I’ve discussed this topic with every Bride & Groom I’ve ever worked with…whether or not to allow their guests to make music requests at their wedding. As a professional Wedding DJ in Los Angeles for the past 7 years I’ve learned a lot, and I can tell you that it does make the party more interactive when your guests feel welcome and comfortable enough to approach the DJ and request a song. Generally, and especially during the dancing portion, I get a lot of girls who come up and ask for a pop song, or a nostalgic dance song that she knows will get the Bride and all of her friends out to the dance floor with no problem. In this case, it makes my job easier, I don’t have to work as hard to figure out what people want to dance to, and your guests are generally happier when they have some say in the music choices.
However, there are also guests who approach me and ask for terrible songs, or some cheesy old song that people don’t want to dance to anymore…or worse, we’ll be in the middle of a packed dance floor with a lot of energy and someone comes and asks me to switch to a slow song, I’ve actually had 175 people on a dance floor in a great set of top-40 and old school hip-hop mix and someone ran up and said “Play ‘The Lady in Red’ by Chris Deburgh’!” I am immediately reminded why this person isn’t a DJ. That’s a great old song…but it doesn’t fit with the energy of the moment so guess what? It’s not getting played! So, I simply tell the guest that I’ll try to fit it in at an appropriate time, and I bury myself back in my headphones and laptop/turntables and go about my business…in general I won’t play anything that my gut tells me will kill a party, and the only exception is if the Bride or Groom come to me personally and tell me to play said song. I am always courteous to guests who request music, and most of the time, they do make good requests. If someone continues to hound me about playing a song that I know will not work, I might discuss it briefly with them, if they become belligerent or rude, I will remind them it isn’t their wedding day and I’m playing music the Bride and Groom want to hear and ask them to please go dance or find something else to do. When you’ve DJ’d almost 500 weddings, you see all types of personalities and attitudes and unfortunately, when people drink, sometimes they become demanding and arrogant with the DJ. I am not one to let people run over me or allow your guests to dictate the flow of the music at YOUR wedding, to me it’s about a fine balance of blending the bride and groom’s music requests with my vast experience and skill for packing dance floors while allowing guests to interact and have some input in the flow and style of the music that keeps them moving on the floor.
Some Brides and Grooms offer their guests a chance to request music ahead of time, via request cards on the RSVP or through a custom built wedding website. This works great, and again, it allows guests to feel like a part of the show. I always encourage the couple to go through the list, sort out the songs they hate, and type a list to give to me or whoever their DJ is, and allow him to also scrutinize the list. If you don’t play a song your guest requests, it’s not the end of the world…and sometimes, when you do play a song that you aren’t too fond of or sure about but a special guest such as your grandparents request, it makes for a very sweet moment for them…case in point, recently at a wedding, an elderly gentleman asked me to play “Moonlight Serenade” by Glenn Miller for he and his wife. We weren’t in the middle of a heavy dance set yet, and while the Big Band tune wasn’t part of the Bride & Groom’s requests, I felt even though it was a ballad and not a swing tune, it was appropriate to play for this gentleman, so I did, and he and his wife danced quietly on the edge of the grass and dance floor, while most people didn’t notice, it was a very sweet moment. I imagine this was their song, from the early 1940’s…the gentleman then told me he’d seen Glenn Miller and his band in 1941 at Carnegie Hall…now that’s the kind of thing that makes memories for people, and gives them an even greater experience when they attend your wedding.
So, Allow your guests to make requests, whether prior to the wedding, and/or at the wedding, and allow your DJ to control the flood gates and to make the final decision on what does or doesn’t get played.
Happy Planning and have a great wedding!
Thanks to Marianne Wilson Photography for the use of the image above.