Professional DJ Advice; Expert Tips & Tricks for Couples on Their Wedding Day
It’s your BIG DAY! Don’t leave anything to chance. We at Phoenix Party Bus asked some of the top wedding DJ’s in Phoenix their advice to making your reception one to remember!
“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.
It all depends on the crowd you are playing for, a good place to start is playing some of the more popular dance floor filling songs, that is usually a good way to get the dancing started.
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!
Do your homework and get to know your audience. Don’t be afraid to take requests and build off that suggestion to help get them on the floor. If all else fails, drop some classic Michael Jackson or Prince.
The key to any event is in your preparation before the event. Constantly talking to the bride and groom about not only their taste in music, but also what their guests like will give you the details you need to prepare a banging playlist. Each event is different and you can’t assume what works at one event will work at all events.
I always like to throw in either the Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha Slide, or one of those crowd participation songs to get people up. Then, what I do once I have everyone out is ask the guests who has the best Michael Jackson moves(people usually will point to someone or a person will say that it’s them), once that happens I’ll have them do a Michael Jackson dance off(I’ll then throw on a song like Beat It, or Billie Jean, etc). That usually breaks the ice and people have fun with it. I’ve seen some amazing dancing and some pretty silly dancing. But, if you can break the ice with the guests, they will usually stick around. I also try and gauge songs they like based on reactions.
I find the best way to pack the dance floor is to encourage requests from the guests. Everyone has a song they loved from college or that they used to hear when they hung out with their friends. Getting guests to tell you the songs is a sure way to pack the floor because it’s music the guests already love!
As a DJ, we are the heartbeat of the wedding reception. There are times when for whatever reason, people are hesitant to let loose. DJs have a responsibility to the bride, groom and guest to enjoy themselves. It all starts from the beginning when performing the events during the reception. Reading your crowd is vital. Talking with the older guest first shows respect in wanting to know what they would like to hear. Then as the night progresses, I work my way around the room. Making my guest feel a part of the celebration goes a long way. Lastly, if allowed by the bride and groom, I try to play group dance songs to get as many of them and the kids up on the floor.
I interact with the crowd and play line dance music. That usually gets the party started!
1. Age demographic – You must know what to play for certain age groups. People ages 40 to 50 plus tend to like the oldies. Playing the hot classics from that era will always get people moving.
2. Linedancing – This is always a great way to get people of all ages dancing. Especially for guest who came alone.
3. Find the tunes ladies will dance to – Once the ladies hit the dance floor, the fellas will follow to bust a few hot moves.
4. Lighting – Dimming the lights and using led uplights, dance floor lighting etc, will create a fun dancing experience.
5. Find and know more music genres – Mastering one genre is fine but don’t be a one trick pony. You really need to be a pro at knowing other genres in case your crowd don’t react quite as you like.
Packed dance floors are a sign of a great wedding reception. All great weddings start with great planning. Your timeline is like your night’s foundation upon which we build everything else. Noteworthy DJs works with our clients and their wedding planners to ensure that the night’s timeline flows smoothly from one event to another. Combining that with music-related input our clients share with us in advance, we are very well equipped to kick the party off in fine style. When the newlyweds are on the dance floor and having a great time, most everyone else tends to be there with them sharing in those moments. By taking requests, reading the crowd, interacting with everyone, and making sure our brides and grooms are happy, we keep things going until the very end of the night.
I watch the body language of my guests. Even if they have not gotten on the floor, I watch their feet and their heads. Are they enjoying the music, and if so play more. If they are not, then look to change the beat. If I get the movement off of the floor, then it is just a matter of time before I get it on the floor. After 20+ years and doing over 1750 weddings, I pride myself in a wide variety of music that speaks to all of the guests.
Compiled by Phoenix Party Bus