Whenever you leave a wedding reception as a guest, how your night ends usually has to do with how much fun you had or didn't have on the dance floor. Let's face it - music is a big deal when it comes to wedding receptions, and a DJ or band can make or break the whole thing.
I've been to a LOT of weddings in my day, and I've been lucky enough when it comes to good music at the receptions, which is a really big deal for me. Dancing is huge, and if there's a good DJ, my friends and I won't leave the dance floor for most of the night.
But then there are those weddings with the crappy DJs or the awkward bands who no one knows how to dance to, and those are the worst. No one wants to dance, but no one wants to look rude and leave early either.
Or how about the DJs who play a ton of slow songs all night that leaves out all the single guests? Double awkward.
So when it comes to your own wedding and music at your reception, it's super important to remember what it's like to be a guest at a wedding and what kind of experiences you had. Sure you might be feeling all romantic as a newlywed at your own wedding, but no one wants to dance to slow songs all night.
Here are a few things you need to remember when setting up your music list with your DJ/band:
1) There are undoubtedly going to be older people at your wedding, so don't start the night out with Notorious B.I.G. or Britney Spears. The grandparents and aunts and uncles are going to want to get their boogey on too, not sit in their chairs all night and watch the younger guests take over the dance floor. Remember to include music that they'll enjoy, like hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s (and who doesn't like 80s music anyway?). Maybe play lots of older hits for the first couple of hours before integrating newer music, that way the older guests get their dancing in and can call it a night early if they need to.
2) Again, there are going to be single people at your wedding and you don't want to leave them out by playing too many slow songs. I've been there and it's so uncomfortable. Keep the slow stuff to a minimum and stop them altogether early into the dancing part of your reception. People want to party, not re-live prom night.
3) If you're considering a live band for your wedding, make sure they're not pigeon-holed in one genre of music. If you get a country band, for example, you're automatically excluding a section of your guests who don't like country, and they'll be sitting down at their tables until the band's finished and the DJ takes over. Try to pick a band that can cover lots of genres of music and bands from all across the generations to keep everyone happy. Bands are tricky so you've got to screen a lot for a good one or risk throwing away your entire reception.
4) Your older guests, parents, aunts and uncles included, aren't going to like the same music you and your younger friends do, so maybe start playing the latest hits later on in the night when everyone else has had their fun. Bust out the Kanye and Jay Z once the parents have called it a night and the younger guests are still givin' er, then keep the newer hits going until last call.
What I plan for my wedding should take care of all of these problems. I plan on cutting off the slow songs after half an hour, then having a chronological dance part of my reception, starting with hits from the 50/60s, then moving into the 70s and 80s and finishing the night with the best music from the 90s until 2014.
To me this is a pretty fool-proof plan; everyone gets to hear something they like, the older guests get their dancing in early and can leave if they get too tired, while the younger guests get to finish off the party with their newer music and shut down the reception.
And while you, the bride or groom, might already be passed out in a hotel room with your clothes still on by midnight, at least you can sleep in peace of mind that your guests had a really, really good time at your reception that they'll remember for years to come.
And don't forget to play the Eurythmics. Everyone loves Annie Lennox.
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