At our wedding, I wanted country and my groom wanted Mexican rap. Obviously, we had to make some compromises as neither are big crowd-pleasers. As a wedding DJ myself, I work with many brides who want me to quickly throw out their labor-of-love offbeat playlists when they see their dance floor is empty or their guests are leaving early.
But if you're not about to force tofu on your Texas relatives, and you're not insisting that no one drinks because you don't drink, consider the same line of thinking when it comes to your wedding music. Decide now what things are going to be about you on the big day (dress? vows?) and what is going to be about your guests (food? music?).
There are plenty of places in your wedding music line-up to express your personal style without scaring off your guests:
- Ceremony prelude music (what the DJ plays before the ceremony as guests are being seated)
- Your big entrance song — anything goes
- The last dance — fast or slow, it'll get the guests out of their seats
- Dinner and the cocktail hour are great opportunities for offbeat, non-danceable stuff
- Ask your DJ to use indie tunes for the slow dances
- Lots of indie bands remake popular tunes — ask your DJ for the Afghan Wigs version of “Creep” instead of the original by TLC.
- Lots of songs have dance remix versions… or ask your DJ if s/he can custom remix three or four of your fave jams especially for the occasion
- When I give context for an offbeat song guests are a lot more motivated to dance to it… ask your DJ to explain the cute story behind the Bikini Kill song before hitting “play.”
- Research popular wedding tunes and make a list of the songs you can't stand: “Brick House,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Shout,” “Gangnam Style,” “Cha Cha Slide,” “YMCA.” Pass the list along to your DJ so s/he can include “everybody favorites” at the reception, minus the ones that'll have you hurling.
- If the bride and groom are not dancing, the guests will dance a lot less
- Consider having a no-dance reception — your non-offensive indie jams can be played at a lower volume while you serve rockin' coffee or wine with some romantic lighting and an after-dinner lounge set up
I've seen a lot of discussion about avoiding cheesy DJs and not wanting to give up control of the reception to a DJ. (Sometimes I feel like wedding DJs are wedding community pariahs — I don't have cheesy cooties, I swear!) I was a bride too — I get it. I had to “give up control” of my reception, which was even harder as a fellow wedding DJ.
Having said that, remember one thing. Cheesy DJs persist because, for the most part, wedding guests eat up the cheese. I'm a Seattle-native with a nose ring and feminist tattoos who has had green, blue, and pink hair and been a strict vegetarian for 20 years — I do have some offbeat street cred. Yet I still lead line dancing lessons during weddings I DJ because I keep hearing how much fun they are.
Just keep an open mind. If you take the time and effort to plan properly, you can both entertain your guests and enjoy yourself.