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How to Plan for the Best DJ at your Wedding

“Today’s post is authored by Jeff Murnan.  He is my husband and creator of jeffmurnan.com. Thanks Jeff for sharing how you prepared with the DJ to make our reception a hit!”

The music and entertainment at your wedding reception is crucial to ensure that the event goes off without a hitch and that the guests have an unforgettable time.

I have been to weddings where the DJ was terrible (imagine an advertisement coming on during the Father-Daughter dance or a 30-40 second delay between songs!).  I made it my personal mission to make sure our DJ did a great job for us.

The three components of a great reception are flow, song selection, and tone.

Flow: there are many ways you can order your events (bridal party entrance, cutting of the cake, toasts).  Make sure that there is a flow and that flow is clearly communicated, on the actually wedding day, your DJ will be in the driver’s seat and you will have nothing to worry about except enjoying the party.

Song selection: nothing is worse than having a packed dance floor and a terrible song comes on to kill the mood.  It is important to mix crowd pleasing classics with current hits and slow dance songs.  The wrong mix will make it tougher to keep that momentum.

Tone: you want your DJ or band to have a pleasant personality.  Their energy sets the tone for your guests.  There is a spectrum: Dead as a doornail <———> over bearing attention hog.  You want someone who excites your guests but doesn’t take over the event.

Here are four things to consider when communicating with your DJ before the event:

1.  Be intentional and prescriptive on the timeline of events

It may sound overboard, but it is essential to map out the timeline of events down to the minute.  This allows you to set the expectations with the event staff, photographer, cake specialist, and most importantly your DJ.  It’s the responsibility of the DJ to communicate this information to your guests.This will create the flow you are looking for. Here is an example template for your order of events.

2.  Pick songs for key moments

There are many great moments during your reception, be sure to pick the perfect songs for those moments.

Here are the songs we chose:
Bridal Party Entrance
: Chris Brown – Forever

bridal party entrance

Bride and Groom First Dance: Tom Petty – Wildflowers

bride and groom first dance

Father/Daughter, Mother/Son Dance: Richard Thompson – Who Knows Where the Time Goes
Bridal Party First Dance: Beatles – Twist and Shout

flower girl dancing - bridal party first dance

Bouquet Toss: Blondie – One Way Or Another

bouquet toss at wedding

Garter Toss: Queen – Another One Bites the Dust

garter toss at wedding

Late night fun: Darude – Sandstorm; Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy

3.  Pick your MUST PLAY lists

We pulled the Top 200 wedding songs and picked out the staples that we definitely wanted played.  Here are a few songs we wanted played:

Journey: Don’t Stop Believin’
Bon Jovi: Livin’ On A Prayer
Sister Sledge: We Are Family
LMFAO: Party Rock Anthem
AC/DC: You Shook Me All Night long

4.  Pick your DO NOT PLAY lists

We used that same Top 200 list to identify the do not play songs. We all can think of a few songs that just make us cringe. Here are a few of our examples: the Macarena or Who Let the Dogs Out

5.  Give your DJ creative license

You may be thinking, why not just plug in my iPod and run a playlist?  You will need your DJs intuition and skill to play the perfect song at the perfect time, and nothing can replace a DJ’s ability to keep the night moving along.

Overall, we could not have been happier with how the night turned out.  If you are prescriptive with your DJ on your vision for the night, things will go incredibly smooth!


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