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  • DJ Ben Boylan

A Wedding DJ's Thoughts on Song Requests

The thing that my couples are most opinionated about is song requests. At a wedding, guests will often approach the DJ and request a certain song to be played. Some of my couples like this and some don’t.


wedding song requests
Photo by Jesse Pafundi

Why do some couples like song requests at their wedding?


I meet with all my couples before their wedding. One of the questions I ask is "how do you feel about your guests making song requests." Some of them are totally cool with it.


They just want to have fun


For some couples, their goal is to have a really fun, inclusive dance party. They want all guests at their wedding, of all ages, to be on the dance floor as much as possible. And these couples aren’t as concerned about which songs get played. Whether the song is cool, cheesy, old, or new doesn’t matter to them so much.


They aren't big fans of music


Everyone likes music. But not everyone is obsessed with it like I am. Some of my couples listen to music casually. Since they don't have strong opinions about music in general, they won't have strong opinions about what is played at their wedding.



Why do some couples hate the idea of their guests making song requests at their wedding?


At that pre-wedding meeting, some couples tell me not to take any song requests. If guests approach me, (and they always do), I will just have to make up an excuse. And I don’t want to blame it on the couple because then their guests might be bugging them all night about it.


They want control over what is played


Some couples have a particular vision for their dance party. It’s very important to them that certain songs are played. And probably even more important - that certain songs are not played. Practically every couple I work with gives me a do-not-play-list. And I have received every genre you could think of on this list. Every couple is different.


They don’t share the same taste in music as their guests


Some people like the same music as their parents and some don’t. This is where this usually comes into play - the couple vs their older guests. I often work with couples who want to hear current music. But their parents want to hear older music. Often the couple will allot a certain amount of time at the start of the dance set for older music. And sometimes they ask me to omit it all together.


wedding song requests
Photo by Jackie Patton of Jacqueline Patton Photo

What strategy do most couples take?


The DJ uses their judgment


Most couples ask me to take a request if the song matches their taste. Before the wedding, the couple will provide me a list of songs and music genres that they like. If one of their guests requests a song that is similar to the ones they provided me, then I play it. If it is in a genre they do not like, or on their do-not-play-list, I don’t.


The DJ doesn't take any requests


Some couples ask me not to take any requests. I actually get this a lot but that has to do with the kind of couples who are drawn to me. I am a proud music nerd so I attract other music nerds. And usually, the more you care about music, the less you want your aunt from Albuquerque requesting the Cha Cha Slide.


The DJ takes all requests


I feel like this is more common to other DJs, but I rarely get told this. Maybe once or twice a year I get a really chill couple who tells me to take all requests. And to play whatever will make their guests dance.



Which strategy is best? And which is worst?


There is no clean-cut answer to this. It depends on your guests. If your guests are really into music and dancing then you should play songs that they like. If they aren’t big dancers, and some people aren’t, they probably won’t be making song requests.


I personally think you should give your DJ a list of songs or genres you and your family like. He or she should take all requests which match your style (and are danceable).


Some people make a lot of song requests


Sometimes I get three song requests in two hours. Sometimes I get 50 in the same amount of time. If you think you have a family or group of friends who will make a lot of song requests then completely cutting them off might not be the answer.


It depends on the age breakdown


Let's say you have 150 guests at your wedding. And you want to play mostly current music and no "wedding classics." If 80 of your guest are over the age of 50, I would suggest you play a good amount of older songs. If only 20 are, then maybe you could play less.


You can talk to your family beforehand


If you foresee this becoming a problem, tell your family what kind of music you want to dance to at your wedding. If they put up a big fight then maybe you can negotiate. Like I said, many couples allot a certain amount of time at the start of the dance set for their family. Avoiding conflict is always best at a wedding.



Don’t ask for song requests on your RSVP cards, or wedding invites, unless you are very laid-back about the music


I once went through about 100 RSVP cards of song requests with a couple. They rejected every single one. At the wedding, Many guests asked when I was going to play their song. And it created a little bit of conflict. So unless you are the type of couple who doesn’t really care what type of music is played at your wedding, this isn’t a great idea.


Why do people make song requests in the first place?


After DJing in NYC bars and nightclubs for over a decade I learned a lot about the psychology of requests. In my experience there are two types of people who make requests.


The random requester


The first one is the random requester. They just think of a song they want to hear and they go ask the DJ. If the DJ doesn’t have it, they might be disappointed but they turn around and go back to the dance floor.


The wannabe DJ


The second person is the wannabe DJ. I’m not trying to shame these people. I just don’t know what else to call them. This person wants to make a request for the purpose of improving the party. They will make a request to the DJ and if he or she doesn’t have it they don’t get so upset. Instead they stand there and think of another request to make. After the request is played, they will come back to the DJ and request another one.


I have had people consistently request songs for me all night. And every time one of their songs is played they get their friends' attention and point out that they requested that song. I think these people would be good DJs. And they should consider it because it is really fun.



Talk it over with your DJ


If you DJ has a lot of experience then they will know how to deal with this. Come up with a plan as to whether they should take all requests, no requests, or use their judgment based on your taste in music. Your DJ is your line of defense so make sure to discuss this with them.



Conclusion


Do what you feel comfortable with, but know your guests. If you have family or friends who are going to be very opinionated about the music, try to mention it to them beforehand. And most importantly, talk it over with your DJ. Have a great wedding!

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