“Should we choose the playlist for our wedding band/DJ?” is a question I am asked a lot. It’s a tricky one because it’s your wedding day and of course you want everything to be perfect. There’s always that worry of wanting to be in control of every single detail, especially when couples are really into their music.
Why Your Act Should Choose the Playlist
However, I tend to advise couples that, although it seems like a good idea at the time, it is best to leave the song choice and design of the wedding band or DJ’s playlist to the experts. I myself (with a ‘slight’ tendency to feel I have to please everyone!) used to let clients take free reign of the playlist, but sadly it rarely worked as well as if a band puts something together themselves. There are a few reasons for this…
Your Act Will Know What Works
Don’t forget that your band/DJ is experienced and talented at what they do, and part of their talent is their ability to judge what songs will work well. Even just this one small statement has a lot of factors involved.
For example, there are plenty of songs that a DJ could play that just wouldn’t work with a live band. Tunes that would be ‘dance floor fillers’ when a DJ plays them, but ‘dance floor killers’ when a band plays them! Certain songs may really suit your singer’s voice (or not!).
Some songs work best at different points of the evening. Bear in mind that if you’ve booked an experienced act, their playlist is ‘tried and tested’ at hundreds of events, and they’ll know exactly what works and what doesn’t.
In order to keep a crowd up and dancing all night, the playlist needs to be constructed in a specific way. Any good, experienced band or DJ will know how to structure their set list so they can work your audience in the most dynamic way possible. This involves analysing tempos and song styles so the playlist can peak in the right places. Or, for a band, thinking about the key of the songs so they can segway them together (similarly, a DJ would need to analyse tempos so he can mix between one song and another).
Certain songs are natural ‘openers’ (i.e. for the start of a set) or ‘closers’ (a big high impact finish), and other songs are classic ‘winners’. It’s all a bit scientific and there’s a lot to think about!
With live bands, and to some extent DJs, keep in mind that they will rehearse and gig their usual set list every week. Most professional bands spend months rehearsing a playlist, and then years performing it. If you’re booking a busy, popular band, their set list will undoubtedly flow together.
We always make an effort to either segway each song (go from one to the other without stopping, like a DJ would), or start the next song as soon as the other finishes, so you don’t have any ‘awkward’ silences between songs. However, if the band has a playlist that you have specified, it’s never going to be as flowing and smooth as the songs the band play week in, week out. Of course, a good band will always make an effort to perform this as well as they can, but what I’m trying to advise is how to get the best performance from them.
Having Some Input into Song Choices
I understand you may still want some kind of input with regards to the songs played at your wedding. The last thing you want is a band to start playing your most hated song and ruin your evening! Or a DJ who plays something awful and clears the dance floor. My advice is…
Check Their Playlist
Ask your band for their standard playlist and then a list of their entire repertoire. I would definitely not recommend putting together your own list from the repertoire, but what would work better is to look through and pick out any songs in their playlist that you absolutely hate, or anything from the rest of the repertoire that you love. Then, chat with the band representative and see how they’d feel about replacing them. Bear in mind that there are some songs which would need a lot of thought to replace, so involve your act in the discussion too. For example, if you want to change the opening number, you’ll want to work alongside the band to decide on an opener that you’re happy with and the band feel will have just as much impact.
Suggest a Theme
You could always give your band/DJ an idea of theme. For example, perhaps you’d like your DJ to start off with music from the 50s and 60s, and then play mostly 70s with a little bit of modern music at the end. A suggestion like this is not too restrictive, and means your DJ or band can still ‘work their magic’ to ensure everything is well constructed.
The most important factor to think about is that, whether you hire a band or dj, they will want to do the best job possible. Remember that they are the experts and you are paying them for their expertise. If you let them perform in the way they know works well, or compromise with one of my tips above, you can guarantee your wedding reception will go swimmingly and you have a full dance floor all evening.
Guest post by Sera Golding of MIB Music
Wedding Band and Dancing: Brian Robinson Photography
DJ: Tom Leishman of Picture My Love