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Six tips to making your own wedding playlist from wedding professionals

06/03/2015 09:00 EDT | Updated 06/03/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - The temperature is rising and bouquets are flying: it's wedding season.

This year, many Canadian soon-to-weds will decide against a wedding DJ in favour of a self-curated playlist.

If you are planning on going your own way, you might still benefit from a wedding DJ's experience.

Below, six tips from the pros on how to keep a wedding rolling:

1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Easy, right? Unless your soiree has swollen to the tiers of fringe acquaintances (our condolences), you should have at least a vague notion of your guest list.

But there's a tendency among some married couples to ignore dance floor demographics to toast their own taste.

Early in his career, Edmonton's Tarcy Schindelka spun for a bride and groom who wanted nothing but Top 40.

"The rest of the crowd, they were not having fun," said the owner of Advanced DJ Services.

"Three-quarters of the people left, and they all gave me dirty looks and complained to me. ... When you have 200 people there, you want as many people as possible dancing."

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2. CHEESE IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

It seems no one can agree which wedding faves have become wedding fromage.

Scott Rideout, owner of the Halifax-based True North DJs, files "YMCA" and the "Chicken Dance" among his personal "Do Not Play" list.

"There's nothing wrong with these songs but for some reason they polarize a room," he said.

Across the country, Schindelka disagrees.

"Even the bird dance — as annoying as it can be at times — kids love it and grandparents love it," he said.

"There's no song that's really off limits to me."

When in doubt, however, they agree: you cannot go wrong with Michael Jackson.

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3. CLEAR EYES, FRESH EARS, CAN'T LOSE

Let no playlist addition — no matter how beloved — pass by without new scrutiny.

"As much as 'American Pie' is a great song — all 14 minutes of it — it's not good for dancing," said Schindelka. "You have to remember that we're there to make people dance, not just to be a jukebox of songs you love.

"You have to think: Is it a movable song? There's a lot good songs out there that are terrible to dance to."

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4. CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT

Kristoffer Benoit of Calgary Show Services estimates that only one in 12 people who rent equipment for weddings have any problems with setup — and those are typically easily resolved over the phone.

But it's still best to become familiar with the gear at pickup, not later. And a backup plan never hurts.

"I've had laptops crash, I've had Windows decide to update me ... I've had mixers give me hassles," Rideout said.

"It's never fun, it's always stressful, and it's always at the worst time."

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5. BE FLEXIBLE, SOMEHOW

By enlisting an iPod DJ you are, to some degree, sacrificing read-the-room spontaneity.

But it's likely that at some point in the evening, you will feel the need to tweak, so assign someone the task beforehand.

"By pre-planning your music, you're making assumptions on how the night will go," noted Toronto wedding planner Rebecca Chan, who has leapt into last-minute iPod duty in the past.

"But you never know how the night will go."

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6. TAKE, DON'T NECESSARILY HEED, REQUESTS

As the wine flows, the musical opinions of your guests may grow in number and volume.

If so, do as the professionals do: listen, nod, and commit to nothing.

"You gotta take requests — whether you play the request is up to you," said Rideout.

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