Selecting the Music for your Wedding (Part 2 - Dancing and Do-Not-Play Lists)

by Bethany McDonald


Now comes the fun part. Picking the music for the dancing portion of the evening is just a matter of choosing songs that will get people on the floor. We like to use songs that the majority of your guests are familiar with; songs that everyone will enjoy whether they are dancing or not. The format that we have found that works best is to transition your music throughout the years, with your oldest music early and your more recent hits later in the night. We have noticed over time that your younger guests are much more apt to dance to older music than your older guests are to dance to newer music.

A good way to start is with older classics like "Twist and Shout" or "Brown Eyed Girl". Or if your family is into beach or shag music, a few of these can be played early in the night. We usually play 5-10 upbeat, fast songs, and then give everyone a quick break with a slow song. It's always good to play a slow song or two every 20-30 minutes. You don't want to waste good dance songs when everyone is too tired to take advantage. It also gives some of your non-dancers a chance to participate, while your partners refill their glasses and catch their breath. Slow songs also give us a chance to change up the genre from oldies to motown, or disco, or 80's. If you have any "singalong" songs (e.g. "Don't Stop Believing" or "Sweet Caroline"), directly after a slow song is a great placement.

As the night progresses, so does the music, and we generally transition to newer hip hop and pop/top 40. We are always sure to have clean radio edits of the newer hits. Be sure to check that your DJ supplies this. A lot of "clean" edits are often suggestive in nature, so the end of the night is a great time as most of your older guests have filtered out.


Some couples choose to allow requests, while others have operated with a closed playlist. It's important to have a DJ who understands the parameters of your music selection and wedding theme. We can still take requests from your guests, while picking and choosing the songs that will be successful on the dance floor. Some couples also allow their guests to request music ahead of time by inserting a card into the invitation for the guests to fill out, saying things like "I promise to dance if you play..." and compiling a list for the reception.


Your Do-Not-Play list is as integral to the night as your must-play list. It's very important for your DJ to get a feel for what songs will clear the dance floor or irritate the Bride and Groom. Always be sure to take into consideration that even though you may not like a particular song, it may be something a large amount of your guests would like to hear, and could help set the tone for a great party. We also make a point to play songs that our couples may not love when they are outside taking pictures or out of the room.


Novelty songs are a great example of songs that usually fall under the "Must-Play" or "Do-Not-Play" categories in almost all of our weddings. One alternative for these or others, is to make certain songs "request only" -- guaranteeing that the DJ will only play those songs if a number of your guests want to hear them. Examples of novelty songs are "Electric Slide", "Cupid Shuffle", "Cha Cha Slide", etc. Be sure to let your DJ know how you feel about this genre of music so you know what to expect throughout the night. But always keep in mind that while some novelty songs may seem cheesy and overplayed, they do tend to get a large number of people involved and on the dance floor.

Planning the music for your wedding can be much more fun than stressful, as long as you have the right guidelines and mindset to create the atmosphere you both are looking for with your event. Be sure to communicate all of your thoughts and ideas freely with your DJ, and don't be afraid to ask questions! It's your wedding and it should be about you, not the DJ. So use the opportunity you are given to make your wedding everything you want it to be!

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