1. The Vibe You Want to Create
Music has the power to control what the overall experience of your wedding and reception will be like, and it’s important you have a good idea of what you’re looking for before you select your entertainment for your wedding. Whether you want a dance party that goes till last call or a chill mellow acoustic vibe, be sure to communicate that to your DJ before the wedding.
2. A List of Must-Plays
It’s typical to have a list of must-play songs, such as for first dance or parent-child dances, but you can also create a list of other must-play songs that have meaning for you and your partner, or you and your friends or family. Discuss with your DJ before hand and let them know that these songs are important to you.
3. A List of NO-Plays
Equally, there will likely be songs that you absolutely do not want played at your wedding. Common ones include “Blurred Lines” and anything by R. Kelly (go watch “Surviving R. Kelly”). Your no-play list is up to you, but be sure to communicate it to your DJ well in advance.
4. How You Want to Be Announced
It’s common for your DJ to be the one to announce you and your partner as you enter your wedding reception, and it’s important that you communicate how you want to be announced ahead of time. Whether that be “Mrs. and Mrs.,” “newlyweds,” or “partners in crime,” this will set the tone for how your friends and family refer to you and your new spouse going forward. Make sure it’s what you want.
Additionally, consider if there is a song you want to play while you’re being announced. We’ve heard horror stories of DJs playing “When a Man Loves a Woman” as two brides enter the reception. Discussing your preferences ahead of time ensures you won’t end up in this situation.
5. Gender Dynamics
Gender dynamics play a big role in music. We see it all the time. In the 2000s, it was typical for “Single Ladies” to play and all the single women would be called out to the dance floor. Another common one is for DJs to do some sort of call and response, where the men are asked to sing one part and the women another. When gender becomes a requirement for participating in your wedding reception, you run the risk of alienating some of your guests. Remember, your guests are not required to disclose their gender identity to you, so this is something to avoid even if you don’t think it applies to any of your guests. Be clear with your DJ ahead of time that you don’t want to rely on these traditional gender dynamics.
6. Music “Games” and Whether They Are Right for Your Wedding
Another common activity is to play music “games” at your wedding. For example, your DJ may ask all married couples to come onto the dance floor, and slowly, they say that only keep dancing if you’ve been married for one year, five years, 10 years, and so on. This type of music “game” can be fun, and can celebrate your friends or family members who have been married for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years, but it can also alienate some of your guests. It forces your single friends or friends who are in relationships but are not married to sit out and miss the fun. Generally, if there is an activity that excludes any of your guests, you may want to rethink including it in your wedding day. This particular “game” is one we played at our wedding, and while it allowed our photographer to capture some of my favorite photos ever of my parents dancing, it did leave a number of guests out of the fun.
Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, accessibility, equality, and design into the Catalyst brand. When she’s not traveling the country working to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place, she’s writing on her couch and snuggled up with her husband and SUPER lazy cats.
Photo by Tiffany Josephs Photography