My Response To “8 Rules for Requesting Songs at a Wedding”

Yesterday, I read a blog on Huffington Post called 8 Rules for Requesting Songs at a Wedding.  I disagreed with it and said as much when I shared it on Facebook.

This morning I woke up and for some reason this was still on my mind. I went back and reread the blog and got even more aggravated. Why was this bothering me so much?

First, let’s look at who wrote it: Matthew Dicks. From what I can find on the internet Dicks is a part-time DJ. Dicks lists a number of occupations on his Facebook page. DJ comes in 7th. And while I’m not knocking that, I wonder why he’d get this kind of platform. Why not have more of an expert offer their opinion?

But what bothered me most was Dicks’ condescending attitude towards wedding guests. Reading over his blog it seems like he’s already angry with them before they show up and feels hassled when someone approaches him and asks for a song. I’m not sure why that would be. My experience (I’ve done almost ten times the number of events Dicks says he’s done by the way) is that the vast majority of wedding guests are happy and fun and polite.  Sure there’s the occasional drunk asshole but they are the exception, not the rule. And even they can usually be assuaged with the right approach. Which is where Dicks seems to be going off the tracks.

For example, I’ve never been threatened with violence for not playing a request. Dicks says it’s happened to him multiple times (‘Threats of physical violence when I refuse to play a song happen more often than you could imagine”). Maybe one of us needs a class in how to get along with people. And I’d bet that most of Dicks’ problems stem from the fact that he assumes the worst in people while I assume the best. My attitude is to give everyone the benefit of the doubt until they prove me wrong. Dicks seems to take the opposite approach. Both of these assumptions usually become self-fulfilling prophecies.

My Advice to Dicks: Cheer Up!

And the shame of it is, lost in Dicks’ negative assumptions is the one good point I think he makes: Asks for your request early in the night. Occasionally, a guest will approach me in the last 20 minutes and ask for a slow song. I usually reply with something along the lines of, “I really wish I could play that but I won’t be slowing it down again.”  And even though ninety-nine times out of a hundred that guest will say “no problem“I do feel bad for them because I would have squeezed their song in during dinner or as a slow dance had they simply asked earlier. Besides the fact that I want to accommodate as many people as possible, I also look at every guest in the room as a potential future client. Maybe that young man asking me for a slow song is going to propose to his girlfriend in the next few weeks and this is the song they’ve talked about having for their first dance.   Or maybe that woman who asked me for “Single Ladies” plans her company’s holiday party. I figure I’ve got a lot better chance of landing those future events if I play a 3 minute song.

So if you find yourself a guest at one of my weddings, feel free to ask for your favorite song. I actually enjoy meeting new people and hearing what they like. If the song is something the bride and groom asked me not to play then I won’t be able to get to it (which I’m sure you understand).  Also, if I feel the song won’t work or if the lyrics are too negative (example: “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” is one I usually avoid) then I also won’t get to it (which again, I’m sure you understand). But for every nightmare request I get I can think of ten others that took me in a different musical direction then I was thinking of going and that worked and that created a unique moment I wouldn’t have been able to create without a guests’ request. Maybe at the crux of it that’s the biggest difference between Dicks and me. 350 weddings spread out over 19 years doesn’t offer that much time to hone one’s skills. When you’ve done thousands of events, and seen just about every scenario imaginable, you realize you can be flexible and accommodate a request or two that you hadn’t planned on.

7 Responses to My Response To “8 Rules for Requesting Songs at a Wedding”

  1. Another excellent article Mike! As the person who sells to brides and grooms, I couldn’t agree more. Attitude is everything, especially in the wedding industry and the majority of my couples truly want their guests to have a great time at their wedding celebration. I am often asked in my initial sales meeting if the DJ is open to taking guest requests; my couples are always very happy when I tell them “absolutely!” And of course my clients trust their DJ to take requests that are “wedding friendly” and will not bring down the momentum the DJ has going on the dance floor.

  2. Very well written, Michael! I agree with everything you said here. It’s all about pleasing your audience in any way you can, and showing them a great time! This Dicks guy need to reevaluate if he really wants to be a wedding dj.

  3. Bravo! Very well said! I too read his blog and was thinking that if all male DJ’s think like this guy, I’m lucky to be a girl. ??

  4. Mike, I didn’t really see that article as offensive. Looks like a guy who’s been burned a few times. I think the article could’ve been written better, but the 8 points are pretty spot on except for #8…and that’s only because he assumes guests know that the playlist is specifically from the bride/groom. Not too long ago, I had a drunk mother of the bride yell at me for not announcing her “date” into the room when we had gone over all the names literally 2 minutes prior and her “date” was not with her. I tried to down play it but she literally threw a fit while the first dance was going on, causing a huge seen. Come to find out she and the bride (her daughter) were in a tiff. Bride eventually kicked her out. It was crazy. But my point in this is just because one market doesn’t have some of these issues doesn’t mean another one doesn’t. Again, I think he could’ve written this much better but his points are pretty valid from what I could see.

    • Brian
      Thanks for your response. I think every DJ can tell a similar nightmare story of two which is kind of my point – they are so few and far between why judge everyone based on those experiences.

      But I appreciate the different perspective. Thanks for sharing
      Mike

  5. Well said Mike! Couldn’t agree with you more! Requests fuel a dance floor. As entertainers, we are playing music for our dance floor, not for ourselves. It is a great opportunity to have a packed dance floor if your dance floor is telling you exactly what they want to hear. I have noticed in my four years working for Vinny Liotta that if you are in a pinch, get a request or two from some girls on the dance floor or close to the dance floor. More often then not, they will bring even more girls to your floor! On top of this, guys want to dance with these girls, so by getting the girls on the floor, you can ensure more guys will get on your floor as well.
    This isn’t our show, it’s our clients special day. We need to remember that the more we make their guests happy, the more likely we are to be booked for more events. Why would you book a grumpy DJ for your own party? You wouldn’t. If we preach flexibility, we sure as heck better take a few requests that we weren’t planning to play!
    Keep up the articles, all of us at Cool Cat are eager to learn!
    Eric Whinnery

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