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?”
Each of our couples can submit a playlist to us of priority songs, so first, I go through the that list for songs that I know will fill the dance floor and make the couple happy. If a list isn’t submitted, then I’ll play songs that have worked at prior weddings for similar groups, such as a country classic or Top 40 staple. Once I’ve gotten them on the floor, I vary the songs by tempo to keep them dancing.
-Gregory Hoffman, GGC Productions
Breaking the ice is the most important part of opening up a dance floor. The first few songs you play will set the tone for the rest of the night. We love to rely on a play-list from our clients as much as possible. It gives us insight into what will make a particular wedding unique. Of course, non-cheesy but energetic announcements leading up to the dance hour really help your guests feel at home.
Finding the right song to kick off a wedding reception can be tricky. During dinner hour I have survey the crowd, trying to find out if people want to ease into the dance hour or if they are ready to go full steam straight into dancing. If the guests want to ease into the dancing I’ll play a couple classic songs from the 70s or 90s that don’t necessarily scream “I gotta dance!!” but are songs virtually everyone knows and likes to tap their foot to. If it looks like the guests are ready to hit the floor on the first song I will usually play some fun 90s hip-hop. 90s hip hop makes 20-30 somethings feel nostalgic and makes the older crowd feel a bit hip feeling that they know songs that young folk are dancing to. Obviously this can change if the bride and groom request different genres of music, but it’s generally a good bet. In order to keep the flow of the night going I find that if I can mix together songs from a variety of genres, in ways that people don’t generally expect but are songs they enjoy, that keeps people on the dance floor. This is tricky since you have to beat match and find tracks that are in compatible keys, but finding inventive ways of mixing music is what makes for a great DJ!
-Michael Lentz, DJ The Mood
The reception is the part of the wedding that people seem to remember the most. It can make or break the entire wedding. A beautiful ceremony, good food, none of this will matter if no one dances. To pack the dance floor, I make sure I plan ahead. Talk to the bride and groom, get a feel for them and also what their friends and family are like. I observe the people, and how they react to the background music I play during cocktail hour and dinner. When we get to the party area, it’s all about knowing and reading what the crowd wants. I take them on a journey with my music. The best thing you can do is interact with your crowd in a real way, don’t be cheesy, no gimmicks. Enjoy your time with them, with making sure they have a good time. Know the right music to play and when to play it, and always be ready to adapt because things are always changing!
Hey, I’m Mr. Thrill with Mr. Thrill DJ PLUS, and my name implies having fun. That’s what I try to do, and feel honored that I get paid to party. If a dance floor is empty and I know the couple that hired me wants people to dance, I will sometimes get on the dance floor, and try to get things going. I will play a popular new song that I know everyone loves. Sometimes I have to back up, and play some slow songs to get the reluctant dancers on the floor, and then move through the decades to get a mixed crowd going. It’s really reading the crowd, answering reasonable requests, and moving with the flow of the reception. I love and it has always been natural to me.
I like to invite everyone out onto the dance floor ,turn on some fun dance floor lighting to set the mood. I then play fun hits that I think the crowd would enjoy and put my signature DJ Kimmy K spin onto dance floor.
The first key is to understand the bride and groom’s goal and desire for their event. At the end of their special event, what do they want their guests to remember? Talk about? This is a critical piece that will shape how the DJ goes about executing the event and thus ‘packing the dance floor’. Staying within the bride and grooms requests and parameters including do not play lists, we often start with an Ice Breaker song to get the dance party going. We have found that this is one of the best ways to get the dance floor packed. When the bride and groom love to dance, those are the best parties! Let the party begin!
-Kevin Paladino, Owner, COMPLETE Weddings + Events
The methods for packing a dance floor vary according to the audience. During a private event with an extremely diverse group of people, I find taking requests to be the best way to prompt participation and figure out what they are all about. From there, I mix in as many different tempos, rhythms, genres, languages, and dance steps as I can so that the program is always stimulating an area that hasn’t been touched in a while. Of course, if the whole crowd loves one style of music and that’s what they respond to all night, that is what I will keep giving them.
-Gavin Alexander Velasco, DJ/MC/Artist
I’ve never had a problem getting people to dance…if they are a dancing crowd. It’s all about playing the right music at the right time, and that means learning how to read a crowd and sense the energy in a room. Before dancing, there is typically a cocktail and/or dinner time. I observe the crowd, looking for any little thing that might indicate someone is enjoying what I’m playing (toe or finger tapping, mouthing the lyrics, movin’ and groovin’ where they’re sittin’, etc). By the time dancing starts, I’ve already got the crowd figured out. But if they are hesitant to come to the dance floor, I’ll put on some group dance song like the Cupid Shuffle or the Electric Slide, get out on the dance floor, and lead it myself. I’ve yet to dance alone.
-Eric Christianson, Penguin Entertainment
I offer a special kind of Wedding DJ package that includes Live Acoustic Guitar before and during the wedding ceremony, and then full DJ combined with live lead guitar during the reception. This combination gives guests the best of both Live Music and DJ.
Brides love my guitar music because I am an expert guitarist who teaches music, and I am able to play light Jazz music and background songs as guests arrive at the church before the ceremony. Then I am able to either play the Wedding March, or any song they may want on the guitar.
-Rick Bell, Rockin Rick Entertainment
As a professional D.J. you must set the tone of the event from the jumping off point(J.O.P.), I actually coined that. I find that a great line dance or a classic song that has crossed genres/age barriers. The key is the next song after that has to really hit. To seem like a mind reader before the event starts(if you haven’t already planned your playlist), is to walk through the audience and simply ask what they like to hear, work it into your playlist….smooth sailing.
-Marvin Spencer, Good Tyme Entertainment
One thing we do for sure is break the ice. We like to warm chatter prior to dancing so we get to know some of the audience and a few of their music taste. We also have clever ways to get lots of people involved by shouting them out on the mic, dancing with them a little, and of course their is always group/line dance songs.
-Gerald Reddick, G Fire Productions
I don’t ever like to use “tricks” or games or anything corny like that to get people on a dance floor. A wedding is an adult party and guests don’t want to feel like they’re at a Bar Mitzvah! I try to scope the crowd as soon as I see people walking in for ceremony and get a vibe from them on how to approach dancing and see what people are reacting to when they are listening to music during dinner as well so I can get the party started off right. If I ever really need help getting those stubborn ones on the dance floor, I’ll play a slow song as ask all of the couples to come to dance and then play a banger right after. The majority will stay on the floor from there!
-Nikki Oberle, Eitana Events // DJ Nixx
One way to effortlessly get everyone on the dance floor is to provide dance floor entertainment like glow sticks, multicolor foam batons, a fog machine, confetti, etc.… This will entice people to participate. If you are concerned about your guests not dancing, allow your DJ to play songs that have a line dance associated with them. Most people love to participate in line dances like The Cupid Shuffle. You can also take advantage of any lulls in the evening and do a Dollar Dance, an Anniversary Dance, etc.
Lastly, if your venue allows it, one sure fire way to get your people dancing is to have your bartenders pour a round of shots after you cut the cake. This will prompt your guests to let loose just in time for the dance party.
To definitely read the crowd as much as I can before the dance floor opens. I do keep some songs in my arsenal that I know will get the dance floor packed again. I always request a To-Play and Do-Not Play lists from my clients to better understand what they would like to hear on the dance floor. Along with that, I always take request from the guests because that guides me in knowing what type of music guests would like to hear. As most of my events are wedding related, we strive to best accommodate to the Bride and Groom but we can not lose focus on entertaining all the guests at the same time.
Compiled by Austin Party Ride