Wedding Music Selection
By DJ Cam Reeve
Music has the power to set the tone and help create lasting memories on your wedding day. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of hundreds of weddings over the years. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my tips for making a list that is centered around you as a couple but one that also creates an inviting atmosphere for your guests.
First, think about the mood. Different music can evoke different emotions and create distinct moods. Consider what kind of mood you want to set for each part of your wedding, such as the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and dinner. In the past, I’ve had brides choose guitar covers for the ceremony, classical music for the cocktail hour, and both top 40 and motown toe-tappers for dinner. To finish things off, a dance floor set with top 40 and trending TikTok tracks mixed in with 80’s and the couple’s “must-play” songs.
As you are considering the mood, think about how much you want to cater to your guests vs telling your unique story with your musical style. You can choose music that reflects your taste in music as a couple while thinking about the guests attending your event.
I always ask couples what artist or playlist they personally have on repeat. If they don’t have an answer, that's okay! However, when they do, this can help give us a good base for starting. I once asked a couple this and the groom shared that if he could just have Post Malone at his wedding he would. The bride spoke up, saying that she would put Taylor Swift on repeat at the wedding if she could. Both were surprised by my answer - why not incorporate them both a little more during cocktail hour and dinner, then play a few bangers on the dance floor? One of the ways you can get away with this is by having your emcee share a little background about why guests will hear Taylor Swift and Post Malone throughout the night. Then, when it’s time for dancing, you have the DJ/Emcee share that “Mr. and Mrs. Reeve have taken the time to hand select music they would like to dance to with you on their dance floor. We invite you to join us on the dance floor as we celebrate a fun night with Mr. and Mrs. Reeve.”
Take advantage of your DJ’s experience. Ask them questions and listen to their advice. Don’t take it as gospel, but let them help guide you through the process of selecting music.
One thing I would consider when selecting your music are the ears of your more, shall we say, sensitive guests. While your personal style and taste are important, it's also important to consider the musical preferences of your guests. If they are an important part of your dance floor and are sensitive to explicit music, choose a mix of music that appeals to a wide range of ages and tastes to ensure that everyone has a great time.
Many couples consider building a “Do Not Play List.” While this could feel important, make sure you consider the effects it could have on your guests. What if they go up to the DJ and the DJ says “The bride and groom have given me a list to stick to.” We’ve all had that moment where we went up to the DJ and they said it’s not gonna happen - think about how it made you feel.
I have always laughed when I see something like the chicken dance on the DO NOT PLAY list. If you’re scared that the DJ is going to play that song, then you have seen too many bad DJ’s. As for myself, I stay away from similar songs unless they are requested. You can absolutely put songs that you don’t want played (like the “corny” stuff) on your list - looking at you, chicken dance. But recognize that songs like YMCA, Uptown Funk, Pepas, Single Ladies, and All of the Lights are songs that are requested at nearly every event, and people sometimes expect to hear them. At the end of the day, all I’m trying to say is that the DO NOT PLAY list is important but don’t pigeon hole your DJ into a corner; that is, unless you have 40-60 tracks in your ideas list for a 1 hour set.
Personally, what I love as a DJ is when couples have a music vision for their dance floor. I love getting a list of artists, songs, and genres that speak to a couple. The funnest weddings I’ve been a part of are the ones where the couples created themes around themselves and the friends that will be attending their wedding. To this day, my favorite wedding I’ve been a part of was an afterparty that was 2 hours long with a Music set that was only 2010’s House Music.