Every bride-to-be has dreamed about getting married practically since they were little girls. Some brides remember drawing themselves with veils in crayon in preschool. Others remember practicing a new surname on the back of a a high school notebook.. No matter how you cut the wedding cake, every bride-to-be wants their wedding to be considered happy, special, and sometimes “THE BEST THERE EVER WILL BE.” However, the reality is …dreams do not always unfold into reality. So, what exactly can a bride do to help her happy visions actually come to life?
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
A wedding reception is like a research paper. To make for a great one, research has to be done. But before you do any research, you need to focus on finding the right questions, before you can try to find answers. First off, the bride and groom should identify “The Big Question” and then decide on a thesis (an answer) they are both comfortable with.
THE REAL QUESTION IS…
The only real way to be happy with your reception is if all the people around you are happy. The big question, therefore, then should not be “What do I want?” but rather, “What do I want for my guests?”
By formulating this question every time you plan an aspect of your party, you are planning from the guests’ perspective. Planning using the “Big Question” instead of something more selfish and meaningful to only you, will spawn a number of sub-questions that go along with it like, “what do I want my guests to say when they sit down?” and also, “what do I want my guests to say when they walk out the door?”
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
Demographics is everything. Thinking about who is going to be there before you actually plan, will make your reception “the best wedding of all time.” Different people like different things and you have to have a happy medium of what they will like and what you will like too.
BEING A GOOD WEDDING HOST MEANS BEING UNSELFISH –
Realizing that you are trying to accommodate all of your guests’ wishes from a great wedding reception is only the first step. Next, you have to do your research. Your homework is to find what really makes you happy, and also makes every guest attending happy as well. Because wedding receptions happen everywhere everyday, it is safe to say thousands of reception options have been created and your answers are out there. You just have to find them. Using this planning philosophy can work in every area including food, entertainment, music and even the overall look & layout of the decor.
THINK OF EVERYONE AT YOUR RECEPTION –
Don’t force eating restrictions on your guest. It causes friction.
Let’s apply this unselfish planning thinking from the guests’ perspective to one particular aspect of the reception: The Cake. While you may absolutely love the idea of a classy cream cheese carrot cake, Uncle Charlie may absolutely HATE IT. That doesn’t mean you have to be unselfish and not have carrot cake, it only means you have to think outside of the box. What would my guests like to see in a cake? How can I make everyone happy? In this case, why not TRY WEDDING CUPCAKES. Have you heard of this? You tier up a wedding cake display with many different types of cup cakes, in displayed in the shape of a traditional wedding cake. Everyone, including you and Uncle Charlie is now happy.
Same goes for the seating. Putting older folks close to the DJ is usually a bad idea!
As a wedding DJ specialist in Upstate New York, I tell my clients that if you really want to have your guests look back at attending “the best wedding ever,” keep them in mind as much as yourself. Happiness breeds happiness. Playing your favorite songs is important and fine, but remember to always involve some of your guests’ favorite songs as well-even when they might not involve the same types of musical tastes.
Find the happy medium, it is out there.
Speaking of the cake… Here is something else to think about: Try to make the cake as late as possible as this is often a point of exit for many guests. No matter what anyone says, dessert feels like the end and if your reluctant party-goer guests get this feeling, they may leave early!
– The wedding reception introduction is a huge part of the fun to come. You want to make sure that the your grand entrance sets the mood for the night.
There are many ways to make an impression here. Lots of people today are really mixing it up and having some crazy dance-oriented multi-theme-song entrances, while other like to go with something more traditional. (See below to see OUR way.)
Here are some popular Wedding Party Reception Entrance song selections:
• I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
• Forever – Chris Brown
• Jay Z – Bring Em Out
• I’m Here For the Party – Gretchen Wilson
• Let’s Get it Started – Black Eyed Peas
• I Like To Move It
• Carmina Fortuna
• Rocky Theme -Gonna Fly Now
• Mission Impossible Theme
• Olympic Fanfare – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
• White Wedding – Billy Idol
• Star Wars Imperial March Theme
Whatever you choose, remember, it is a song that will set the mood for the evening. Below is an entrance I did recently for a great couple to Chris Brown’s “Forever”, at The Museum of Dance in Saratoga, NY.
