Music at weddings: ah, my favourite subject! As I’ve spoken about before, Mr B. and I had an absolute blast drawing up our list for our awesome DJ. We sat in the pub and basically laughed all day as we remembered songs we loved as kids, adults, together, everything. We wondered if DJs even took immense lists such as ours and played a couple’s offbeat choices, or if they just played what they wanted. It was a bit of a worry as we are both TOTALLY into our music. I knew that left to their own devices, a DJ would never think to play Molly’s Lips the Nirvana version, or Love Like Blood by Killing Joke. No way. Why would they? That really would be odd considering they’re not exactly popular wedding disco songs. I wanted about a million Smiths/Morrissey songs, a Pulp marathon, a Yeah Yeah Yeahs discography. This was the stuff of bespoke playlists.
We ended up with a fabulous DJ, who said ours was one of the best playlists he had ever had. He loved our choices; they mirrored his own tastes, and relieved him from having to play the same old cheesy stuff, he said. Towards the end of the night, it was just me left on the dancefloor (Hardcore? Sad?), and he played me Smiths and Morrissey until I thought a double-decker bus actually had crashed into me. He was a legend.
I reflect on how cool all this was a lot. I wonder if we had a one-off ace DJ or if lots more would be amenable to a couple’s choices over and above a hackneyed wedding setlist. I wanted to get a DJ’s perspective on these ponderings and find out how they operate, what makes them happy in order to keep the crowd happy, and how you should approach the whole music at your wedding thing, so I asked Dance ‘Til Tomorrow‘s Deci Gallen, who is also one half of the fabulous Photography by Brideen, and also a kick-ass DJ, if he would answer some of my questions.
DJ or iPod playlist?
For a disco, there’s no question – it must be a DJ. A good DJ will be able to select the right tunes at the right time and mix them together cohesively so there are no lulls or long gaps. iPod playlists have their place – during the meal or at a drinks reception – but if you want a good party, get a DJ.
Own selection or DJ’s choice?
We encourage people to get involved. I’ve DJ’d weddings where the couple has made a handful of suggestions, and others that have given me a list of music lasting more hours than I’m actually booked for. Both ways work fine, though. I think it’s important to choose the right DJ to suit your tastes. There’s really no such thing as ‘wedding music’ so don’t get fobbed off with a DJ who packs nothing but clichéd cheesy crap…unless you want that, of course.
See more – Kerri-Anne and Cathal’s Engagement Shoot
Song to start the party?
Something to suit all ages. Motown stuff is usually good for this. I’ll say Land of 1,000 Dances by Wilson Pickett off the top of my head, but it could be anything!
Song to finish?
I always encourage the couple to pick this. To me, it’s as important as the first dance. The last tune at my most recent wedding was John Murphy’s and David Hughes’s cover of Zorba the Greek – it caused MAYHEM!
How much should you budget for a DJ?
If you have a DJ for a full night (with no band), I would budget around £400, but it really does depend on the DJ. If you’re only having a DJ after a band you might expect to pay slightly less.
Favourite selection of songs
I hop all around genres at most weddings, but I’ve done very specific playlists, too – Punk/Ska weddings, Alt-Rock weddings, Disco/Funk weddings. I personally love it when I get to mix all kinds of genres and eras of music together.
How do you choose your setlist? Is it inspired by the particular couple? Do you meet to discuss their wedding to get a feel for who they are?
It is absolutely inspired by the couple. Once they’ve booked, either Emma-Rose (another DTT DJ) or I will send them a sort of ‘getting to know you’ form, which gives us an idea of music they love…and music they hate! Not everything a couple requests will work, so it’s important for us to build our own set around their tastes to keep people on a dance floor. It’s rare that either of us would DJ at a wedding without having met or Skyped the couple before it.
Favourite ever venue you DJ’d at?
I usually love smaller venues. A small, packed dance floor has more energy – some larger venues don’t have the same atmosphere. That being said, I DJ’d at a wedding recently in Belfast’s Ulster Hall. I’m used to going there to see bands play, so it was cool being on the stage there.
If you were a song, which one would it be?
The theme tune to Dangermouse.
Five songs that you would want to hear at your wedding
- Imelda May – Tainted Love
- Solange Knowles – Losing You
- KC & the Sunshine Band – Give it Up
- Ronettes – Be my Baby
- The National – It Never Happened
Basically, to sort your wedding knees-up, you would:
- Pick the songs you’d like, obviously!
- Do some proper research into DJs – wedding fairs, word of mouth, Facebook, Google, wedding blog searches – and really check out their testimonials and reviews
- Meet with a DJ you like the sound of and see if you click with them in person, and suss out if they listen to your preferences of how you’d like the night to go – it’s imperative you feel they ‘get’ you if you want a disco that reflects you as a couple and not them as a DJ
- Budget around £400 as a ball park figure
Photography – Photography by Brideen