The inspiration for this post came to me after one of my last weddings of the year. The bride and groom had left it to me to put together a playlist of songs for dinner. I think a lot of wedding DJs definitely miss the boat by thinking the dinner music portion of the wedding reception is just more or less 45-60 minutes of "fill" music. So many wedding DJs think this is the time that they can disappear from your wedding reception and pig out on YOUR food. They also think that the dinner music portion of your reception is a free-for-all where they can play anything they want. All of this could not be further from the truth. Your dinner music is equally as important as the dance music. ALL your music is important for your wedding day. Don't cut corners on this time during your wedding reception.
Lighter Music You Can Have A Conversation Over.
It should be common sense that dinner music not be comprised of songs at 120BPM. You are probably saying to yourself. "That's pretty obvious, Mike." Well, you'd think so, but remember what I mentioned up above about wedding DJs thinking that this is a time that anything goes. Nope. This is where YOU come in. When you are thinking about the music you'd like to hear for your wedding day, be sure to add in some songs lighter songs for dinner. Some of my clients make this part of selecting music more difficult than it should be. If you've spent any amount of time on my blog, you can tell I am a wedding DJ who is solely focused on music. Take look through your phone or Spotify accounts. I am sure you'll find some meaningful, light, conversational songs to add. But if not, I am here to assist you.
Photo Credit: Mike Bills Entertainment
Programming The Dinner Music During Your Wedding Reception.
As important as I find the selection of your songs during dinner, what's equally as important is how those things are laid out. Like I mentioned up above, there are so many wedding DJs who assume that all weddings are the same, so they will play the same Sinatra (Best Of) CD or Michael Buble CD at all of their weddings. I must admit that is pretty boring because no two weddings are EVER the same. For me personally, I spend a lot of my time researching music. Whether it be new or old music, I am constantly trying to find music to freshen things up during dinner for my clients. I think laying all the song selections down for dinner in the right order is very important. So, if a wedding DJ thinks that all weddings are the same and just puts in a mix CD they've used at their last 50 weddings because it's easy, their clients are missing out.
When I say "programming" the dinner music for your wedding reception, I am talking about actually putting some thought into how your songs are mixed together. And also when I say "program", I am looking at your dinner music selections and rearranging them into a mix that would be perfect for the radio. Having spent many years on the radio, I still listen to the radio much differently than the average listener who never worked in the industry before. Like a program director does with the music for their radio station, there is a method to the madness when it comes to mixing the music for your dinner. There is a knack to doing this and it takes a wedding DJ who is well versed in lots of different types of music.
Photo Credit: Mike Bills Entertainment
Now, for the Actual Anatomy Of Dinner Music Selections For Your Wedding Playlist
When my clients book me to be their wedding DJ, they are set up an account on my website where they can log into their own personal portal. Most all of my clients are very particular about their music and will take a lot of time logging in and selecting their music. What I'll do is sort through their music to see which songs would be candidates for dinner music, and which songs would be obvious bangers when everyone is ready to let loose on the dance floor. With a little bit of guidance from our initial consultation, most brides and grooms are able to throw in some softer songs for dinner. However, there are some brides and grooms who leave it up to me to put together their selection of music for dinner at their wedding.
One of my last clients of 2020 had gotten into a busy schedule and didn't have time to put the energy that a lot of my other clients put into the playlist for their wedding. When this happens (which is very rare), I speak with the client to try to get a feel of who all is going to be at the wedding (age ranges, parents, grandparents etc). If I have a general ballpark of the age of the bride and groom, I'll dig into my catalog and put together a playlist. You might think you can pull together a dinner music playlist that will fit every couple, but the most polished wedding DJs and those who are fluent with their music would not think about doing that. Every single one of my clients has different tastes in music so it would not be fair for me to assume that dinner would be a "one size fits all".