If you are planning a wedding in Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs or anywhere else in the world, I’m sure you have already figured out that there millions of components to think about. The catering service, the venue location, the food selections / menu, the DJ, the cocktail hour, the clothing, the decoration, the centerpieces, the flower arrangements, the bouquet, the favors, did I forget something? Wait! Wait!! Have you even stopped to think about the ceremony yet?
The selection for the music for your wedding ceremony is always a tough task. My customers from Albany, NY to Saratoga Springs come to me all the time and say, “Kenny! Where do I start? I don’t know what any of that music is called or when it even happens!” It’s actually not so difficult. Hang on to you garter… here is a crash course Cliff Notes edition to wedding ceremony layouts for dummies:
Music for your wedding ceremony is important. This part of the day is the serious time set aside where the bride and groom express their feelings for one another and exchange their vows. That means, all in all, the ceremony is the time set aside for the mushy stuff. Therefore, you probably want to think about slower classical wedding music, new age, or very slow classic rock or pop ballads.
No matter how you look at, there are a few stages to a wedding ceremony, before the bride and groom say I do:
PRELUDE – There should be about four or five songs played as a prelude when the guests are seated. These can be anything, but keep in mind, these selections set the atmosphere for the guests. If you have no music playing, it feels more like a funeral than a wedding, so the prelude is important! The actual song selections should be light and elegant, modern or traditional to your liking.
PROCESSIONAL – The groomsmen and the groom usually move to the front from the side. They do not walk down the aisle, This signifies that the ceremony is about to formally begin. There are two songs during the processional: one song is chosen for when the bridesmaids enter, and the other song is to be the most dramatic choice, selected for play when the bride walks down the aisle.
RECESSIONAL – One last song is played after the kiss for the bride and groom to walk back up the aisle to. Think happy! The music played in the recessional, should symbolize the happiness of the couple’s new life together.
If you are like many, you probably want the traditional classic wedding music, but have NO CLUE what the songs are called. Here is my playlist when I am told to play the traditional favorites:
EXTRA SELECTIONS – There can be additional specialized songs selecte at different points in the ceremony, depending on the actual ceremony itself. Sometimes a special song can be played during or after the exchanging the rings and vows, and the lighting a unity candle.
RESTRICTIONS – Some churches have rules about wedding songs used during your ceremony so be sure to ask your clergy person or officiant! Remember, if you are non-traditional, you might get a kick out of white wedding, but your reverend may very well not be a Billy Idol fan.
There is a growing trend to get away from the traditional classic music. However, it is recommended that you shy away from anything upbeat. Adding too much craziness to the ceremony is not recommended, because it takes away from the seriousness of the union at hand.
For your wedding ceremony, your music selections should all probably still be softer and with a slower tempo. However, that doesn’t mean you have do the same thing everyone does.You can totally customize the song selection to fit your taste. There is plenty of good music out there that may be better suited for you than classical music. One of the most moving bridal marches I have seen was set to Enya’s “Only Time.” However, the most memorable one was last summer, when I had a bride who walked down the aisle to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” so go figure.
With all the lame 1980s wedding song lists out there, you really need to update your requests to your DJ. However, it is not so easy to start with a blank page. Here is a very new updated Top 20 Wedding Songs for today.
Songs from this list will be great to use as your first dance, or maybe perhaps as your bridal party introduction song at your wedding reception.
This wedding song list does not include anything more than a year or so old, and most of the songs are slow songs. Feel free to reprodice the list as much as you want with a link back to our cite in Albany NY www.theDJservice.com, or we will get you! 🙂
The link provided will let you hear the song off of Youtube, to help you get a better idea of whether or not the song would be right for you.
