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Wedding Music: What should be played at my wedding?

A friend of mine turned me onto an NPR article called The Good Listener: How Do You Pick The Songs For Your Wedding, and it really made me think about engaged couples going through the planning process of planning their wedding. I’m not going to restate the entire article, but in summary, host Rachel Martin and The Good Listener columnist Stephen Thompson discuss different parts of a wedding and what songs they feel capture those moments. According to Stephen, “Push It” by Salt N Pepa is the “song that embodies the spirit” and “every time that song is played at a wedding, I will have a good time.” Mr. Thompson reminds me of the typical wedding guest that knows the songs “that everybody wants to hear.” So, what does everybody want to hear? This post will discuss how Cutmaster Music approaches wedding music, incorporating the client’s tastes along with our experience of running hundreds of events and creating a flow that is customized for your event and your crowd.

Planning Music For Your Event

Stephen Thompson talks about “Push It” and knowing that if that song is played, that he’ll have a great time… I think that he is right only at the right event and right situation and played at the right time of the night. Cutmaster Music has a very detailed planning process because we feel it’s our job to create an event that is based upon the vision of our clients.

gigbuilder_1We setup an account on our website where our clients have exclusive access to planning tools including a playlist creator.  The overall purpose is to know what my clients enjoy allowing us to mix in their choices through out the night. My ‘shpill’ to them is this: We want to play to your crowd. We let your crowd guide us through the night by reading the mood and atmosphere (just like we would at a nightclub), AND mix in your playlist requests where the fit in the flow of the night

So, when is the right time for the right song?

Wedding Events

As discussed in the NPR article, there are different parts to a wedding, which definitely require different types of music. Here is a list of the typical formalities we see for weddings in Albuquerque. This list can be different for other regions and cultures.

    • Ceremony: Ceremony music varies from event to event. We’ve seen it all from classical Beethoven to R&B and more contemporary styles. Others like to mix the old with the new with bands such as the Vitamin String Quartet. Funkiest song we’ve played for a ceremony: The bride walked into Prince “Most beautiful girl in the world.”
    • IMGP4128_displayCocktail Hour: Cocktail hour music also varies depending on the theme and mood the bride and groom want to create. Remember, this is typically background music and on the lighter side. Not dance music but also not music that puts the guests to sleep. I usually ask our clients to let me know what mood they want and we’ll create a playlist to match. Here’s a few suggestions that we have played: Jazz, Spanish guitar (Gypsy Kings, etc.), Rat Pack (Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, etc.), Contemporary (Nora Jones, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, etc.), Motown, or a mix of all the above. Awesome cocktail music? Try Paul Anka’s “Rock Swings” for a new twist to the old Rat Pack feel!
    • Dinner Music: Dinner music is very similar to cocktail hour. We ask for the input from our clients to make sure we give dinner the appropriate mood they envision. This is a part of the night that you can put your own stamp on, without having to please everyone in the crowd. Again, this is background music, as people want to be able to converse without shouting over one another. Here’s a dinner playlist created by a friend for his recent wedding.

  • CutmasterMusic-Black-Ollason-07_displayReception: During our planning, you will choose all the formal dances (First dance, Mother/Son, Father Daughter, etc.). I include the Grand Entrance as a formal dance. As written in our blog post, Wedding Planning: Grand Entrance Songs, the Grand Entrance will set the tone for the evening. All these events require that our bride and groom choose the specific song because they will all be personal reflections of you and your day.
  • Open Dancing: The fun part! This is where your list of genres and dance requests will be heard and played according to our DJ’s discretion of crowd energy. This is where we ask our clients to let us do our “DJ Mojo Magic” and play the music that fits you and your event. We want to be able to read your crowd, mix in your requests as they fit with the flow, make sure everyone is having fun and gets a chance to hear music they enjoy. Remember, it’s a party full of diversity and we want to play music that the majority will enjoy and dance to.

Let DJ’s Be DJ’s


I can’t count how many times as a DJ I have heard someone tell me that they know “what everyone wants to hear.” This is especially humorous when the dance floor is already packed and full of people dancing (it seriously happens!). Requesting songs at a wedding is totally appropriate and even encouraged by Cutmaster Music. Most of the time guests will have great requests that everyone will enjoy.  A request usually makes the playlist if it fits within the flow of the night. We tend to play for the good of all guests.

We don’t want…

During the planning process we ask for the bride and groom’s input when it comes to music for the evening.  Limiting your DJ is only going to limit your event and the creativity your DJ has to rock a dance floor. We have found that the most exciting events have taken place when the bride and groom give us free reign and usually say “we love everything…. play what you feel is best.” An experienced DJ will be able to read and adjust to the given crowd type.

The Perfect Day

I appreciate when bloggers/journalists such as Stephen Thompson try to tackle music at the niche level, such as weddings. But, unless you have successfully handled the decks at an event and have gone through the planning process involved with wedding music coordination, you will never fully understand all the dynamics involved. It’s not as easy as coming up with “the perfect playlist” because every event will create their own playlist during the course of the night… and you never know what that playlist will look like until that perfect day is over.

Article written by Chris Romero of Cutmaster Music

Check out Chris’s Google+ profile.