Wedding guest song requests made via the couple’s wedding website before the big day is a trend I’m eagerly waiting to see blow over. I’m guessing couples must do this because they’ve hired a DJ they don’t trust and feel micro- management is their only solution for regaining a sense of confidence.
I love the idea of involving guests and trying to provide an ideal entertainment experience for all, but, in my expe- rience, most couples haven’t done the math here: It’ll take me over four hours to play all those song requests—and I have the couple’s must-plays to handle as well. The songs are rarely good for the overall enjoyment of the group, and the ones that are you would have probably played anyway, right? In a nutshell, it’s a train wreck.
The question is how to keep guests feeling involved (like all their requests weren’t just thrown in the trash) and still have the space you need to match BPMs, transition between genres, and raise the roof. Here are a few tricks I’ve used in the few instances I’ve been presented with a laundry list of website requests.
CROSS OUT SONGS THE COUPLE DOESN’T LIKE
Clearly this list of 87 website requests is going to have to be pared down. Start by having the couple remove songs they don’t like from the list. Simple enough. In my experience, you can reduce the list by 25-50% with this one trick alone.
PLAY NON-DANCEABLES DURING COCKTAILS AND DINNER
You know those songs that are great for singing along in the car or cleaning house but just do not translate onto the wedding reception dance floor? Use your expertise and experience to advise the couple that ABC and XYZ songs can be taken care of before open dancing. Hint: This is an espe- cially helpful trick to use for guests that your clients haven’t seen actually ever dance and/or are fairly certain will not dance regardless of the circumstance.
SHINE LIGHT ON GUESTS FOR AN UNEXPECTED TWIST
As you are going through the website request list with your clients, ask them if they know the story behind any of the requests. Was “You’re Still the One” the First Dance song at her cousin Mary’s wedding four years ago? Take note of it, gather as many details as you can, and mention it if/when you play the song at the wedding. Even just mentioning the name of who requested what contributes to guests feeling more involved and sticking around until the last dance. Don’t be afraid to discuss with the couple which extra special guests would be best to highlight (someone who traveled a great distance to attend, the only kid who’s going to be there, etc.).
ASK THE COUPLE TO UPDATE THEIR WEDDING WEBSITE/SOCIAL MEDIA
Another sticky point with these wedding website requests is that now her Aunt Sue and his cousin Frankie are expecting “Ring of Fire” and “Besame Mucho”.—and they’ll be watching you like a hawk until they hear them. Have the couple pre-empt some of this tension by updating their wedding website before the big day to read: “Thanks for your song requests! We got such a great response that we most likely won’t be able to play each request. We are planning a super fun celebration that we’re sure you’ll greatly enjoy as much as we plan to. Love you all and can’t wait to see you soon!”
ON THE ACTUAL WEDDING DAY
About two minutes before you plan to put on a request, create a bit of buzz by announcing, “In two minutes, find out what Best Man Ryan requested for the dance floor tonight!” This lets the guests know that the website requests were not just all tossed in the trash. I also tells Best Man Ryan that his butt better be on the dance floor in two minutes—and it gives him time to round up some buddies to join him or to plan who is doing the Worm first. Finally, it signals to the guests if the song is a flop why you might be fading it out and moving on quicker than expected.
Hopefully these ideas have given you some food for thought, and maybe even inspired you come up with your own methods to deal with the latest trend that’s come along to test our patience and creativity.
by Staci Nichols
Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #166 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/166