HOW TO THROW A SUCCESSFULLY SWINGIN’ COCKTAIL HOUR
One way to lighten the mood before dinner at your wedding is to have some nice music that encourages cocktail consumption. Who better to set this atmosphere than “Mister Martini” Dean Martin, or good ‘ole blue eyes Frank Sinatra, himself?
If you are planning a classic “Loungy” cocktail hour for the period of time before the dinner is to be served at your wedding reception, the possibilities are endless.
Try serving martinis with poker chips and and playing cards tossed around on the tables as decor. Sunglasses will also give tuxedo wearing guests that extra added “Rat Pack” feel. But what ever you do, you have to set the atmosphere with music.
THE BLEND – To really have that a great cocktail hour, think drink. Create an atmosphere that encourages mixed drink imbibing. To so this, you need a great mix of just the right music. Try a blend of Jazz , 40’s / 50’s Swing, Big band and Blues, along with some Island music (like Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley, or “IZ” Israel Kamakawiwoʻole) and just a splash of modern soft rock, Motown, and Pop.
COCKTAIL HOUR MUSIC LIST
Here is a great list of songs to pull ideas from and create your own playlist:
All The Things You Are – Sinatra
Almost Like Being In Love – Ella Fitzgerald
American Patrol – Glenn Miller big band
Armando’s Rumba – Chick Corea
As Time Goes By – Peggy Lee
At Last – Etta James
Autumn Leaves – Duke Ellington
Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson
Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
Begin The Beguine – Artie Shaw big band
Bei Mir Bist Du Schön – Benny Goodman
Best Is Yet To Come – Tony Bennett
Better Together – Jack Johnson
Bewitched – Linda Ronstadt / Sinatra
Beyond The Sea – Bobby Darrin
(Along Came) Bill – Jane Monheit
Black Coffee – Julie London / Janice Siegal
Black Orpheus (latin) – Paul Desmond
Bleeding Love – Boyce Avenue
Blue Bossa – Kenny Dorham
Blue Monk – Thelonious Monk
Blue Skies – Ella Fitzgerald
Body And Soul – Coleman Hawkins
Boyce Avenue (Modern covers lounge-style)
The Breeze And I – Sonny Clark
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Bye Bye Blackbird – Miles Davis
Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Elton John
Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis
Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man – Lena Horne
C’est Magnifique – Ella Fitzgerald / Sinatra
Cheek To Cheek – Eva Cassidy / Fred Astaire
Come Away With Me – Nora Jones
Come Fly With Me – Sinatra
Cottontail – Duke Ellington
Dance Me To The End Of Love – M. Peyreux
A Day In The Life Of A Fool – Paul Desmond
Desafinado – Stan Getz
Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me – D. Ellington
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore – D. Ellington
Don’t Know Why – Nora Jones
Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree – Glenn Miller
Don’t Wait Too Long – Madeleine Peyreux
Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Mama Cass
Embraceable You – Nat King Cole
Fever – Peggy Lee
Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra
A Foggy Day – Les Brown
Footprints – Miles Davis
For Sentimental Reasons – Patti Page
The Gentle Waltz – Oscar Peterson
Giant Steps – John Coltrane
The Girl From Ipanema – Antonio Carlos Jobim
Gone With the Wind – Ella Fitzgerald
Green Dolphin Street – Bill Evans
Have I Told You Lately I Love You – Rod Stewart
Have You Met Miss Jones – Ray Brown
Hawaiian Wedding Song – Elvis
Hernando’s Hideaway (tango) – Charlie Byrd
How High The Moon – Stan Kenton
How Insensitive – Pat Martino
How Sweet It Is – James Taylor / Michael Bublé
I Could Not Ask For More – Sara Evans / Edwin McCaine
I Could Write A Book – Harry Connick, Jr.
