I have been a wedding DJ for the past 19 years, and in that time, I have worked with more than 350 couples in planning and executing their big day.
I just met with a couple who is getting married later in the year. They are lovely people who chose most of the music for their reception. This will tie my hands a bit when it comes to taking requests, but this is perfectly fine with me.
I find the practice of requesting songs at a wedding to be annoying and rude. Brides and grooms spend a great deal of time choosing the music for their weddings, particularly today when songs are bought with the click of a button and couples have been curating personal playlists all their lives. Why screw up their carefully constructed plan with your request for Diana King's Say a Little Prayer? Yes, it was cute in My Best Friend's Wedding, but you're not Julia Roberts, and it never works as well in real life.
After almost two decades of mixing music at wedding receptions, I'm still surprised how often an impossible-to-dance song from a wedding movie will permeate the music scene and refuse to go away. But if you insist upon requesting a song at a wedding, please follow these 8 simple rules.
1. DO request your song early in the evening. If you wait until the last hour of the wedding, the DJ is likely locked into a playlist of bride and groom songs, as well as the requests of guests who were smart enough to ask for their songs earlier.
2. DO request music during dinner. Want to hear your own wedding song? Ask for it to be played during dinner, and feel free to escort your spouse to the dance floor. This is a perfect time to play slow songs, and even though people are eating, you are perfectly free to dance.
3. DON'T tell the DJ how important you are as a means of convincing him to play your request. Everyone at the wedding is important. Unless you are the bride and groom or perhaps one of their parents, your relationship does not carry any weight with us if your request is lousy or we are running out of time.
4. DON'T tell the DJ that the music that he is playing "sucks" when it is probably the music that the bride and groom specifically requested and the dance floor is jammed with guests. Essentially, you're telling me that your friend's taste in music is terrible and that every guest on the dance floor has no taste as well.
5. DO respect the wishes of the bride and groom. If they asked that The Macarena not be played at the wedding, don't hassle the bride in order to have the song played after the DJ has refused. Leave the bride and groom alone and find some other overplayed, utterly ridiculous song that allows you to engage in an absurd display of synchronized line dancing.
6. DON'T flirt with the DJ, offer to expand his view of your cleavage, or proffer sex in order to get a song played. The DJ is probably married, we've all seen enough cleavage in our lives to allow us to pass on yours, and women who are willing to offer sex in order to dance to a four-minute song from 1983 are not that appealing.
7. DON'T threaten to "kick my ass in the parking lot" when I refuse to play a fourth song by Chicago during the wedding (true story). It's not worth it, and you will look foolish when I accept your parking lot offer, knowing full well that I am perfectly capable of kicking the ass of any man who likes a pop rock band like Chicago this much. Threats of physical violence when I refuse to play a song happen more often than you could imagine, but in almost every case, alcohol plays a large role. Still, it's ridiculous.
8. DO ask yourself: Do I really need to request this song? Is it worth altering the bride and groom's playlist in order to hear a four minute song that I can play at any other time?
If the answer is yes, get your narcissistic self over to the DJ booth and be polite, flexible, and understanding. If I have time and am allowed to play the song that you have requested, I will, as long as you have asked in a way that would make your mother proud.