Elissa from Green Line Talent knows wedding music and she's here to share her insights on minimizing stress and drama of your music repertoire.
After helping over 100 couples curate the music for their weddings, I've just about seen it all, including elaborate choreographed Disney princess dance medleys, uncles doing the worm, belly dancers, a Mariah Carey ceremony processional, and even a Backstreet Boys karaoke battle. I've worked with couples who've kept things easy-going and simple, achieved elegant and traditional decadence, or have had full-blown raging parties and everything in between. No matter the overall goal for your wedding, here's a little wisdom I've extracted from being a part of these very special events:
Create a tight itinerary
It may seem a bit over the top to plan every moment of your wedding down to the minute, but trust us, you do not want to have to make 10,000 executive decisions while you're trying to enjoy your party and have fun with your guests. This is particularly important if you are also working with a band, or planning a wedding at a private estate that doesn't already have a tried-and-true suggested schedule. By giving your DJ a precise agenda for toasts, announcements, and other cues, he or she will be the timekeeper, so you can sit back and relax (or dance)!
Not sure how to begin creating your timeline? Typically the best place to start is by asking your caterer for a suggested schedule that fits into their meal service, and from there, your DJ will be happy to tweak it to help create a nice flow.
Plan, but don't over-plan
One of the best things about having a DJ is that he/she can read the crowd and mix in and out of songs in a way that keeps guests on their toes, and maximizes the energy level of your reception. It's a great idea to create a list of Must Play and Do Not Play songs, as well as a list of the key songs for various formalities, while still leavings some wiggle room for the DJ to take requests, and mix in some songs that they predict will keep the crowd happy. Having a 100-song, color-coded schedule of which songs to play may seem like a good idea in theory, but it may limit the DJ's ability to do what he or she does best. A good DJ will spend some time with you upfront to get to know your vision and taste, so when it comes to filling in the blanks for your dance party music, he/she will be able to intelligently select songs that both represent your style, and also keep guests happy.
Be honest about who you are
A wedding is often just as much for your family and guests as it is for you and your betrothed, but just because there are certain expectations of how you should go about planning your big day, doesn't mean you can't tweak the rules a bit to represent your own personal style throughout the event. Don't be afraid to tell your DJ if a certain formality makes you feel awkward, or if you really can't stand the idea of having to be lifted up in a chair, or whatever it may be. Chances are, there are little tricks to help make these moments more comfortable, whether you want to invite guests to join you midway through your parent dance, or just skip your grand introduction altogether. (Hey, some people love the limelight more than others!) At the end of the day, there are no laws when it comes to planning your wedding, so you may as well make it your own.
Throw a bone to grandma and grandpa
I have definitely worked with clients who want to keep their wedding reception edgy and catered toward a young crowd, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. That said, I've found that there are some tricks to curating a modern dance party that doesn't totally alienate all of the elder guests. Whether you just want to select a few oldies that you may actually like (c'mon, everyone has at least one Beatles or Motown song they can stand, right?!), or even just toss in a nice modern slow song here and there, you'd be surprised that a sprinkling of this type of music goes a long way when breaking the ice for your older guests. There is also a lot of great '80s and modern pop (MJ, Prince, Amy Winehouse, T-Swift?) that bridges the generational gap quite seamlessly. I find that once the aunts and uncles get their blood flowing on the dance floor, they are more inclined to keep on moving, even if you start to mix in the modern hits. And if you really need to hear Azealia Banks at your wedding, then you may just want to place that song at the end of the night after Granny has headed off to count sheep.
Consider the lighting
There's nothing like a bright overhead fluorescent light to make people scatter to the sides of the dance floor like they are at a sixth grade sock hop. If your venue can't do much to dim the house lights once dancing kicks off, ask your DJ if they can provide uplights or some other type of lighting that might add ambiance.
Envision the end of your party
Whether you want a giant mosh pit, an anthemic sing-along, or a romantic slow dance, your DJ can help orchestrate a plan to ensure you close out your evening on a high note. It's never a bad idea to select a certain song as a closer, particularly if it's a special nostalgic favorite between you and your friends, or your personal memory between you and your fiance. Also, keep in mind the timing of any special announcements or closing events at the end of the evening. For example, it might be a good idea to play the last song five minutes early, before announcing the departure of the last shuttle bus, or last call at the bar, just so everyone has the chance to partake in your special moment!
Sit down and have a drink!
Every couple deserves to at least have a bite of the food they so painstakingly selected, or a sip of the champagne that their guests are guzzling down, I mean, toasting to their eternal love with. Take a break, have a dance, get some fresh air, and let your vendors do their job. It's your party, and we promise no one will be mad if you take a moment to enjoy it.