I Get A Kick Out Of You – Sinatra
I Got The Sun In The Morning – Judy Garland
I Left My Heart In San Francisco – Tony Bennett
I Only Have Eyes For You – Sinatra / Kay Starr
If I Were A Bell – Ella Fitzgerald
I’ll Dance At Your Wedding – Peggy Lee
I’m Beginning To See The Light – Bobby Darin / Diane Schuur
I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket – Ella
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
In A Mellow Tone – Duke Ellington
In The Mood – Glen Miller
Inchworm – John Coltrane
Inseparable – Natalie Cole
It Had To Be You – Harry Connick Jr.
It Might As Well Be Spring – Ella Fitzgerald
It Was A Very Good Year – Frank Sinatra
It’s All Right With Me – Ella Fitzgerald
It’s Only A Paper Moon – Nat King Cole
I’ve Got A Crush On You – Linda Ronstadt
I’ve Got The World On a String – Frank Sinatra
I’ve Got You Under My Skin – Michael Bublé
Jeanine – Kenny Burrell
Joy Spring – Manhattan Transfer
Just One Of Those Things – Dinah Shore
Killer Joe – Quincy Jones
A Kiss To Build A Dream On – Louis Armstrong
L.O.V.E. – Natalie Cole
Lady Is A Tramp – Ella Fitzgerald
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
Lithium – Bruce Lash
Luck Be A Lady Tonight – Bill Evans / Sinatra
Lullaby Of Birdland – E. Fitzgerald / S. Vaughan
Mack The Knife – Bobby Darrin / Ella Fitzgerald
Memories Of Tomorrow – Dave Anderson
Misty – Ella Fitzgerald
Moon River – Henry Mancini
Moondance – Van Morrison
Moonglow – Diane Martinson / Artie Shaw
More Than You Know – Judy Garland / Jane Monheit
My Favorite Things – Dave Brubeck
My Foolish Heart – Tony Bennett / Bill Evans
My Funny Valentine – Bobby Darin
The Nearness Of You – Nora Jones
New York, New York – Liza Minnelli / Sinatra
Nice Work If You Can Get It – Rosemary Clooney
Night And Day – Lena Horne
Night Has A Thousand Eyes – Horace Silver
A Night In Tunisia – Dizzy Gillespie
Now’s The Time – Charlie Parker
O Pato – J. Gilberto
One Note Samba – Jobim / A. Gilberto
Orange Colored Sky – Natalie Cole
Our Love Is Here To Stay – Dinah Washington
Peel Me A Grape – Diana Krall
Pennies From Heaven – Goodman / Peggy Lee
Pick Yourself Up – Ella Fitzgerald
Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars – Jobim
Recordame (latin) – Joe Henderson
Route 66 – Nat King Cole
Roxanne (Acoustic) – Sting
S’ Wonderful – Gershwin / Sinatra
Satin Doll – Duke Ellington big band
Sing, Sing, Sing – Benny Goodman
Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
Smile – Charlie Chaplin
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – Helen Forrest
So Nice (samba) – Jobim
Some Day My Prince Will Come – D. Brubeck
Somebody Loves Me – Ella / Tommy Dorsey
Somebody I Used To Know – Walk Off The Earth
Someone To Watch Over Me – Linda Ronstadt
Somewhere OVer The Rainbow – IZ
Song For My Father – Horace Silver
Spanish Eyes – Al Martino
Stand By Me – Ben E King
Stormy Weather – Rosemary Clooney
Straighten Up And Fly Right – Nat King Cole
Strangers In The Night – Frank Sinatra
A String Of Pearls – Glenn Miller big band
The Summer Wind – Michael Bublé / Sinatra
Summertime – Lena Horne
Sunrise, Sunset – traditional
Sunny – Classics IV
Sushi – Oscar Peterson
Sway – Dean Martin
Sweet Georgia Brown – Benny Goodman
Sweetheart Swing – J.J. Saecker
Swinging On A Star – Bing Crosby
Table For Four – J.J. Saecker
Take Five – Dave Brubeck
Take The ‘A’ Train – Duke Ellington
Taking A Chance On Love – Jane Monheit
Temptation – Diana Krall
That’s All – June Christy / Michael Bublé
That’s Amore – Dean Martin
The Show – Lenka
There Is No Greater Love – Ben Webster
They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Bennett
Till There Was You – The Beatles / Peggy Lee
Too Darn Hot – Ella Fitzgerald
Tuxedo Junction – Harry James big band
Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
Waltz For Debby – Bill Evans
Watch What Happens (latin) – Tony Bennett
Watermelon Man – Herbie Hancock
The Way You Look Tonight – Garland / Sinatra
We Are Family – Sister Sledge
Weekend in New England – Barry Manilow
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
What The World Needs Now – Dionne Warwick
When I Fall In Love – Linda Ronstadt
You Make Me Feel So Young – R. Clooney
DJ Kenny Casanova – is a professional wedding reception mobile dj and professional wrestling ring announcer out of Albany, NY and Troy, NY. You can email him at ken@theDJservice.com.
