Should We Select Every Song for the Entire Night?

For the most part, our couples are flexible about their dance music request lists, because they know their guests may or may not share their musical tastes, and they want their guests to have a great time. But each couple wants to personalize its request list to some degree. Otherwise, every wedding would be just like every other wedding. Here are some request list guidelines.

Your guests won’t be dancing all night. A typical wedding reception includes about 2 and a half hours of cocktail and dinner music. You’ll also need to count about 15 minutes for your First Dance, wedding party dance, bride-father and groom-mother dances. Subtract them from your total time, and you typically have about 3 hours of dance music, give or take a half hour.
60 minutes equals 14 to 18 songs. So if you pick 50 dance songs in advance, and you want every one of them played, there’s no room for requests by your guests. If they don’t like the music you chose for them, no one will dance, and your party will die. Leave room for requests.
Try to avoid choosing very long songs. “American Pie” is great to listen to. So is “Sweet Home Chicago” or “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” But at 8 minutes or longer, they gobble up a lot of dance time; and if no one dances to them, they can drain the energy out of a party pretty fast.
Decide how many slow songs you want. If you’re going to have a lot of couples at your reception, it’s a good idea to include about a half dozen romantic slow songs. On the other hand, if your crowd is mostly singles, you may wish to skip slow dances altogether.
Here’s how most couples pick their music. They start out by choosing every song they’ve ever liked. And not surprisingly, some couples end up with 200 songs. That’s fine if your reception runs through Tuesday. Otherwise, you should go back through your list and trim it to the best 40 or 50 songs.  
Concert music is not dance music. You may love the song stylings of Jason Mraz, or Jack Johnson, or John Mayer. But let’s be honest — no one dances to that kind of music, unless you’re hosting your reception at Starbucks. Choose dance songs with a beat.
Unfamiliar music empties the dance floor. Your wedding reception is not a time to expose your guests to a lot of music they’ve never heard before. It’s fine for a dance that’s special to you; and we can find the right placement for a small handful of unfamiliar songs without disrupting the flow of the party; but your reception shouldn’t turn into a private concert for the two of you, at the expense of all of your guests.  
We can help you with your song selection. We have access to a program called DJ Intelligence. Hundreds of DJs host their song lists on DJ Intelligence software, and clients use that software to submit their request lists. Then, DJ Intelligence compiles those hundreds of thousands of requests into a list of the 200 most popular songs on the dance floor TODAY. We’ll have that list with us at your party; so we’ll never be stumped for a great song to fill the dance floor. 

Many of our couples simply tell us, “Use your best judgment, and take lots of requests.” Couples who aren’t attached to a lot of songs prefer to trust the DJ to read the room and choose music that draws people to the dance floor. We’re fine with that, too.

Remember, your wedding reception is just a party you’re throwing for your friends. The most successful receptions are those that let the dancers dictate the pace. Follow that formula, and you’ll send your guests home with great memories of the party YOU threw.

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2016 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company. 

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