Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Wedding Song Requests
How to Deal With Them
By DJ Ben Boylan
If you have a DJ at your wedding, at least a couple of your guests are going to approach him or her and make a song request. How should you deal with wedding song requests? Do you need to deal with them at all? Yes! Read the post below to find out why...
1. Come up with a plan for wedding song requests with your DJ before the wedding
This is the most important part. Tell your DJ what your goal is for your wedding and discuss how DJ song requests from your guests could affect that. For instance, some people want a big dance party, some people want really interesting music to be played and I've even had couples ask me to try to create a bar atmosphere with a lot of sing-alongs.
Each one of those examples would benefit from a different request strategy. So it's important that you and your DJ discuss it to come up with a plan as how to handle song requests at your wedding reception
2. Some people let their guests request as much as they want
This is the least common option I encounter. Most couples want more control over the music - and for good reason. While it's great to play music your guests will like, it's not necessary to play music you don't like. And many songs will kill your dance floor (your guests will stop dancing).
But, this is the strategy we took when I DJed the wedding where the couple wanted to make their reception like a bar scene and in that instance it worked fine. They had a real looking bar set up on the dance floor with bar stools, beer signs and a jukebox (it didn't play obviously). People were just hanging around singing and since there was no pressure to keep people dancing, I took every request I got and we had a great time.
And while this is the least common wedding song request strategy my couples ask for, it's not necessarily the worst. Read on...
3. Some couples don't let their guests make ANY DJ song requests
I have experienced this one a handful of times and when the couples are really (really) strict about wedding song requests it can cause problems. It comes down to whether the couple chooses music that their guests like. If they choose music their guests love, then there won't be many requests. But as you can guess, that's not how it goes sometimes...
I had one wedding a few years back where the couple asked for all indie music - stuff like Bon Iver and Iron & Wine. It was good music but "Get Innocuous" by LCD Soundsystem was by far the most mainstream song they wanted to hear. And they said "no requests at all" and that they didn't care if their guests danced or not (I had told them nicely but firmly that that may be the result).
Well, as soon as dinner was over the bride's mother started peppering me with requests - exactly the opposite type of music her daughter wanted. I'm sure "I've Got a Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas was one of them and suspect "Call Me Maybe" was another. I figured, "well it's the bride's mother..." and I played them. For better or worse the dance floor filled up.
Halfway through Call Me Maybe (or a similar song), the groom told me the bride was in the other room upset and that I had to turn it off and go back to Bon Iver. I did, and as you can guess, everyone stopped dancing and I received about 20 requests in one minute, which I didn't take. When that song ended I played "Get Innocuous."
The mother started screaming at me until her daughter came out and they started screaming at each other. It got worse and may have been avoidable if the bride and groom had come up with a different strategy with their DJ beforehand.
One time a couple hid me upstairs out of view so their guests wouldn't be able to make DJ requests - because they wouldn't be able to find me (it didn't work).
4. Most people tell the DJ to use his or her judgment
This is what my couples decide to do with wedding song requests most of the time. If someone makes a request that matches with the songs the couple chose, then I will play it. If it doesn't, I won't. If a guest really wants to make a request just for the sake of making a request (often the case), then he or she will think of one that is similar to what is playing.
This way you please your guests and you have a great time too. If your goal is to have a fun dance party and keep everyone happy, then this is what I recommend.
5. You can ask your guests for song ideas on your wedding invites
Another way to compliment what I suggested above is to ask your guests to include one song request with their RSVP. You can tell your DJ only to play the songs that are similar to the musical genres you like and in my experience it is pretty fun.
We did this at a wedding about a month ago and it was fun to see guests in the crowd react by raising their hands up and saying "that's my song!" And I've even seen couples design a music-themed invite. Have fun with it.
So, in conclusion, wedding song requests are good...
(yes, I actually wrote that). They let your guests get involved with the music and the dance party. All DJs have seen people run up to their friends shouting "I requested this! This is my song!" (whether we like this is questionable, but the very-happy person certainly does). The type of music you choose is going to determine (partly) how many requests your guests make (see #3 above). And one of the best skills your DJ has is helping you choose your music.
“I submitted a list of some general tunes we had wanted to include and Ben made it even better… As someone who was deeply involved in all the details, the whole process was easy and even us submitting a last minute request for songs a day before the wedding was no big deal for him.”
Hanna C., New York, NY
“Ben worked with us well before the wedding to set the direction and the tone of each stage of the wedding, from pre-ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and dancing. And boy did he deliver! Benny’s sets were flawless, well curated, and perfect from start to finish.”
Allison H., Baltimore, MD
If you'd like to hear how the above story ended or just talk about your wedding, email me or text call me at 917.586.6753. Thanks for reading.