For everything from movies to circus acts, music really sets the mood. However, mixing up the moods you want to help create can do wonders for the overall feel of your event, in the end.
One of the first questions I ask brides and grooms before planning a play list is, “what kind of atmosphere are you trying to set during this time in the reception?”
It is really important to set lots of different atmospheres and manipulate many different emotions at a wedding, if you really want it to stand out and feel special. You don’t really want to stay in one “mood” for any extended periods of time. Therefore, no segment of a wedding should be all fast, all slow, or even all serious for a long time. To make your wedding feel like one of the best ever, it’s all about mixing it up.
“If you really want to keep your wedding guests fully engaged and make a long-lasting impression, you have to appeal to all their senses, and all of their emotions.”
Before we talk about planing the best wedding playlist, let’s look at another form of entertainment that focuses on mixing up emotions; the film world.
When you go to Regal Cinema in The Crossgates Mall in Guilderland , NY and sit down with your over-priced soda & your garbage can full of butter and popcorn, isn’t the whole point of making a trip to the movie theater to be emotionally manipulated? The whole point of going to the movies is to have someone tell you a story that makes you laugh or cry, and perhaps, an experience that you will remember for years to come?
Walt Disney once said, ” … for every laugh, there should be a tear.” Mickey Mouse’s always wanted fans on an emotional roller coaster ride whenever they went to the movies.
Walt Disney always made sure that his films had scenes that deliberately went out their way to make the audience cry; The death of Bambi’s mother… Snow White’s funeral scene… Pinocchio appearing to have died… Cinderella having her dress destroyed and losing all hope of going to the Ball….
Even the old time southern Baptist tent meeting ministers realized that chopping up the emotions was the way to go. By offering quick “mood jumps” from fast hymns into slower tear-jerking testimonials, it was always clear that people felt they were really attending something special, after looking at the offering plates at the end of the night.
In today’s high impact, fast moving, MTV-style-edited, attention-deficit disordered world, you have to constantly change things up to keep your audience. This is even more so when your audience is a vastly-varied demographic like wedding guests tend to be.
For my weddings in the Albany, Troy, Schenectady, NY area, I try and follow this same psychology to create the same results. I want the people attending the wedding to feel like they are experiencing something special. Therefore, coming out of a coctail hour with an acoustic blend including lounge, jazz, soft rock, country and reggae, I like to bump into a high-energy introduction, then drop it right back down into a touching classy ballad first dance. Immediately after that, I recommend playing something lighter or nostalgic before the toast, then transition over to a fun party mix for dinner with one-hit wonders, throwbacks, sing-alongs and good tunes that are tougher to dance to while people eat. After dinner, I introduce the dance segment with a mix of todays hits and all your favorite classics.
When putting together your wedding music playlist, or any party for that matter, keep mood-mixing in mind. Chopping up the desired atmospheres with an emotional roller coaster playlist is a great way to really touch all of the bases. Mixing up everything in the end will really make your night feel special and memorable.