Disc Jockeys: How to Select Music for Your Wedding

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Contributed by Pat Bruno, A Music Plus

Music Preferences are so personal that one shouldn't attempt to determine "good" or "bad" music. The best DJs educate their clients about music and only play the music that they ask to hear. They can then supplement those choices with selections that compliment their event.

Live bands are generally limited to the songs they carry in their repertoire. With DJs the choices are much more varied.
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Many clients aren't sure what should be played at their event, and with that, here are some things to consider.

What do you want the music at your event to do? Is the purpose of the music to provide a format for dancing, to provide ambiance, to set a mood or enhance the moment? Determining what you want the music to do will help you decide what should be played.

How important is it to you that your guests dance? This is a huge issue at wedding receptions. We sometimes get clients whose primary concern in selecting music is to demonstrate to their friends and families how eclectic or eccentric their music tastes have become. While we will certainly help them accomplish that goal, we try to warn them not to be shocked if most of their guests don't recognize the music and, therefore, choose not to dance. Most people tend to dance when they feel comfortable, and that usually requires recognizing the music.

How much music should you choose, and how much should you let the DJ choose? Again, this is up to you, but here's an analogy. You've asked the chef to prepare a wonderful meal for everyone. You've told him/her what you like. Now, do you stand over his/her shoulder and direct the preparation of the food? What spices to use, what temperature to cook the food at, which pots and pans to use, what order to prepare the food in, etc.? Providing music for dancing is similar. The DJ should know what you like and dislike and try to play music accordingly. But micro-managing the DJ at your event tends to take away much of your enjoyment of the party and makes a long night for everybody.

Do you have to hear the same old songs that you hear at most weddings? Of course not! This is your day and you should have total control of the music played. On the other hand, songs that fall under the category of popular music are called "popular" for a reason. Songs like YMCA, Love Shack, the Electric Slide, for instance...these are songs that make some people cringe, while others flock to the dance floor. You need to decide what matters most. If hearing a particular song or artist will irk you at your event, tell your DJ in advance. If you'll be too busy visiting with guests to notice or care, and the song has your guests dancing end enjoying themselves, then you might be best served to not worry about it.

Should you allow the DJ to take guests requests? A DJ cannot possibly know you and your guests as well as you do. Sometimes guests come up with some good and fun ideas for music selections. A good DJ will always use discretion, anyway, so you shouldn't have to worry about the DJ playing inappropriate songs. Unless you are concerned about the music your guests might request, or you want the DJ to play from your list only, it is generally okay to let guests make requests.

Some style choices for choosing music at your event:

* Do nothing, allowing the DJ to choose all the music. This is fine if you have seen the DJ before and know you will like their selections, or if you do not have the time to choose music. Good DJs can quickly determine the kind of music that you and your guests will enjoy. Additionally, they will bring a wide variety of all styles of popular music so that they can adjust to your preferences and those of your guests accordingly.

* Choose a few songs and/or artists you most enjoy. This is what most people tend to do. This gives your DJ a clear indication of some of the music that is important to you, while allowing them to take guest requests and play songs that they know from experience will please your guests.

* Choose several songs and artists and identify a list of "Do Not Play" songs and/or artists, as well as possibly forbidding the playing of guest requests. If you have the time and inclination, this option gives you more control of the music played at your event. While more time consuming on your end, it can help you feel that you have more say in what is or is not played.

* Provide a list of music choices for the DJ, requiring that only songs on that list be played unless you specify otherwise at the event. This option ensures that you will not hear a song at your event that you have not approved, but is somewhat restrictive and eliminates guest choices as an option for the DJ.

* Create the list of music you want played, in order, and require the DJ stick to it. While it can be done, it is not recommended. Making such a list requires a great deal of time and effort on your part. Additionally, it cannot account for or allow flexibility for what may be happening at your event at any given time.

Another consideration is that the more time and effort you put into creating lists and planning music, the more concerned you may be about those lists during your event. At weddings in particular, some couples have lamented that they were too worried about whether or not their efforts were being followed rather than enjoying the moment with their family and friends.

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