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.

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