Professional DJ Advice; Expert Tips & Tricks for Couples on Their Wedding Day
"As a DJ, you are literally the life of the wedding reception. Sometimes, people are hesitant to let loose, what are some tips and tricks to packing the dance floor?"
For years I have practiced my trade geared around the bridal party. More specifically the bride and groom, I like to customize all my playlists for weddings based on the musical taste of the bride and groom. To amplify the effect, I mix frequently. Sometimes playing a song for 30 seconds to sometimes just a minute and a half. Of course I play best of the best songs for longer. I believe that my short timings and seamless transitions increases the probability for guests to hear their favorite songs. While keeping the guests guessing, I can go through many different genres and styles of music within 10 minutes. So no one is waiting to hear what they like and they don't have someone obnoxiously telling them to JUMP or PUT THEIR HANDS UP IN THE AIR every few minutes. I have learned that, one needs to focus on those who want to dance. My priority goes, bride and groom, bridal party, family and friends. I am not into entertaining EVERY guest nor do I care about getting EVERYONE on the dance floor. I mix well, mix quick, constantly read the crowd, make sure everyone's vibing and keep on doing that till they kick us out. 🙂 In my 11 years of being a DJ and 5 years of specializing in Weddings, I have found this practice to be extremely efficient.
One of the best ways we at DTB Productions have found to help get the dance party kicked up and off on the right foot is to ask our clients to choose what we call the "Wedding Party Dance" in advance. The Wedding Party Dance is simply the Bride and Grooms most favorite upbeat dance track from their list of Must Plays that they would like to be the very FIRST track played which opens the dance floor to ALL their guests. Their "JAM" as it were. This helps immensely in being sure that the Bride and Groom are really excited to get on the dance floor on the that first song, which of course will help bring the rest of the guests to the dance floor, and thereby sets the tone for the entire rest of the night.
Most DJs have a major issue with accepting the fact that they are more than just a DJ at a wedding, they are also the entertainment. So from the jump (beginning of the reception) they have to turn on the “fun” at a wedding so that people get more into their comfort zone. Well without revealing too many “secrets” I will just start off by saying that myself and my team are all DJs with superb and unique personalities. On top of that we know ALL types of music genres like the back of our hands. We have the knowledge to read a crowd and we also provide a few incentives that help us read our crowd for the night, perfectly. And finally we have included events inside the weddings that guests continuously compliment us on that the guests enjoy and also help “break the ice” for the night. Not only for the DJ to be noticed for the night as the ultimate entertainment, but also for both sides of the families to get better acquainted, comfortable with each other, and also ready to PARTY with each other. People leave our weddings saying “...THIS IS THE BEST WEDDING I’VE EVER BEEN TOO!!!....” all the time. And our slogan says it all, “WE ARE A PARTY LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO HAPPEN”
Creating an atmosphere where the guests feel that they are a participant in the the celebration and not just an observer is essential. This happens long before the dance floor is open. The four factors that have the largest impact on this are:
1) Layout: Optimally the dance floor should be centered in the room for equal and ease of access. The bar should be on the opposite side of the room as the photo booth to prevent clustering and all activities should take place in the same room so as not to divide the guests and create two separate events.
2) Communication: Letting the guests know what's coming up and what's expected of them before the actual moment-keeping the guests informed and prepared helps to keep them focused on the activities once they actually take place which keeps them present.
3) Pacing and Flow: The timing should happen when it feels like it should-not rushed but not dragging either. Eg.: Starting the formal dances while guests are wrapping up dinner as opposed to waiting until plates are cleared gives guests time to finish while providing dinner entertainment. It also prevents the food coma from setting in and keeps the guests from losing interest. When the formal dances are done, they're done eating, still have energy, and they didn't have to sit too long.
4) Engaging the Guests.
Be Approachable: Check on the guests off mic, even table to table during dinner regarding volume, what's coming up, song requests, etc… They'll be much more likely to engage during the dancing since they feel that they now know the DJ.
Formal Dance/Ice Breaker: By asking the guests to join in half way through the last formal dance they typically will out of respect and because it feels safe (everyone is doing it) then before the song ends and the open dancing is announced the floor stays packed due to the help of the bridal party that has been prepped to stay out for the first few songs to gel the dance floor.
Requests: Every crowd is different and by soliciting requests you get a feel for what resonates wit the guests, obviously filtering through and offering alternatives if the requests are not what the bride and groom wants. The songs that get the most favorable responses are usually popular songs where the guests know the words, can sing along, have calls-to-action in them, and bring back great memories.
Cycle the Dance Floor: Most groups will only want to dance for so long before they want to do something else (bar, photo booth, socialize, etc). Manage the timing and be preemptive so that things happen when the guests feel that they should: 30 minutes for the 1st dance set, 1 hour 2nd set, etc.. After a slow song bring the guests all to the dance floor for a group activity between sets (Group photo on dance floor, sing-a-long, etc). This acts as a reset button and keeps things fresh.
Our #1 tip that we tell our couples for a poppin' dance floor is that.... If you are on the dance floor having fun, your guests will feel more at ease and more likely to step out of their comfort zone. Your guests are there for you and want to be near you, so why not spend time together on the dance floor?
One key to getting people on the dance floor is to break the ice. I like to find an event that brings the whole party out to the floor right when we are ready to start dancing. Usually, I use a dancing circle. You know like the kind you see in old break dancing movies? It is time to have a dance battle!
I have the whole group create a dance circle, and I shout out a couple questions. If your answer is yes to the question I ask, it is your turn to head to the center of the circle with the other yes answers and show off some moves! People often just don't want to feel like they are out on the floor by themselves. If you can break the ice and get everybody out there as a group early they are almost sure to keep coming back to the floor all night!