The Right Music: A Fine Balance
Music is extremely important to an event, especially wedding receptions. It is a fine balance to find interesting music that also has a broad appeal for your guests. Music impacts the mood of the event, and these 5 tips can help you choose the right fit for you:
1. Go with the Flow
Think of your reception as a blank sonic canvas. Now add a little classical music and then throw in some Bollywood beats. Did that sound okay? There are plenty of beautiful love songs out there lyrically, but a lot of them get lost in an event like a wedding.
Often, the music selections can sound a little confused when you are first starting out. When choosing music for your reception, keep in mind the flow of the event. There needs to be certain continuity through the evening; otherwise the music can be overpowering and distracting.
The cocktail hour should be something fun and upbeat to set the tone. People will more than likely be standing during this time so anything to get them tapping their toes and moving to the rhythm is a good start. You don’t really want danceable music during this time but keep it upbeat and happy.
The dinner portion of the evening should be something inconspicuous like instrumental tracks or vocalists. Remember weddings are a time for people to catch up and talk, so you will want to oblige everyone by not bombarding them during that time. Rarely will anyone actually pay attention to the music during this time, so do not expect much reaction to a sensible selection at dinner. I really don’t recommend classical music because it can sound too traditional and sometimes too intrusive.
Typically after dinner there will be a brief period of mingling for the bride and the groom. Music that is a little more upbeat than dinner like some of the modern day fun love songs would be a good choice to set up the mood for cake cuttings or transitioning in to dancing. You are trying to get the energy up and ready for dancing.
Choosing dance music is a little trickier. A song that will let everyone know that it’s time to cut loose and enjoy the party. A popular bhangra beat is one option because it has a beckoning quality as well. Music is about tension and release, therefore you want the crowd ready to burst at the seams waiting to dance. The (tension) intro is nice and long which gives your guests plenty of warning to get on the dance floor to claim their spot at the drop of the beat (release).
2. Choose familiar songs
We are creatures of habit. Why else would we be offered preset stations on our radios? A lot of people are much more open to a variety of different music now, but keep in mind the majority are still content with a narrow genre mix. At one extreme you will want what you want to hear, but it is very important to balance that with common enjoyable songs. It is not difficult to offset unique songs with the widely accepted; it will just take some work and preparation on your part. I’m not saying you have to choose every song for the evening, but you will want to give the DJ a good framework in which to work. If you are constructing a “must haves” list then sit down and listen to the songs with your fiancée. You would be amazed at how many songs you think would be great but just don’t translate to a fun party. Like most everything else with your big day, the music requires attention from both of you.
3. You have the ultimate power (use it wisely)
Ultimately you have the final say of what gets played at your reception. Put together a list of “Do Not Plays” in order prior to the party. Let the DJ know ahead of time what artists or songs you don’t want to hear, and it will make your evening much more enjoyable. Likewise, do your best not to micromanage.
Ending a song abruptly can be awkward for those that were enjoying the song. The DJ can fade out fade out the song gracefully and have time to setup the next song. It works really nicely when done well. It’s not the end of the world if the song finishes and gives your guests a moment to take a breather. This is part of the professional DJ’s skills, to help judge the mood of your guests once you’ve set the boundaries.
Professional DJs have performed at more wedding receptions than you, so chances are they will know the outcome of your requests. As hard as it is sometimes, you need to trust the professional you have hired to make the right decision.
4. Keep the lights low
Lighting the dance floor is a key component as well. Inhibitions are directly related to the amount of light in the room. When the dancing is supposed to start bring the lights in the room down to send a signal to your guests that the party is just getting started. Then be sure to lead them out to the dance floor.
You may also want to include some dancing and party lights. The days of the discoball may be over, but low lighting with some fun, flashy accents thrown in, can help set the party mood.
5. Lead by example
It’s up to you to sell the songs you’ve chosen. In other words, if you want people to dance, then lead them to the dance floor. The crowd will follow you two like the pied pipers of wedding day bliss. Guests want to be next to you and try to talk to you all night, even if you’re on the dance floor. If you’re having fun the guests will have fun. There is ebb and flow to the dance floor, people will come and go. It takes time for some people to get the courage to get out and dance, don’t be afraid to stay out there or to drag a few of your friends out there (in a fun non-nagging way). More than likely they will be happy to accommodate you, just remember to have fun with it.