How to Put Together an Alternative (Not-Cheesy) Wedding Playlist

How to Put Together an Alternative (Not-Cheesy) Wedding Playlist

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Olivia Tinsley
Feb 10, 2017

The right music can turn even the most mundane of moments into something wonderful, so there's no doubt that a great soundtrack will make a day as special as your wedding all the more unforgettable. So, where's a couple to begin when it comes to choosing songs for such an occasion? I chatted with a few DJs to get their take on piecing together a winning wedding playlist.

As couples begin to approach planning music for their wedding, Elissa of the Boston and Brooklyn-based, Beat Train Productions recommends sharing a vision, but making space for the unexpected. "Make sure you communicate your key stylistic points, and leave wiggle room for your DJ to read the crowd. The key to success is to make sure to hit the songs that mean a lot, but also leave room to switch up the game plan, field requests, and react to the crowd's energy level. I always tell my clients to keep a roaming playlist (on Spotify, for example) to use as a sort of inspiration board for the DJ. While I do ask them to highlight eight to ten 'must-play' songs, the rest of the list can be more of an audio vision board for the DJ to use to stir up ideas."


"The key to success is to make sure to hit the songs that mean a lot, but also leave room to switch up the game plan, field requests, and react to the crowd's energy level."


When it comes to choosing a unique first dance song, Elissa advises couples to pick something that speaks to their relationship. "Think of bands you both like and pick one of their B-sides, or a cover version of a popular love song. If you have a favorite movie, check out the soundtrack. There are so many resources out there when it comes to discovering alternate versions of beautiful songs, so don't hesitate to poke around or ask your DJ for suggestions!"

While appealing to the mixed crowd that a wedding gathers can be tricky, Seattle-based DJ duo, Alaa and Andrew of Amateur Hour have a foolproof four-playlist approach. Each playlist is designated with a temperature to take guests from cool and low-key to a bumpin' broil.

The pair suggests beginning dinner with a mellow selection of tunes from a few favorite artists, such as Blood Orange, Frank Ocean, and Solange. Then it's time to dial it up and get the dance party started with the second playlist. "This playlist should be accessible to all. Try to mix classic and modern, but don't throw any bangers yet. Some ideas are Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Talking Heads, Lykke Li, and Justin Timberlake." As for go-to tunes to get all feet on the floor, the duo cites Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" and Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" as guarantees.

Once guests are beginning to bust their moves, Alaa and Andrew kick up the heat to their 500 and 700 degrees playlists. "Pick songs that are crowd pleasers. Ginuwine, Montell Jordan, Bell Biv DeVoe, mixed up with some Drake, Bieber and Katy Perry will work great. We also always feel inclined to bring some guilty pleasure in this list like 'N Sync or Kylie Minogue. A wedding is always great place to get nostalgic." Be prepared to throw in a few surprised when crowd is really feeling it, too.

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