. Jazz, R&B, and pop can mean different things to different people, so it’s critical to sit down with your band leader or DJ and review all of this info.
“Sometimes couples will say things like ‘Play something I can dance to’ or ‘I like stuff that sounds like hip-hop but not really.’ These requests are way too generic,” says Marshall Weinstein, aka DJ Martial, the CEO and founder of SET Artist Management. Identify specific genres and bands, and your DJ will put together an arsenal of great songs that you’ll love. Plus, the DNP (do not play) list comes in handy when “The couple’s cute little cousin requests Lady Gaga or the drunk couple from work asks for another Barry Manilow song. If these artists are on the list, the performers know not to play their songs and can suggest something else, instead,” says Mark Weiser from Shake Rattle & Roll Pianos.
5. Choosing Songs With Awkward or Inappropriate Lyrics
Avoid music with cringe-worthy lyrics, especially when it comes to your special dances. “The biggest blunder is playing songs that aren’t particularly romantic just because they’re popular for the moment,” says Dorian Smith-Garcia, the founder and editor-in-chief of The Anti-Bridezilla. She cites Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” as an example (“We’re looking for something dumb to do, I think I want to marry you”). “Always a Woman” by Billy Joel is another repeat offender (“She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes, she can ruin your faith with her casual lies”). “If we had a nickel for every time a couple requested it but never listened to the opening lines, we’d be rich,” Weiser says. See some of the worst song requests, here ►
Then, there was the bride and groom who wanted “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot for their first dance! It’s respectful to keep the music in good taste, as you may have a lot of guests from the older generation or children, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to play certain types of songs. “Most weddings are a family event, but I’d had couples play rough music that is very derogatory and drops the F-bomb. That might be what they listen to on a regular basis, but it shouldn’t be something they add to their wedding playlist,” says Courtney Lutkus from Simply Radiant Events.
6. The Music Is Too Loud
Ideally you want to send guests home with favors and fond memories, not a pounding migraine! Keep the sound level reasonable since not everyone will be able to appreciate a dance club atmosphere. “Ask your DJ or band leader to avoid making it too loud to the point in which guests can’t converse throughout the reception. Also, be conscious of where they place the speakers so that you don’t upset any guests that are too close for comfort,” says Aviva Samuels from Kiss the Planner.
Research the sound ordinance laws in the town you’re getting married in, and ask your venue if they have any noise level restrictions to avoid having your party shut down.