Wedding Cocktail Hour And Dinner Music Set Playlist Tips From A Pro: Sound Advice From A Columbus Ohio Wedding DJ

I have DJ’d countless numbers of weddings and one recurring complement I constantly encounter is “Your music is perfect, you played such great music, did you come up with these songs?”  As a DJ, I cannot think of a higher complement. This begs the question, what do other wedding DJ’s play that I receive such wonderful complements???  Are they spinning mindless and boring tracks that zap energy from guests???

Frankly, my conviction is that a wedding DJ is to play from the moment the needle strikes the vinyl until the last guest exits the dance floor as crap music has no audience at a wedding reception. Given that music is subjective by nature, who is the judge and jury as to what constitutes “great music and why do so many share with me that I spin the best of the best when they seem to feel so many DJ’s don’t?  Below is a hint of my music recipe that will wow your wedding guests and have them all reciting what I hear all the time, “Your music was incredible!”

If your DJ is providing music for the cocktail and dinner hour portions of your reception, this is not the time to put the music playlist to bed by boring your guests, but rather, is the opportune time to wow them by building the energy in the room for what will become the ultimate celebration.  Think about your theme. You say you don’t have a theme?  Of course you do!  Your wedding is a celebration of love, relationships, friends, family traditions and the notion that love flows without end.  Your celebration should include all of what I just mentioned so here is your theme, now roll with it. Music should strike a chord and embrace your theme to include songs with lyrics about love and celebration (not to be confused by overplayed and worn out songs, but music with a good beat.  The majority of your music should be upbeat.  This is not to discredit slow songs as I love slow songs and they encourage guests to embrace as couples on the dance floor which ignites a packed dance floor for the upbeat music.  Following dinner, I usually strike the first match with a slow set to bring guests to the dance floor and build the energy from there.  I also intersperse slow songs if there is a need to bring the energy in the room down, if guests are getting tired and to appease older guests.  Slow songs should have a special meaning to you or your family or be familiar and nostalgic to the majority of your guests.  For cocktail and dinner hour sets, consider the following.

I, of course, plan very carefully with all of my wedding clients and will accommodate any genre of music they desire.  If you love Old Blue Eyes or any Rat Pack, jazz or dated music, be mindful that much of that music is slow ballads and although loving and meaningful, many of these artists also have terrific songs with identical lyrical ideas, but are more upbeat which are the ones you want played.  Some examples. Frank Sinatra: Musts include “Fly Me To The Moon” and “The Best Is Yet To Come” as opposed to “Embraceable You” or “I Only Have Eyes For You”.  If Dean Martin is your leading pitchman, consider “I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me” or “Just In Time” in lieu of “When You’re Smiling” or “You Belong To Me”.   Bottom line is to mix it up as Michael Buble has put his own spin on some of the classics that today’s generation love as much as grandparents.

Keep in mind, it is because of your guests you are celebrating and you need to cater to them as much as possible. Many of my clients have eclectic appetites in music which is great as it affords me the opportunity to play and listen to some music for which I may not be familiar and which adds an element of uniqueness to the celebration, all while addressing something special about the Bride and Groom.  I don’t believe, however, that a wedding reception is the environment to introduce all of one’s eclectic music preferences for which family and friends have not heard before. Wedding guests are the happiest when they are comfortable in the environment and music is a major factor in this.  When wedding guests make the claim that a reception was boring and uneventful, it is generally due to poor music choices and/or the order in which the music was played.  This said, give your DJ the freedom to play songs your guests know and love and feel free to provide your DJ with a prescribed list of songs that have a special meaning to you as a couple and to your friends and family members. Example, a Bride may indicate that her parents really love the Temptations and Tony Bennett while the Groom may state that his parents love to kick back to Ella Fitzgerald and The Beatles. The silver lining in this is that these artists may all be incorporated and everybody will be happy and timing is crucial in this endeavor.  Remember to keep your theme alive during cocktail hour and dinner.

Soulful hits to include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, “My Girl”, Signed Sealed Delivered” and “My Girl” are great tunes for dinner and cocktails as they happy, light and fun and although you can dance to them, they provide superb background music. Mixing in some newer stuff such as Colbie Callait, Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars and some solid picks from the Stones or Queen work well too.  I embrace the belief that if a song was great back in the day, it will probably be well received today as well as long as it isn’t cheesy or over played.  It’s important to remember that your guests probably don’t attend weddings very often so the music they experience will be fresh.

When it’s time to slip on the dancing shoes, lyrical content may fade and it will become more about the beat and these exemplify great dance songs.  To rev up the energy, make certain that the songs are upbeat and fun and that enough of your guests will be familiar with them to want to contribute to a packed dance floor.  This is not your green light to spotlight your techno, metal or underground preferences unless, of course, you want to invite your guests to the exit door and ultimately hear them complain about how bad your wedding was.  Trust in me that I have had some select couples over the years that were insistent that I play only the music they wanted to hear with the belief that their guests would enjoy it as well.  When they set their sights on the empty dance floor, they approached me asking, “what can you do to save our wedding?”  My reply, play what is tride and true to pack a dance floor by spinning the beats everyone loves and enjoys to include all of the classics and top 40 sets as well.   If a packed dance floor is your end game, play what you guests know and love and mix in a variety of genres and artists.