Amongst my many and varied DJ engagements at 1000’s of events, functions, venues etc., I have been a Wedding DJ for thousands of weddings since starting up as a DJ since 1980. Therefore, this Blog is based on years of Wedding DJ’ing, experience and memories that I continue to create nearly every weekend.
When I speak with Brides and Grooms about their wedding party and we discuss their expectations and what they are looking for, we always must discuss that all-important and almost obligatory ‘Bride and Groom First Dance’. Occasionally a couple will choose not to do a first dance as they don’t maybe feel comfortable, but I explain that all they have to do is ‘stand on the dance floor and cuddle for a minute’ whilst the photographer captures that all-important first dance picture, and usually they will go for it.
So, for me, and most couples tend to agree, the choice of a first dance song should be a song that is personal to them and not just a generic song that they have found by Googling ‘wedding first dance songs’, or finding it from a list on Spotify or iTunes. This makes it impersonal. However, I advise that if there is not a song that they have that is particularly personal to them, not a problem as there are 100’s of brilliant songs out there and it’s not really a big deal as long as the song is nice and well-known. I simply advise to just pick a classic that everybody can relate to and enjoy with you.
Songs like, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and ‘’Perfect’, John legend – ‘All of Me’, Aerosmith – ‘Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’, Take That – ‘Greatest Day’ or ‘Rule The World’, Lonestar – ‘Amazed’, Elvis Presley – ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’, Ellie Goulding – ‘How Long will I Love You’, Adele – ‘Make You feel My Love’, Etta James – ‘At Last’, Christina Perri – ‘A Thousand Years’, Savage Garden – ‘Truly Madly Deeply’, and ‘To The Moon and Back’ and many hundreds more are timeless classic and beautiful wedding first dance songs that can be used if a bride and groom aren’t particularly bothered or sure of the song that they want. Whatever they choose will become ‘their song’ and will be with them for the rest of their lives, so a classic is always best.
Some couples will choose an obscure random album track from some artist from years ago that nobody knows, but they ‘found it on YouTube’. Again, no problem as the bride & groom can have whatever they want, but history shows that the classics are always the best if the bride and groom do not having a definite song that is personal to them, like the first song they danced to together, or maybe a song that was playing in the background on their first date etc.
As a Wedding DJ, I have seen hundreds of comedy mash-up first dances, where a couple has seen it on YouTube and want to do the same thing. That’s great and can be funny with a terrific impact, but at the same time, it’s not original or unique, it’s been done so many times before now, so keep it simple and fresh and personal so that your photographer can capture the spirit of your love.
For the evening party, I always recommend that what works brilliantly and will give the bride and groom the best start to their evening party, is to have evening food as early as possible, so I recommend, evening party start 7.30pm, (background music as guests arrive and socialise) evening buffet, 8-8.15 (8.30 latest), allow about 45 minutes and we are ready for that all-important first dance at around 9-9.15pm. (Remember, the buffet is still out for guests to continue dining anyway as it stays out for around one and a half hours, but by now, most of the guests will have finished their food). From then, we have all the guests in the room watching the first dance and the impact from there on in works well as the DJ can ‘crank things up’ from that first dance whilst all the guests are there and engaged. That gives us a good 3 hours or so of partying with no interruptions to ruin the flow of the evening. Most couples agree with this and unless there are special reasons for doing the first dance early, like an elderly relative needs to go early, it is THE best start to the party with maximum impact. As always, whatever the bride and groom want or prefer is fine by me.
However, and here’s my little rant, whilst most photographers are happy to want what is best for the bride and groom, the odd one can be quite selfish and try to force a first dance early, say at 7.30/8pm as they have ‘been there all day, it’s been a long day, they are tired and they want to go home’ as they are ‘only contracted until a certain time’, or whatever. It’s like, they’ve had their money, now they just want to go. Often, these photographers will pressure the bride and groom to force an early first dance so they can capture it, which is great, but most definitely to the detriment and impact of the fluency of the party.
Again, it’s always best to agree this with the photographer beforehand and advise him or her if you need them to be there for the first dance, (not always necessary as so many guests will capture this moment from many angles) that the first dance will be at around 9pm and I can guarantee that if he or she wants you to engage him, if this request is in the early days of your negotiating and before you actually book him or her, then he or she will agree no problem, or even agree to stay until the first dance for a small add-on fee which you can both agree on, depending on what the package is. Again, it’s all about the pre-planning of the minute details that will ensure your party is an enormous success.
This is a relatively minor consideration that can be so important. From that first dance, there is nothing in the way to prevent me as the Wedding Party DJ to keep the party flowing by programming the right music at the right time for the rest of the evening to keep the party atmosphere buzzing and the dance floor bouncing and therefore a very happy bride, groom and wedding guests.