The Profile Of The Bride And Groom For These Music Selections
For the purpose of these samples, we'll say the bride and groom are roughly 25 years old and enjoy pop, as well as country music. I find it very important when choosing songs to make sure that songs are chosen with positive and uplifting lyrics; lyrics that are full of love and what would conjure up happy feelings. Here are three songs I choose for this clients dinner music. I will also provide a brief justification of why I threw this on the playlist.
"This I Promise You" | NSync
While this song was released in 2000 and is now celebrating it's 20 th anniversary, we're in a nostalgia period of 2000s music. There is always a request or two or three from these boy bands. If you watch the video for this song on You Tube, you'll see it's an uplifting ballad that leaves you with a warm feeling after you watch it. The song would peak at #1 on the Adult contemporary charts. I think adding this song to a modern wedding playlist is a no-brainer. And I say it's a no-brainer based on the title of the song and what a bride and groom have "promised" to each other to get to their wedding day. And also it's a great song because even though it's 20 years old, it still sounds fresh and could easily be played up against easy listening music released in 2020. Click the link up above to watch the video to get a feel for the texture of the song. For more of the Best Soft Rock Songs From The 2000s For Your Wedding Playlist, be sure to click over to this link.
"Speechless" | Dan & Shay
No matter what a client's musical tastes are, my recommendation is always to keep the country music to a minimum on the wedding playlist. While country music is a very popular genre of music, a little bit of it will go a long way. I can remember some of my brides only putting soft, modern country songs on their dinner music playlist and it made for a very sleepy dinner. A lot of the new country songs are not well known, which leads to a familiarity problem and people wanting to leave and go home. This song by Dan & Shay is not only VERY popular, but it appeals to a wider audience and does not sound as "country" as other songs could. So, by placing this song into the dinner music playlist, I am catering to this couple's affinity for country music, by NOT going overboard. I will never play two country songs back to back ever. A fade from NSync into Dan & Shay makes for a bit of time warp of 18 years and will satisfy those guests who might not be into early 2000s ballads, but instead modern light country.
"I Swear" | All 4 One
Depending on the crowd, I might make a decision to go back to the 80s with a ballad but since this is a younger bride and groom, I will go to the 90s for a love song. While this song was originally recorded and released by country singer John Michael Montgomery, I would probably play this version of the song because it sounds more polished and less sleepy and twangy than the country one. "I Swear" was one of the most popular songs of 1994 and is the perfect song choice because of the content of it's lyrics. This song is actually a popular choice on Playlist Of The Top Proposal Songs. <---Click HERE. For more of The Best Love Songs Of The 90s, <----Click HERE
Photo Credit: Mike Bills Entertainment
Putting Together The Music For Dinner At Your Wedding Is An Art Form....AND
A lot of common sense! I chose these three songs as examples because of their song meaning, texture, and vibe. Their texture is perfect for dinner because they are not too loud and abrasive and allow for conversation. Would I play these songs in this order? Possibly. But I chose these songs as an example to illustrate 3 types of songs that could be added into a modern bride and groom's playlist. I personally could mix these 3 songs up and play them in a different order and it would sound just as good.
Interested In Speaking With Mike Bills About Being Your Wedding DJ?
Thank you for making it all the way to the end of this blog. I hope this blog cleared up any questions you might have about putting together the music for the dinner portion of your wedding reception. At the very least it is my hope that you understand some of the thought processes that go into putting together a great dinner music playlist. As a professional, experienced wedding DJ, I want to make sure that all the music flows (no matter which part of the reception) flows properly. Songs need to be mixed and flow properly. If you should be interested in sitting down with me to discuss the music for your wedding, I would love to speak with you. Just click the link up above and you'll be taken over to my contact form where you'll be asked for some basic information about your upcoming wedding day. Check out these links down below for more dinner music ideas as well as a great rehearsal dinner music playlist.
Songs For The Perfect Vibe For Dinner At Your Wedding
The Best Rehearsal Dinner Playlist
PS. I am also available to DJ your rehearsal dinner! Be sure to ask me about it when we get together and talk!