Choosing the right music for your reception
By Kai Ma
July 16, 2011
As much as personalization is encouraged for weddings these days, music is one area where you have to think more about what your guests want, rather than what you want. Examples: Are you a heavy metal fan? Well, unless all your guests are into hardcore extended guitar solos, the Metallica playlist isnt going to work. Are you into jazz? Consider that bebop isnt the easiest music to dance to.
Dont fret. You can still personalize the soundtrack of your receptionand you definitely should. If using a DJ, provide a list of your favorite songs and bands. If using a live band, ask them to play covers. If there is a genre or time period that speaks to your relationship, include it. Just be open-minded about what the crowd will want to hear and dance to.
Surely, your DJ or live band will be familiar with what wedding guests want to hear. But simply hiring these professionals isnt enough. Research and in-depth interviews are imperative. The music will set the tone for the reception. Your DJ must own the collection that suits your taste. A live band must 1) be talented and 2) perform the types of songs and genres youve requested. Choose the right music, and the party may go on all night. Choose music thats slightly off kilter, and your guests may be dashing to the doors long before you cut the cake.
Begin your planning by answering these questions. By figuring out exactly what youre looking for, your search will feel more manageable.
- Whats your music budget? Knowing exactly how much you can spend will quickly eliminate the providers that cost too much.
- Do you want a DJ or a live band? For some couples, a live band provides a touch of class that a DJ simply cannot match. Others find DJs much more comforting and safe because they know what each song will sound like.
- What sort of music do you prefer? If you want a certain genre, such as pop, classic rock, 80s, country or hip-hop to dominate, look for someone who is experienced in that genre. Again, a provider with an extensive playlist of several genres is recommended if you want to inspire most of your guests to dance.
- How much control do you want to have? Some providers will supply a complete playlist, and give you the option to strike out songs. If having control of the playlist is important to you, stress this during the interview.
- How much interaction do you expect between the DJ/band and the guests? Some providers love to take requests from guests. Others wont consider it.
After youve narrowed the field to a few top contestants, its time for even more questions. This time, youll be doing the asking. Do your homework and compile a list of inquiries. The questions below are key.
- How much influence can I have over your music selections? Can I see and approve the playlist?
- Do you bring your own sound system to the venue, or do I need to provide that? Can we test the speakers and audio in the space before the reception? (Sometimes, the reception space you choose handles the speakers and audio. If that is the case, ask the venue staff for a test run.) Even the perfect set will bomb if the audio is not clear.
- Can you provide a list of references?
- How many weddings have you been hired for?
- Could you provide an example of a successful set to play at a wedding? Why did you choose these songs? How did the guests react?
- Do you only provide the music, or do you also work as an emcee? Are you a talkative emcee that speaks between songs and encourages guests to dance? Or do you only speak to the guests periodically?
- Do you have a playlist sample (from the DJ) or a recording/video (from the band) that I can take home?
Last important tip
You may feel compelled to make your own playlist and blast it from iPod speakers. Please dont. Music is much too important to skimp on. You may be a music aficionado; you may be a musician yourself. But wedding professionals provide much more than just songs. They are in charge of a complicated process based on expertise. They may provide a sound system that ensures each song is heard throughout the reception space. They may emcee in a way that defines and enlivens the event. Even in this digital-obsessed era, its vital to have a human beingand not your iPoddictate what your guests will groove to.