Garvan Rigby from Star DJs – View Profile
As a Wedding DJ with over 20 years’ experience, I’m often asked what are the best songs to play. In truth there are so many factors that need to be decided when I chose to play a song. I call it the “right song at that exact right moment” formula i.e. reading the dancefloor! I will have perhaps 1000 songs in my head that I might play on the night, but it’s often only half way through the current song playing that I will “feel the room” and decide what song to play next.
As a professional DJ you get to know what will work at different times and for different weddings. I always encourage some guidelines and some song suggestions from couples but even with the best planning in the world, it’s not until a DJ reads the floor will he or she know what to play to make the party a massive success. Therefore, I discourage actual long playlists because you can never plan that, and I’ve performed at over 500 weddings and every one of those is different.
The type of venue, the age profile, the guests’ tastes, where the guests are from (rural, urban, overseas) and the couple’s wishes all play a factor. Believe it or not, even the night of the week can play a role in music programming. There’s a big difference in what works for a large wedding where the age profile is 50/50 younger and older in a big hotel room and when it’s 70/30 younger and in a small boutique venue. If you go too modern with the music you risk losing the older guests earlier (some couples don’t mind that later on, but other couples want them all to be entertained). Here are 10 songs that can work and have worked at many past weddings in no particular order…
Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta a Feeling
It’s perhaps the biggest wedding or party song over the last 10 years and it still gets a great reaction on most occasions. I won’t always play it as it depends on the audience but by and large it has been and still is a massive floor filler and a feel good song to bring the tempo up.
The Killers – Mr. Brightside
This is almost a must at every wedding over the last few years. It’s one of the songs that will guarantee to get a younger generation energised and even some of the older guests. This is the one song that I can guarantee that if played in the right order at the right time will get that 35-year-old guy who has been standing by the bar all night onto the floor. After all, I always set a goal to ensure I get everybody onto the floor at some stage!
The Contours – Do You Love Me
This is a definite. Every generation knows this song from either the movie Dirty Dancing or from attending weddings or from airplay over the years. It’s a feel good floor filler for all ages either early in the night for the older guests or near the end as a crowd pleaser (depending on the age profile at the wedding).
Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Definitely the song of the last 1-2 years. Still a floor filler for all ages. It’s a guarantee for 95% of weddings. Add in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love somewhere in the night and these are 3 strong recent songs.
Snap – Rhythm is a Dancer
If the guests are predominantly 30s and 40s this is a must to bring them back to the 90s. Add in another few 90s club classics and you have a winner. Be warned that older guests may not like this, so I would only do a few and bring the music back around again to more mainstream for the wider audience again, unless of course the party at that stage has shifted to a younger profile. Remember you and your 30 something aged friends may love this, but your aunt Mary might not, so it’s a balance of keeping everybody happy on the day.
Outkast – Hey Ya!
It’s almost a must for near the end of the night and it’s a feel good song to bring the mood up even more. I always try to build the tempo, pace and excitement of the night, so this fits the pace later in the evening.
Tina Turner – Proud Mary (often known as Rolling on the River song)
This song is almost a wedding tradition in Ireland at this stage. It has all the ingredients of a massive wedding song. It’s up tempo, fast, rocky and sing along. Girls and guys love it and has mass appeal to all ages. Winner!
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
This can be a stomper of a song near the end. I won’t always play it, but if I feel it’s suitable, I will mix it into my closing set. Everybody knows the words and it just builds nicely towards the end. I will have judged the floor by then based on some other artists and songs from this genre over the night.
Abba – Dancing Queen
This song is often controversial and many people ask not to play this song, which I’m often glad to hear, as I’ve played this for so long now (not at all weddings). However, the reason why people hear it so much at weddings is that for 80% of weddings it’s the right song and it works. Do you need to play it? No. Should it be played to get the floor moving? Often but not always yes, but this will depend on the age profile of course. Remember it’s almost always the older guests that dance early on.
Take That – Never Forget
This is a great end of the night song that works for many weddings especially if most of the guests are 30/40 somethings. However, if there is more of a mixed age group, especially still on the floor at the end of the night many of them may not know this song and something like The Beatles’ Hey Jude or Dean Martin’s That’s Amore will work with all age groups for a sing along.
DJ Alan Geraghty – View Profile
In no particular order, here are some great songs to consider for your wedding…
Toto – Africa
A slower tempo song that just begs to be played as people love to sing along to this one.
Lionel Richie – All Night Long
A great song to consider for finishing your night with to get all of your friends and family out for the grand finale.
AC/DC – Thunderstruck
Quite simply no wedding is complete without at least one AC/DC song!
Prince – Purple Rain
Certainly worth considering if you plan on a slow set with obviously a massive resurgence in anything by his purpleness since his untimely death.
Mark McCabe – Maniac 2000
Absolute Irish club anthem, massive resurgence in the last year or two in particular, great for getting your guests screaming at the top of their voices!
Bill Haley and His Comets – Rock Around The Clock
Amazing 60 swing, huge appeal across a massive age group and is sure to have everybody from your young cousin to your grandad on the floor giving it socks!
Nena 99 – Red Balloons
Classic 80s – sounds so fresh with all those strings and synthesisers.
The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
On paper the title might not seem appropriate at a wedding but then again lyrics in so many songs probably don’t either!
Gipsy Kings – Bamboleo
Certainly worth consideration if you have any Spanish or flamenco dancers in your group and just a great track!
Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
The Boss is hugely popular in Ireland as we can see from all his sell-out gigs!
Blackbox – Ride On Time
Always fun watching your friends trying to hit the high notes on this one!
2 Unlimited – No Limit
Perhaps a bit hard-core for some age groups! But nonetheless a very energetic song that regularly fills the floor!
Backstreet – Backstreets Back
Results in Cheddar dribbling out of the speakers but nonetheless it has its place if you don’t take yourself too seriously!
Chesney Hawks – I Am The One And Only
Possibly testing the boundaries of good taste for sure but certainly worth consideration on your cheesy list!!
KC And The Sunshine Band – Give It Up
Early 80s at its finest, 10 out of 10 for a feel good factor!
Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
Always worth considering some reggae at some point during the night – it doesn’t get much better than this.
Dire Straits – Walk Of Life
The perfect mix of country and rock ‘n’ roll tempo that appeals to a huge age spectrum.
Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock
Hard to pass this one by if you’re doing a set list that includes some 60s rock ‘n’ roll.
Green Day – Basket Case
There are always a few surprise rockers in the group of wedding guests – this one goes down a storm for the air guitar brigade.
Michael Bublé – Sway
Fantastic cover version, certainly goes down well with anyone that’s into a bit of salsa.
Westlife – World Of Our Own
Frequently requested albeit by the females, nonetheless tends to have everybody up singing by the time it’s halfway through!